This week in science

Webb Telescope passes key milestone and more: Understand the world through 8 images

JODY AMIET/AFP/Getty Images

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope deployed its crucial sunshield and secondary mirror the week of December 30–January 5, as China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter snapped a selfie with Mars.

Here are the week’s biggest science stories, told in 8 amazing images.

China National Space Agency

8. Greetings from Mars

China National Space Agency

January 1

China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter captured a selfie in front of Mars using a special camera deployed just for the occasion. The orbiter has been circling Mars since February 10, 2021, and is part of a mission to look for water beneath the Martian surface.

China National Space Agency

January 3

Scientists used the Event Horizon Telescope array to refine the picture of the first-ever image captured of a black hole. Using eight telescopes, the team collected 350 terabytes of data to provide information missed in previous images of the M87* black hole.

P. Arras, et al. NATURE ASTRONOMY (2022)

January 4

The ESO released stunning new images of the Orion constellation’s Flame Nebula to coincide with a new study of the region. The new images are collected from optical, infrared, and radio observations.

ESO/Th. Stanke & ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA, Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

January 4

Scientists developed a new neuroimaging technique that can spot biochemical signs of multiple sclerosis early in the disease’s development. Detecting MS before brain lesions develop could lead to better treatment outcomes.

Radiological Society of North America

4. Fighting pollution with fruit

Empa

January 4

Researchers developed a cellulose coating that can extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables while being easy to wash off and safe to consume. Widespread use could reduce food waste and dependence on plastic packaging.

Empa

3. Safe from the Sun

NASA

January 4

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope successfully unfurled its 70-foot sunshield on January 4 and deployed its secondary mirror the next day. The shield is needed to keep the Webb telescope cool enough to operate, while the mirror will reflect light to the telescope.

NASA/Chris Gunn

2. Viral transfer

Manuel Almagro Rivas

January 5

Researchers determined that gene transfer between viruses and their hosts is a major driver of evolution in host species. Understanding how viruses manipulate hosts’ genes could lead to better anti-viral treatments.

Manuel Almagro Rivas

January 5

Scientists created a new supercomputer model to visualize our solar system’s formation, concluding that bands of high pressure in gas rings around the Sun determined the size of Earth. The timing of when these pressure bands appear could mean the difference between giant planets forming and no planets forming at all.

Andrea Isella/Rice University