Firstly, one of Europe's great astronomical ventures is coming to an end. The Planck telescope, put in space to map the oldest light in the Universe, has run out of the helium coolant that keeps it in full working order and so will have to return to Earth. This is not too problematic, however, as Planck has successfully gathered more than enough data since its launch in 2009 to complete its mission goals! ‘It's a bittersweet moment’ said Dr Mark McCaughrean, head of Esa's Research & Scientific Support Department, ‘but we have far more data in the bag than expected and it's excellent’. The evidence from Planck could, in the long term, give evidence about the earliest years of the Universe, soon after the Big Bang. ‘It is really fascinating stuff, especially when you look at the science behind it all’ stated a source from ThinkMarketing.
Secondly, a project to spot the ‘bubbles’ that young, massive stars blow in the gas surrounding them has come up trumps, finding more than 5,000! One of the great remaining mysteries of how our Universe works is how stars themselves form in vast clouds of swirling gas. This project examines this on an unprecedented scale and has involved the work of many experts and volunteers. The large number of bubbles found led one expert to compare the Universe to champagne!
Thirdly, the Phobos-Grunt Mars probe is expected to crash to earth soon! Scientists who are watching its orbit closely say it is due to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. There is no need to panic however - they cannot predict where on Earth it will land but do stress that it is unlikely to be dangerous and will probably fall into the sea. There are no confirmed injuries from man-made space debris falling to Earth in the past and no record of significant property damage from a falling satellite. ‘It does make you wonder about how much more there is outside our world though’ said a source from ThinkMarketing, ‘Space really is incredible!’
Considering what is happening in the vast expanses of the Universe may well help to put our own lives into perspective!
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