This week in science

Martian carbon signatures and more: Understand the world through 7 images

NASA

© German Archaeological Institute, Berlin (Germany)

NASA’s Curiosity rover found possible hints of ancient biological activity on Mars the week of January 12–19, as researchers uncovered ancient animal hybrids and worrying climate trends on Earth.

Here are the week’s biggest science stories, told in 7 stunning images.

NASA/Caltech-JPL/MSSS

7. Warming world

Berkeley Earth

January 12

Researchers completed a yearly global climate analysis, finding 2021 was the sixth warmest year since 1850. Around eight percent of the world — 1.5 billion people — experienced record high temperatures.

Berkeley Earth

6. Resistance decoded

The University of Queensland

January 13

Scientists discovered a new gene in E. coli that makes it resistant to common antibiotics and can be quickly transferred between bacteria. Understanding this gene could help in the development of alternative treatments.

Professor Mark Schembri

January 14

Palaeogeneticists found the earliest example of crossbreeding in a 4,500-year-old tomb in modern-day Syria. Horse-like animals called kungas found there were hybrids between donkeys and the Syrian wild ass. Kungas predate the arrival of horses and are depicted in Sumerian art.

© Glenn Schwartz / John Hopkins University

4. Spoiling the view

Caltech

January 17

Researchers found Starlink satellites now appear in 20 percent of Zwicky Transient Facility’s twilight images used to detect near-Earth asteroids, up from 0.5 percent in 2019. The streaks these 1,800 satellites leave on images can obscure scientific observations.

Caltech

3. Signs of life?

NASA/Caltech-JPL/MSSS

January 17

NASA’s Curiosity rover found a carbon signature in rock samples that’s associated with biological activity on Earth. Scientists need to rule out other possibilities for its origin before declaring it a sign of ancient life on Mars.

NASA/Caltech-JPL/MSSS

January 19

Scientists found evidence of a liquid ocean inside Saturn’s moon Mimas. The finding could expand the criteria for potentially habitable ocean worlds.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

January 19

Researchers produced an in-depth study of the highly efficient flight of Ptiliidae beetles, which includes the smallest non-parasitic insects ever discovered. Understanding how these beetles fly helps scientists understand their behaviors and could aid development of miniaturized flying robots.

Modified from Farisenkov et al. (2022)