Oxford’s Space Age

first_imgOxford academics have helped create the Venus Express, a spacecraft devoted solely to studying planet Venus.The probe came into action recently. It takes photos using ultraviolet and infrared cameras which provide data on the atmosphere of the planet. This allows scientists to compare what the planet looks like at different wavelengths, revealing the physical conditions of the planet.“A puzzle for nearly a century”Professor Fred Taylor, one of the Venus Express scientists and a researcher at Oxford University said, “The features seen on Venus in ultraviolet light have been a puzzle to astronomers for nearly a century. These new images have revealed the structure in the clouds that produces them and shows how they result from complex meteorological behaviour.”Oxford’s relationship with the European Space Agency (ESA) is to be strengthened soon with the opening of a major research centre at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.“New models, techniques, equipment”The new centre will focus on space robotics and the changing atmosphere of the Earth. These will help European scientific institutions develop advanced climate change models. It will also provide new techniques and equipment for improved planetary exploration.Sharon Bowles, Lib Dem MEP for Oxfordshire commented, “This recognises the tremendous contribution that science in the UK has made to the European space effort. I’m confident also that the centre’s climate change focus will be bolstered by the UK’s acknowledged excellence in climate science.”last_img

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