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BellaOnline's Astronomy Editor

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Satellites & Probes

The Hubble Space Telescope is the most famous astronomical satellite. But meet some of the others. What are they finding out and how are space probes complementing these discoveries?

Astrofest 2014 star
“The Universe comes to London,” read the banner on the courtyard wall of the Kensington Conference and Events Centre. Images of the Universe, people who study it, ideas about how it works, and equipment for seeing it occupied the center for the two days of European Astrofest 2014.

Astronomers on the Mountain Tops star
Big telescopes on high mountains, drawing astronomers to some exotic-sounding places. Is it as glamorous as it sounds? Not really, says one astronomer who describes some of the symptoms people suffer at high altitudes.

Cassini Mission and Website star
The space probe Cassini has been sending home fantastic pictures of Saturn and its satellites since 2004, and its mission has been extended twice. Its website has a wealth of images and some interesting material for teachers, students and astronomy fans.

Christmas in the Skies star
Christmas is a special day with a magic of its own. A Christmas eclipse is a great treat and centuries ago a long-awaited comet finally showed up on Christmas day. On the other hand, imagine spending the holidays a quarter of a million miles from home as the crew of Apollo 8 did.

Exploring the Apollo Landing Sites star
NASA sent the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to the Moon to spy out sites for future manned missions. It doesn't look like they'll be sending anybody to the Moon, but LRO has documented the Apollo landing sites. Astronomy writer and space expert Ian Ridpath takes us to the Moon for a look.

Exploring the Apollo Landing Sites star
NASA sent the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to the Moon to spy out sites for future manned missions. It doesnīt look like theyīll be sending anybody to the Moon, but LRO has documented the Apollo landing sites. Astronomy writer and space expert Ian Ridpath takes us to the Moon for a look.

Good-bye Spirit star
Millions of people followed the treks of the Martian rovers Spirit and Opportunity as they explored the red planet. In 2009 Spirit became trapped and was last heard from in March 2010. After a year being unable to contact her, on May 24, 2011, with sadness, NASA formally ended her mission.

Hubble 3D - film review star
For over two decades a special telescope has given us breath-taking views of the cosmos. The Hubble Space Telescope has lasted this long through servicing by space shuttle astronauts, but the final mission is over. This IMAX film is a tribute to the iconic instrument - is there a theater near you?

Rosetta the Comet Chaser star
The climax of an amazing space mission is set for summer 2014. Rosetta, the European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft, has already traveled for ten years and billions of miles in order to rendezvous with a comet, accompany it as it moves into the inner Solar System, and deploy a lander.

Rosetta the Comet Chaser star
Rosetta, the European Space Agency (ESA) spacecraft, traveled for ten years and billions of miles in order to rendezvous with a comet, accompany it as it moves into the inner Solar System, and deploy a lander.

Telstar - Herald of the Modern Age star
The Space Age has changed the way we communicate, and in 1962 Telstar was the herald of this change. It was an experimental satellite, but it helped to make the world more intimate. Telstar was disabled by nuclear testing, but it lives on in a pop song and modern telecom satellites.

Titan - Planet-sized Moon of Saturn star
Titan was a mystery for three and a half centuries. Itīs a giant moon shrouded in impenetrable clouds, and has only recently begun to share its secrets. Why do scientists say itīs like Earth? Is it time to book a vacation to visit the lakes and mountains of Titan?

Titan Facts for Kids star
Saturnīs moon Titan is bigger than a planet. Itīs the only moon with a thick atmosphere. In fact the atmosphere is so smoggy, we canīt see the surface. But the Cassini-Huygens mission has found out many of its secrets, including lakes and sand dunes and maybe volcanoes.

Top Astronomy Stories 2012 star
What were the big astronomy stories of the year 2012? Here is my choice of the top ten plus a non-story. What do you think?

Top Ten Astronomy Stories of 2013 star
What were the big astronomy events of 2013? Here are my top ten choices and they include a big bang over Russia, a Moon goddess and Jade Rabbit, a telescope in the high Andean desert to look for the first galaxies and the launch one of the most ambitious space missions ever.

Voyager 1 – Gas Giants and a Last Look Homeward star
When a rare planetary alignment opened up the outer Solar System, Voyager 1 was sent forth. It observed the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn and their moons. At nearly 4 billion miles from the Sun, the probe turned and took one last picture of home before continuing its journey to the stars.

Voyager 1 – the First Starship star
Has Voyager 1 finally left the Solar System? No, that won't happen for tens of thousands of years. But it has left the bubble that the solar wind makes in space. The spacecraft is in the space between the stars, moving through a plasma made from ancient supernova explosions.

Voyager 2 - The Grand Tour star
Most of our knowledge of Neptune and Uranus is based on Voyager 2's visits. Its grand tour of the four giant planets used a rare alignment of the planets that let the gravity of each one boost the spacecraft to the next one. No other probe has been to either of the ice giants.

Voyagers - Preparing for the Grand Tour star
In 2013 Voyager 1 became the first starship as it slipped into interstellar space, the space between the Sun and the stars. What was a NASA probe doing twelve billion miles from home? What was the origin of its 36-year mission?

Voyagers - the Golden Record star
The Voyagers are on a mission that will eventually take them to the stars. They are both carrying a message from Earth. What images, sounds and music were chosen to represent the people of Earth?

Water on the Moon star
Everybody had known for a long time that the Moon was bone dry. In the nineties probes found some evidence of water. After a big announcement of water on the Moon, it went back again to being described as dry. Whatīs the story in the 21st century?

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