As the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission begins its six-month journey to the planet, we talk to its director-general Professor Jan Woerner about drilling into the Martian surface and pose the crucial question: is there life on Mars? We also find out how scientists are recycling historic data to create a virtual reality simulation of the planet’s terrain, and explore some of the obstacles to a crewed Martian mission.
Sending astronauts to Mars poses several large challenges, among them a long journey filled with life-threatening radiation from cosmic ray exposure and solar flares. Not to mention the fact that we haven’t yet worked out how to get them back again.
This month, Horizon looks at the growing field of bio-inspired robotics to find out how nature is inspiring machine design. We investigate the surgical tools that mimic how octopus arms become flexible or stiff on demand, sensors based on the orientation ability of maggots, and marine robots inspired by lilypads, fish and mussels.
In April, Horizon looks beyond the hype of smart drugs and brain stimulation to examine less extreme ways for people to sharpen their mental abilities. We find out about the wearable tech that can train police officers to make better decisions, discover how a videogame can stimulate empathy, and learn how meditation changes your brain.
The sooner-than-expected discovery of gravitational waves, announced in February, has given a new impetus to scientists in the field, who are now working to make sense of what it means not only for their research but also for our understanding of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
Understanding ripples in space-time could shed light on universe evolution.
Communities should provide critical input into the next global climate report in order to help capture local experiences, says Dr Roberts.