Quentin Cooper talks to Duncan Wingham, Professor of Climate Physics at University College, London for an update on the European Space Agency's ice mission satellite, CryoSat. The first CryoSat mission ended in disaster five years ago when the launch rocket malfunctioned. Next week, a new satellite, CryoSat-2, will be launched. If the launch goes according to plan, the satellite will enter an orbit 700 kilometres above the Earth. Using the first all-weather microwave radar altimeter, CryoSat will investigate the Earth's ice fields and map ice thickness over water and land.
A report in Nature suggests that the brains of songbirds are physically changed by the songs they sing. Quentin discusses the research with the paper's lead author, Richard Mooney, Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University School of Medicine. Richard describes the 'sensitive period' in both birds and humans when the brain is most receptive to learning.
Quentin also hears about the world's most accurate clock. The Aluminium Ion Clock is more than twice as precise as the previous pacesetter based on an atom of mercury. It's accurate to one second in about 3.7 billion years. Quentin talks to Till Rosenband, one of the researchers at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who developed the clock. He also talks to Patrick Gill from the National Physical Laboratory in Middlesex.