[caption id="attachment_602" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Cosmic dust close to Orion's belt. Credit: ESO/APEX (MPIfR/ESO/OSO)/T. Stanke et al./Igor Chekalin/Digitized Sky Survey 2"][/caption]
I took a couple of weeks off blogging while I had my exams at the start of the month. This is what I missed.
ESA has approved a billion-euro mission to Jupiter's icy moons, called Juice (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer). The spacecraft will (hopefully) launch in 2022 and reach Jupiter eight years later in 2030. When it gets there it will first fly by Europa a couple of times before moving out to higher latitudes to look down on the poles and magnetic field of Jupiter, before slowing down to study the subsurface ocean and geology of Ganymede. The BBC has a nice round up of the announcement with a few of interviews, including one with Imperial's own Michele Dougherty.
Also at the BBC, Jonathan Amos dons clean room gear to go and have a look at the Mid-Infrared Instrument (Miri) for the James Webb Space Telescope, before it gets shipped to NASA.
The origin of a type of stellar explosion known as a type 1a supernova (that has been catching my eye for a while now) has been cleared up a little, or muddied further, depending on which way you look at it. Apparently, both explanations that have been put forward to explain the impressive death of certain stars could be right. I might write a longer post about this, if I get the time.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft revealed that asteroid Vesta is a survivor of the formation of planets in the early solar system, and plenty more to boot.
Kepler finds an invisible exoplanet. Or rather, researchers detected it based on its interactions with other planets, they didn't "see" it directy. Also, check out the last author's affiliation on the paper that announced the result.
A beautiful time lapse of Iceland and its midnight sun that just won the Grand Prize in the X Prize Foundation’s video contest "Why Do You Explore?". And a beautiful picture of some cosmic dust.
Finally, a little self promotion: With some fellow masters students, I'm co-running a radio show on Imperial's student radio station. I was there on Wednesday talking about the not-so-supermoon you might have seen the other weekend. You can listen to past episodes here or listen live every Wednesday from 12-1 London time. Check it out if you like science and/or people messing up on live radio!
Did anything else notable happen while I wasn't looking?