This week in science

La Palma volcanic eruption and more: Understand the world through 8 images

Instituto Geologico y Minero de Espana

A successful space mission, a devastating eruption, and two tiny robots...

Here are the biggest science stories of September 1522, told in 8 incredible images.

Europa Press News/Europa Press/Getty Images

8. Catch the wind

Northwestern University

September 22

Northwestern University engineers developed the smallest flying structure ever made. At about the size of a grain of sand, their “microfliers” are built to catch the wind much like floating maple seeds.

Northwestern University

September 22

Archaeologists found evidence that humans have been living in extremely cold climates, comparable to modern-day northern Scandinavia, for thousands of years.

MPI-EVA/ Sarah Pederzani

"Our evidence shows that these human groups were more flexible with regard to the environments they used and more adaptable to different climatic conditions than previously thought."

Lead author Sarah Pederzani

Shutterstock

September 22

Scientists created a robot made from a thin strip of plastic that rolls into a tube and propels itself when exposed to heat. The robot can pull 40 times its own weight. Future iterations may be used in places too small or hot for humans to reach.

Zhai et al./Matter

September 22

Scientists discovered a massive void in space between the Perseus and Taurus molecular clouds — regions of gas and dust where new stars are forming. The void is the result of a supernova, giving insight into the explosion’s aftermath.

S. Bialy, et al. THE ASTROPHYSCIAL JOURNAL LETTERS (2021)

September 21

Paleontologists uncovered fossils linked to four dinosaurs in Montana: a Triceratops, a duck-billed dinosaur, a relative of T. rex, and a fossil that could be the ostrich-like Anzu or a new species.

Rachel Ormiston/Burke Museum/University of Washington

3. Canary Islands eruption

September 20

The Cumbre Vieja volcano, located on La Palma in the Canary Islands, erupted for the first time in 50 years. The eruption has forced evacuations and destroyed buildings. It may also continue for months, according to the Canary Islands Volcanology Institute.

Europa Press News/Europa Press/Getty Images

2. Inspiration

SpaceX

September 18

SpaceX’s all-civilian Inspiration4 mission launched and landed successfully. The crew spent three days in orbit and the mission raised more than $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Inspiration4

September 15

NASA confirmed that thousands of huge volcanic “super-eruptions” occurred on Mars over a 500-million-year period around 4 billion years ago. Each eruption would have released enough gas and dust to change Mars’ climate.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona