How life on Earth could help us find life on Mars

The conditions on early Mars were habitable, says Dr Alberto Fairén. Image credit - NASA

Jonathan O’Callaghan In our continuing search for other life in the universe, one place has always looked promising – Mars. It is a rocky planet like Earth, orbiting the same star, and at a distance where water could have been present on the planet. Today, however, Mars is a barren wasteland. Any water it once … Read more

Q&A: Human spaceflight is a risk worth taking, says ESA head

If an astronaut reports about the fragility and the beauty of the Earth, then this word is much stronger than any robotic system, says Wörner. Image credit - Pixabay, licenced under CC0

by Jonathan O’Callaghan Human spaceflight is dangerous, but worth the risk, according to Jan Wörner, the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA). But even so, there are limits – like Mars. Robots, as proxies for human exploration, can take on dangerous missions by travelling to places astronauts are not yet capable of reaching, but … Read more

Making satellites safer: the search for new propellants

The current standard propellant for satellites based on hydrazine, which is highly toxic, so researchers are developing safer alternatives. Image credit - NASA-JPL/Caltech

by Kelly Oakes Developing new propellants for satellites to replace toxic hydrazine would make launching and handling satellites safer but it also requires disrupting current systems, according to researchers. As the number of satellites soars, so will the amount of fuel we use to launch them. And getting into orbit is only half of the equation. … Read more

The mission to build a reusable launcher for Europe

US company SpaceX is one of several who are developing reusable launchers. Image credit - Bill Jelen/Unsplash

The race is on to develop a European reusable rocket that can ensure Europe’s autonomous and cost-effective access to space while increasing the sustainability of launches. Launch vehicles – or rockets – are essential to deliver satellites and space probes into space. Once they’ve served their purpose, they’re typically disposed of. But with the annual … Read more