JWST and the imagination

An infrared image of the 'Pillars of Creation' in the Eagle Nebula, photographed by the Hubble space telescope in 2014. Credit: NASA/ESA/STScI/AURA

When the Hubble space telescope launched in April 1990, I was too young to understand what was going on – but not yesterday, when NASA launched its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Every once in a while, the Hubble telescope team releases an image of thousands of stars packed into one shot, the…… Continue reading JWST and the imagination

The pitfalls of thinking that ASTROSAT will be ‘India’s Hubble’

The Hubble Space Telescope needs no introduction. It’s become well known for its stunning images of nebulae and star-fields, and it wouldn’t be amiss to say the telescope has even become synonymous with images of strange beauty often from distant cosmic shores. No doubt saying something is like the Hubble Space Telescope simplifies the task of…… Continue reading The pitfalls of thinking that ASTROSAT will be ‘India’s Hubble’

Money for science

Spending money on science has been tied to evaluating the value of spin-offs, assessing the link between technological advancement and GDP, and dissecting the metrics of productivity, but the debate won’t ever settle no matter how convincingly each time it is resolved. For a piece titled The Telescope of the 2030s, Dennis Overbye writes in The…… Continue reading Money for science

Why you should care about the New Horizons probe nearing Pluto

The Wire May 29, 2015 https://twitter.com/Alex_Parker/status/603533857523044352 Alex Parker is a planetary astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute, Texas, and he posted his tweet just as I started writing this piece. And not just for Parker – it’s an exciting time for everyone, an exhilarating period in the history of space exploration. In just under 48 days – on…… Continue reading Why you should care about the New Horizons probe nearing Pluto

Looking for life? Look for pollution.

Four-thousand years on Earth and we’ve a lot of dirt to show for it. Why would an advanced alien civilization be any different? That’s the motivation that three astrophysicists from Harvard University have used to determine that powerful telescopes could look for signs of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in alien atmospheres as signs of alien civilization. “If the civilization reaches…… Continue reading Looking for life? Look for pollution.