Short items

  • The UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and  Airbus have formed a strategic partnership to fund applied research. The EPSRC is calling for outline proposals that will lead to the development of one year research proposals, drawing upon a range of disciplines, with the aim of creating a ’nervous system’ for aircraft, enabling airflow control, load control, health monitoring and a short to medium term aim of in-flight testing by 2010.   Closing date for proposals is   7 November 2006.   
  • Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Alistair Darling, has announced that the UK will subscribe a further €31 million to the European Space Agency’s development of the Galileo programme, Europe’s future civil satellite navigation system.   The development phase of Galileo is a joint EU and European Space Agency (ESA) programme, the costs of which are shared equally between the organisations. The current costs of the development programme are estimated by the EU and ESA to be €1.5 billion.   
  • Applications for the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC)’s cross-disciplinary fellowship scheme close on 15 November 2006. The scheme is designed to develop a cross-disciplinary approach to enhance the UK’s capability to exploit the Mars exploration programme. Proposals   are encouraged from a broad range of areas such as: identifying universal signatures for life; defining the extreme boundary conditions for life; explaining how the prerequisites for life might arise as part of planetary formation.     
  • Carl Pilcher, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientist and administrator, took over as the new director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) on   18 September.