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Proxima b – has a new Earth been discovered?

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent Scientists have announced that they have discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting the closest star to our own solar system. It is big news, opening up the prospect that another world, which could potentially harbour life, is right on our doorstep (well in space terms anyway). What exactly has been found? For a number of years, astronomers have been busily engaged in a search for extrasolar planets or exoplanets. These are planets that orbit …

New Horizons opening up on dwarf-planet Pluto

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent The next 48 hours will prove another important milestone in space exploration, as NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft makes its closest flyby of the dwarf-planet Pluto. The mission will open up a brief but fascinating window on the object, once considered by astronomers to be a planet. So what is New Horizons? Approximately the same size as a baby grand piano, and weighing 454kg, New Horizons is a small unmanned spacecraft packed with instruments …