space exploration

Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a space scientist developing telescopes and instruments for satellites. Her passion for communicating her science has also led her back into the classroom, into filming documentaries and appearing on prime time TV with Jeremy Paxman.

When NASA first decided to put a man on the Moon they had a problem: once the Apollo spacecraft was in flight, they would not be able to observe its exact location and neither would they be able to predict it using physics. How could they send astronauts to the Moon if they didn't know where they were? An ingenious mathematician came up with an answer.

It requires only a little processing power, but it's a giant leap for robotkind: engineers at the University of Southampton have developed a way of equipping spacecraft and satellites with human-like reasoning capabilities, which will enable them to make important decisions for themselves.

Chuck Gill caught the space bug as a child when watching Alan Shepherd launch into space. Since then he's worked as a US Air Force navigator, a satellite operator, and in the US intelligence service. These days he's busy reducing carbon emissions and preparing London for the 2012 Olympics. Plus went to see him to find out more about his career.
On the 25th of May 1997 a dramatic collision tore a hole into the space station Mir and sent it hurtling through space. As NASA astronaut Michael Foale tells Plus, the fate of Mir and its crew hinged on a classical set of equations.
Will Einstein's general theory of relativity hold true?
In the last issue Lewis Dartnell explained how chaos on the brain is not only unavoidable but also beneficial. Now he tells us why the same is true for our solar system and sends us on a journey that has been travelled by comets and spacecraft.
  • Beaglemania - The Beagle is missing in action, but it is inspiring a new generation of would-be astronauts.
  • Careers with Maths - Plus has been given a grant to produce posters based on our popular careers library.

In a major and expensive setback for NASA's Mars program, both the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander spacecraft appear to have been lost. Soberingly, while the fate of the Mars Polar Lander is unclear, it appears that the Mars Climate Orbiter was lost due to a simple mathematical error.

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