How do we know if an asteroid headed Earth is dangerous?

There are a lot of things that pose a threat to our planet – climate change, natural disasters, and solar flares, for example. But one threat in particular often captures the public imagination, finding itself popularized in books and films and regularly generating alarming headlines: asteroids. by Jonathan O’Callaghan

Here’s how scientists planning to deflect asteroids that might damage Earth

Asteroids – the bits and pieces leftover from the formation of the inner planets – are a source of great curiosity for those keen to learn about the building blocks of our solar system, and to probe the chemistry of life. Humans are also considering mining asteroids for metals, but one of the crucial reasons …

Why buying local food isn’t necessarily better for the environment

Fears over supermarket shortages during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic led many people to buy their food from local producers, raising the prospect of a transformation in the way people get their food in the future. But while eating locally and shorter supply chains are often viewed as a more sustainable alternative to …

Galactic archaeology: astronomers are using stars as fossils to study the Milky Way

Understanding the stellar population of our galaxy could reveal a great deal, not only about our own home but also about the universe as a whole. So-called galactic archaeology can reveal how galaxies take shape and explain some of the interesting complexities of our own.

Interview: It’s time to rethink the Milky Way

The Milky Way might be right on our cosmic doorstep, but a group of astronomers suspect that the way we currently study it is stunting our understanding. Professor Ralf Klessen at Heidelberg University in Germany is one of four researchers who have recently begun a six-year project, ECOGAL, to try something new: imagine our home …

Organic solar panels: lightweight, bendy, cheaper

Today’s silicon solar panels are an industry standard, but these rigid, heavy blocks may be shunted aside by plastic rivals – lightweight, flexible solar panels that could be printed and stuck onto buildings or placed in windows or cars, turning light into electricity in locations inaccessible to their heavier cousins. The standard solar panels we …

Human spaceflight is a risk worth taking, says ESA head

On 12 April, the International Day of Human Space Flight commemorates the first human – Yuri Gagarin – travelling to space in 1961, and the inaugural Space Shuttle mission on the same day in 1981. Since Gagarin, humans have flown to space hundreds of times, including six missions to the moon, and have maintained a …