‘Serendipity carried through to perfection’ – thoughts on the Cassini mission

I am, as some of you might have noticed, an avid follower of …. not fashion but space exploration. I have ‘flown with’ Hubble, Voyager, Rosetta, Philae and New Horizons; I ‘follow’ Curiosity’s progress on Mars; and now I am entranced by some of the images that Cassini is sending back from Saturn and its …

Pluto and pareidolia

As everybody knows by now, New Horizons has been flying past Pluto and has beamed down astonishing images. One of these shows a peach or bronze coloured planetary object with a lighter pattern on the side that I first saw as a ‘heart’. Many others did so too, including NASA (it will now name this …

Joining the dots: Pluto, Kant and the nature of scientific knowledge

In his Critique of Practical Reason (1788) Immanuel Kant wrote these most beautiful words: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and reverence, the more often and steadily one reflects on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I do not need to search for them …

Kissing a comet

I began writing this post this morning and I have just read that Philae has reached its landing spot Agilkia (sort of)! Touchdown happened at 1605 GMT. Congratulations!! Rocks, robots and us When I switched on the ESA live feed about the comet landing this morning, I heard one of the lead scientists say that landing …

Agilkia and public participation in science

On 12 November 2014 the space craft Rosetta will deploy its lander Philae and Philae will try to land on the Comet 67P or Churyumov-Gerasimenko. As I have written about the Rosetta mission and Philae, I thought I had to at least try and write something very short about the landing site (formerly known as …

Philae: Where space science meets language science

As those who care about that type of thing will know, Philae, the robotic lander on board the Rosetta spacecraft, will try to touch down on the surface of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12. While we await the next episode in this space adventure, another episode in an adventure here on earth is unfolding …

Black sky research

A few days ago I chatted with an industry-based innovations manager who, in passing, mentioned the word ‘black sky research’. We didn’t get a chance to explore this concept further but the phrase stuck in my mind. Then Philip Moriarty tweeted a link to an article on the threat of the impact agenda to blue …