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Several Uppsala researchers involved in top breakthroughs of 2014

2014-12-19

Anders Eriksson and his colleagues following the landing of Philae on comet 67P.

Rosetta’s arrival at the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko and the landing of Philae is this year’s greatest scientific achievement, according to journal Science. Also on the list of the top breakthroughs is the discovery of birds’ evolutionary ‘big bang’. Uppsala researchers have been part of both these successful research projects.

‘It’s great, really great that a mission of exploration such as this has been chosen in the tough competition against everyone else’, says researcher Anders Eriksson at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics to the local paper Uppsala Nya Tidning.

Uppsala University, the Swedish Institute of Space Physics, and the Swedish National Space Board hosted a live event in November for everyone who wanted to watch in real-time as space probe Rosetta’s lander was deployed onto the comet.

Both Uppsala University and the Swedish Institute of Space Physics have been involved since the start of this big space project. Among other things, special instruments have been contributed and optical filters for Rosetta’s scientific camera OSIRIS. The camera has already sent numerous photos of the comet back to earth.

On Science’s list of this year’s ten top scientific breakthroughs is also the research that shows birds’ evolutionary ‘big bang’. In a large international cooperation, scientists have mapped the genomes of 48 bird species and showed that a more or less explosive development took place 67 million years ago when the dinosaurs died out. Many new niches in nature became available, causing the development of many new groups of birds.

Researchers at Uppsala University have been involved in roughly one third of the scientific articles published more or less simultaneously, earlier in December.

– Of course it’s great that Uppsala University can play an important role in this kind of context. It strengthens the image of the Evolutionary Biology Centre as one of the University’s leading research environments, with a very strong international presence, says Hans Ellegren, professor of evolutionary biology.