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It was difficult enough getting the Perseverance rover ready to leave Earth last year in the face of a global pandemic. Now the vehicle is about to confront perhaps its greatest challenge – that of landing on Mars. But “Perseverance” is more than just a name; it’s a battle cry, says Nasa’s head of science …

Aerial footage shows the London to Birmingham leg of the HS2 high-speed rail network – and the current state of its construction. On Thursday the next phase, which will run from the West Midlands to Crewe, was given the final go-ahead. It’s the largest infrastructure project in Europe and now expected to cost more than …

In recent years, black women’s contributions to the space race have started to come to light. Many were recruited as “computers”, meaning that they carried out complex mathematical calculations by hand, before machines were invented that could do the job. Christine Darden started her career in the computer pool, helping the engineers work out the …

image copyrightSue Floodimage captionOn Thin Ice by Sue Flood The Royal Photographic Society has revealed the winners of its Science Photographer of the Year competition, which celebrates the stories behind scientific exploration and application. The competition attracted more than 1,000 entries by amateur and professional photographers, from microscopic observations to images showing climate change in …

This image consists of six photographs taken from the Lunar Module, enhanced and stitched into a single panorama to show the landing scene, along with the location from where Shepard hit the balls Fifty years ago this week, Alan Shepard famously hit two golf balls on the Moon. The first he shanked into a crater. …

There’s a lot of choice about which type of face covering to wear – and in some countries the advice about which one to wear is changing, as we learn more about how the virus spreads. Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert, recently advocated wearing two masks. But does it matter what …

A coronavirus vaccine being developed in Cambridge will aim to “take care of” future variants of the virus, according to its chief scientist. Jonathan Heeney, Cambridge University professor and chief executive of Diosvax, said: “It isn’t the first out of the blocks but it has a longer usability in the future.” He hopes it can …

By Roger HarrabinBBC environment analyst image copyrightWest Cumbria Mining Company image captionThe mine would extract coking coal from beneath the Irish Sea to be used in steel production Pressure is growing on the prime minister to ban a new coal mine in Cumbria. The county council approved the colliery, and the government decided not the …

Butterfly wings are a bit of a mystery and “conventionally considered aerodynamically inefficient”. Researchers have analysed air flow movements behind butterfly and mechanical wings, and found that their wings clap together during the upstroke thrusting the animal forwards. This is crucial for fast take-off and evasive manoeuvres and may help explain the evolution of wings. …

Quiet, solitary and nocturnal, the pangolin has few natural enemies, but researchers believe it is the most trafficked mammal in the world. The tough scales covering its body are sought after for use in Chinese medicine, in the erroneous belief that they have healing properties. The animal has also been of interest to researchers during …