It has been written to assist the media in planning and researching future stories related to space science and astronomy, particularly those with UK involvement. It is not intended to be fully comprehensive. Dates and times may be subject to change.
7 FEBRUARY: LAUNCH OF ATLANTIS SPACE SHUTTLE AND COLUMBUS LAB
At 1945 GMT on 7 February, the space shuttle Atlantis is set to launch on a 10-day mission to deliver the Columbus laboratory to the International Space Station (ISS). The Columbus laboratory is a European Space Agency module for the ISS and will be used by astronauts to carry out experiments in a weightless environment.
ESA astronauts Leopold Eyharts from France and Hans Schlegel from Germany will be aboard Atlantis and will help commission the laboratory. Former fighter pilot Eyharts will then live on the ISS for the next three months.FURTHER INFORMATION
On 7 and 8 February leading geophysicists will meet at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London to discuss the latest research in the science of climate change. Topics under discussion include the causes and effects of glaciation and deglaciation; changes in sea level, evidence of past and future weather patterns, the interplay between tectonics and climate and ocean circulation; the effects of volcanism and seafloor gas emission and extraterrestrial effects on climate.
The meeting runs from 0945 to 1745 on 7 February and 0920 to 1530 on 8 February and is open to accredited media representatives.CONTACT
Dr Roberto Trotta, Norman Lockyer Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and Oxford University scientist, will give the second RAS lunchtime lecture. He will discuss the 96% of the Universe that remains largely unknown to modern science and the cutting-edge techniques that scientists are using to reveal its nature.
The lunchtime lectures are open to everyone and take place in the newly-refurbished Burlington House, the headquarters of the RAS off Piccadilly in central London. The lectures take place at 1pm on the first Tuesday of each month and the audience can take their seats from 12.45.FURTHER INFORMATION
Robert Massey | alfa
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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