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Michelle Collins
I'm a Hubble Fellow in the Yale University Astronomy department. I study nearby galaxies to learn about their evolution, and the properties of dark matter. I'm also on twitter: @michelle_lmc

Asteroids, Mars and Pluto - a MASSIVE week for space exploration!

Michelle CollinsDec 07, 2014Comments
Well, my goodness, I'm exhausted from following a week of exceptional space mission successes! Apparently, the 1st week of December is a popular one for those looking to be awesome and explore our solar system. Here's a round up of the 3 big highlights of this week. Hayabusa 2 is up-up and away! Hot on the heels of the amazing ESA Rosetta comet landing, a Japanese asteroid chasing mission, ~  read more

Addressing #shirtgate

Michelle CollinsNov 16, 2014Comments
*pokes head above parapet* Alright. So, I considered not writing this post. Because I was very concerned that even expressing an opinion about #shirtgate would lead to a stream of abuse so beyond my comprehension. BUT... The Spectroscope is about delivering you the science news of interest. And I can hardly deny that this has dominated twitter these past few days. And given my association with ~  read more

We landed on a comet! WE LANDED ON A COMET!!!!!!!

Michelle CollinsNov 12, 2014Comments
I don't know what y'all have been doing today, but I have been transfixed by the ESA live-stream coverage of humankind landing a robot onto a comet. #Philae’s view of comet 67P moments before #touchdown. #CometLanding #esa #cnes #space #comet #67P — Observing Space (@ObservingSpace) November 12, 2014 I've posted about the ESA Rosetta mission before, but ~  read more

Academic science isn't sexist OR how to do bad science

Michelle CollinsNov 05, 2014Comments
Last week, the New York Times ran an Op Ed piece that drew significant attention from the academic sphere.  A column by Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci proclaimed (in stark contrast to other recent findings), that 'Academic Science isn't Sexist'. According to the authors, after a careful analysis of the data, they determined that academia itself is not the cause of disparity between the ~  read more

Rocket loaded with ISS cargo explodes on launch

Michelle CollinsOct 29, 2014Comments
Disaster struck during the launch of the Antares rocket this Tuesday. The unmanned Orbital Sciences Corporation rocket exploded 6 seconds after launch. The rocket was meant to propel the Cygnus spacecraft into orbit, so that it could deliver cargo to the International Space Station. The whole event was captured on NASA live stream, and by those watching from the press ~  read more

Australia builds a tractor beam!

Michelle CollinsOct 21, 2014Comments
We are now another step closer to living in the Sci-Fi futures promised by Star Wars, Star Trek and their ilk. A team of laser physicists at the Australia National University (ANU) have built a tractor beam that can attract and repel particles over distances of 20 cm. It's a massive deal for the community, as it represents "a kind of holy grail for laser physicists,” according ~  read more

If you don't follow ISS astronauts on Twitter, you should!

Michelle CollinsOct 20, 2014Comments
As I'm sitting making observations using ground based telescopes today, I am also watching astronaut Reid Wiseman post beautiful pictures and Vines from the International Space Staion! From Earth pictures, to moon settings and lightning storms, feeds like his are packed with fantastic images. Uploaded FROM SPACE. Here's a few below. But seriously. follow Reid and some of his coworkers. Their view ~  read more

Turn your phone into a cosmic ray detector!

Michelle CollinsOct 13, 2014Comments
Every minute your phone sits charging, is a minute it could be both charging AND doing science! The CRAYFIS project (Cosmics Rays Found in Smartphones), developed by scientists at UC Irvine, aims to turn the 1.5 billion smartphones worldwide into a massive cosmic ray detector. Cosmic rays are highly energetic charged particles that travel through space at almost the speed of light, and are ~  read more

Planck pours dust onto the BICEP2 gravity wave claims

Michelle CollinsSep 24, 2014Comments
As many a witty journo and blogger has pointed out, the BICEP2 detection of gravity waves has (probably) bitten the dust. It was a result announced with much fanfare earlier this year: the south pole cosmic microwave background experiment, BICEP2, had seen the tell-tale swirly fingerprint of primordial gravity waves in its polarisation maps, which they believed to be direct evidence for cosmic ~  read more

NASA's MAVEN arrives at Mars!

Michelle CollinsSep 23, 2014Comments
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatilve EvolutioN (MAVEN) satellite is being inserted into its orbit around our neighbouring planet as I type! This mission completed its 10 month journey to Mars today, culminating in a final 33 minute burn to insert the satellite into orbit. I started writing this article at the beginning of the burn, and hopefully, by the time I'm done, MAVEN will be safely orbiting ~  read more

No, the Higgs boson is not about to destroy the Universe

Michelle CollinsSep 08, 2014Comments
The people working at the European Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are hardly strangers to accusations that they're going to destroy the world. Before it was switched on, for example, there was a lot of unneccessary fear-mongering from some folk that the particle accelerator was capable of producing a black hole that would swallow us all out of existance. But, a few years later, we're still ~  read more

A short hosepipe reveals Stonehenge's true shape

Michelle CollinsSep 05, 2014Comments
The shape of the famous Stonehenge in the UK is something that has had archaeologists arguing for some time. Was it always an incomplete circle, as it is now, or did it used to be whole? A dry spell in the UK last summer has brought speculation to an end. The hosepipe used to keep the grass at Stonehenge lush and green was too short to reach the far side of the monument, where the break in the ~  read more

So long, space sex geckos. We hardly knew ye.

Michelle CollinsSep 02, 2014Comments
Sad news from Russia. The 5 geckos sent into space on the Photon-M satellite, so that we might learn about the effect of zero-G on their sexual habits, did not survive their journey. The exact cause of death is still to be determined, but it is thought that the device meant to control their temperature failed, leaving them to freeze. It is not thought to be related to the loss of communication ~  read more

This week, robots take over the Tate Britain art gallery!

Michelle CollinsAug 13, 2014Comments
For the next 5 nights (from 13th-17th August), robots will be taking over the Tate Britain, a london gallery displaying British artwork from 1500s to today. Don't panic though, the robots are not the destructive kind. Their purpose is to allow people to explore the gallery remotely after hours. From 22:00 on 13th August, members of the public will be able to sign up from anywhere in the world ~  read more

Rosetta satellite successfully reaches orbit around comet 67P

Michelle CollinsAug 08, 2014Comments
After a journey that took more than 10 years, the European Space Agency's Rosetta satellite has reached its destination: Solar system comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. This landmark mission is the first of its kind, and is a feat to truly marvel at. The comet and Rosetta are currently between Mars and Jupiter, at a distance of 405 million kilometres from us. But in getting there, Rosetta has ~  read more