This week in science

Jupiter's strange Spot and more: Understand the world through 8 images

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

A strange occurrence on Jupiter and a new way to study Covid-19...

Here are the biggest science stories of September 23–29, told in 8 striking images.

Erik Simonsen/Photodisc/Getty Images

September 24

Researchers discovered human footprints in New Mexico from 21,000 to 23,000 years ago. The footprints show that humans inhabited North America before the Last Glacial Maximum — when migration routes from Asia were blocked by ice.

M. Bennett, et al. SCIENCE (2021)

7. Fire in the sky

© Brandon Warren

September 24

A fireball was captured on film over North Carolina. More than 100 witnesses reported seeing the fireball throughout Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

NASA Meteor Watch

6. Room with a view

Jared Isaacman

September 25

Inspiration4 crew member Jared Isaacman shared a video from the first night of the all-civilian mission showing a view of Brazil from the Crew Dragon capsule in orbit.

Jared Isaacman

5. Covid in color

Texas Biomed

September 27

Scientists created a colorized version of the Covid-19 virus to use in animal models. The easily visible virus could help researchers better understand how Covid-19 spreads and develop better treatments.

Texas Biomed

4. Star snack

NASA/JPL-Caltech

September 27

Researchers documented a star being devoured by an intermediate black hole using X-rays emitted during the event. Intermediate black holes are relatively small and hard to observe under normal circumstances.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

3. Zen and the art of sublimation

© Nicolas Taberlet / Nicolas Plihon

September 27

Scientists demonstrated that the phenomenon of “zen stones” — stones sometimes found balanced on ice pedestals — is caused by shade from the stone stopping the ice directly beneath it from sublimating in sunlight.

© Nicolas Taberlet / Nicolas Plihon

September 27

Astronomers discovered wind speeds on the boundary of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot increased about 8 percent from 2009 to 2020. The change was too small to notice without data from Hubble but adds one more mystery to Jupiter’s poorly understood Spot.

NASA, ESA, Michael H. Wong (UC Berkeley)

September 29

Researchers developed an A.I.-powered face mask that can change the pore size of its filter in response to environmental conditions. The mask could adapt to make breathing easier when higher filtration isn’t needed.

Adapted from ACS Nano 2021