Kev Lochun's blog

Predictions from the past

A study of old aurora records has helped develop predictions about future solar activity

Credit: Thinkstock

Visual records of aurorae offer a longer-term view of solar activity than the telescopic sunspot record.

Has Earth life colonised the Solar System?

An asteroid impact could have sent life-bearing material from Earth out to the other planets

Credit: Thinkstock

During the Late Heavy Bombardment, collisions with large asteroids were far more frequent than they are now.

The true nature of our ambiguous ally

Jupiter’s apparent shielding effect might not be all it’s cracked up to be

Nearby Jupiter exerts a powerful influence over life on Earth, and I obviously don’t mean that in the sense of astrology. The planet’s gravity dominates the orbital dynamics of other objects in the Solar System. But is that for better or worse as far as we’re concerned?

Unravelling a rotational riddle

Balls of gas could explain exoplanets with strange orbits and the galaxy’s missing mass

Credit: NASA/NOAO/ESA/the Hubble Helix Nebula Team/M. Meixner (STScI and T.A. Rector (NRAO)

Hot gas ejected from the Helix Nebula as imaged by Hubble in 2003

Seeds from space

Complex organic molecules in interstellar dust clouds could have sparked life on Earth


Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle (SSC/Caltech)

Genesis: space-borne complex carbon molecules may have spawned life on Earth. 

Search for the Avatar world

With the release of James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar, we look at the likelihood of finding a moon like Pandora



Imagine this. In the not too distant future, planetary explorers discover another Earth-like world, a perfect home away from home. And – by an astounding stroke of luck – this world, christened Pandora, resides within the closest star-system to us and so can be reached within just a few years of starship voyage.

The search for a second Earth

Lewis Dartnell sums up the progress so far in the hunt for a planet just like home


Credit: Oliver Burston

Are there Earth-like planets throughout the Universe? We may soon find out. 


Life on Mars

With NASA's Phoenix mission landing on the Red Planet this month, Lewis Dartnell investigates whether it will find evidence that the world is, or ever has been, suitable for life...


Credit: Art: Kees Veenenbos/Data: Mola Science Team

This artist’s impression by renowned planetary artist Kees Veenenbos depicts the view to the east of the proposed Phoenix landing site, just west of the Heimdall Crater in the northern polar regions.

Life...but not as we know it

Could strange life-forms exist in space? Lewis Dartnell investigates.

Credit: Oliver Burston

One of the main difficulties of astrobiology, the search for life beyond Earth, is in knowing just what to look for. Focus your attention too narrowly, by concentrating only on terrestrial-like life, and you could overlook alien organisms; consider too many possibilities and you could waste both effort and money looking for nigh-on unrecognisable variations in unlikely locations.

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