| Groups Welcome


PLATO and CHEOPS are two European Space Agency missions aimed at characterising exoplanets. CHEOPS is an S-class mission (small mission in ESA’s science program) which aims to characterise exoplanets already known to be orbiting around nearby bright stars. CHEOPS will target Earth- to Neptune-sized planets. PLATO is an M-class mission (medium size mission) aimed at finding  terrestrial exoplanets in orbits out to the habitable zone (HZ) of solar-type stars …

Read More

Beta Pictoris is one of the most ideal targets for studying planet formation. The young 23 Myr system consists of a bright central star (easily visible with the naked eye) surrounded by a edge-on debris disk composed of dust and gas. The system has also been photographed repeatedly with direct imaging (discovery paper) which has revealed the presence of a giant planet which we see moving here (the star …

Read More

A real problem in the space situational awareness community, is the lack of a shared validated catalogue of known space debris. This holds back progress in a wide range of areas from operations to fundamental research. Could an open, borderless, decentralised, trusteless space object catalogue be the solution? If so, how could one ensure the catalogue was tamper proof? For an entirely open ledger of space debris objects to work, …

Read More

High resolution up-to-date images of the PLATO exoplanet mission are hard to find. I’ll collect high resolution PLATO images here as I come across them. Download Image3500 x 2121 pixels, 3.6 MBCopyright: OHB System AGCredit: OHB System AG


Our new paper is out today on the first detection of nitrogen in the famous planetary system: β Pictoris. The debris disc surrounding β Pictoris has a gas composition rich in carbon and oxygen, relative to solar abundances. Two possible scenarios have been proposed to explain this enrichment: 1. The gas being naturally rich in C and O. 2. Radiation pressure from the star expels the gas outwards, leaving …

Read More

One of the key scientific goals of PLATO is to detect terrestrial exoplanets in the habitable zone (HZ) of solar-type stars (up to orbits of one year), and characterise their bulk properties to determine their habitability. Earth remains the only known example where life has successfully emerged, and we can’t yet say what conditions are most suitable for life. We use the HZ as a tool to determine which …

Read More

The PLATO mission will monitor the brightness variations of more than 200,000 stars to look for planets which transit their host stars. TESS will also utilise the transit technique to focus on targeting bright host stars, to look for Earth-sized planets. It is thus not surprising when people end up thinking: why launch two space-based exoplanet spacecraft to look for Earth-sized planets? The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched …

Read More
Credit: T. Pyle (SSC), JPL-Caltech, NASA.

This summer will be the first time that we’ll be able to observe the Hill sphere of a directly imaged exoplanet as it passes in front of its host star! The exoplanet, Beta Pictoris b, is a young (~20 million years old) planet orbiting the star beta Pictoris. Here is an image showing the planet photographed in 2003 and then later in 2009: As chance would have it, we see …

Read More

I came across this image whilst doing some work and it made me halt my work for a bit as I was taken by it’s beauty. What is seen is an extremely tiny part of the sky, which like any other part of the sky, is just filled with galaxies which each one of them host on the order of a hundred billion stars. In fact, if you look …

Read More

Have your gmail hacked and it’s very likely that you’ll also loose access to your other accounts as well. Your PayPal, Facebook and Twitter could all be reset within minutes locking you out and making  reclaiming them an absolute nightmare. To avoid this, I enabled the second factor authentication on my gmail account. Since then I’ve learnt that there is an even a more secure way to stop those up-to-no-good-hackers: The …

Read More