This week in science

Mars meteoroid strikes and more: Understand the world through 7 images

The cause of a 2021 marsquake has been found.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA discovered recent quakes on Mars that were caused by meteoroids the week of October 26–November 2, and astronomers discovered two potentially dangerous asteroids lurking near Earth.

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

ESA & NASA/Solar Orbiter/EUI Team

7. Rapid eye movement

Igor Siwanowicz

October 26

Researchers found fruit flies can move their retinas the same way humans move their entire eyeballs to focus on objects and judge depth. Further research could inform studies on vision in general, and even potentially help us better understand disorders like schizophrenia, which impairs eye movement.

Igor Siwanowicz

6. Quiet corona

ESA & NASA/Solar Orbiter/EUI Team

October 27

ESA released the highest resolution video ever captured of the “quiet corona” — the Sun’s surface when it’s not experiencing significant eruptions. The sight was captured by Solar Orbiter’s closest flyby yet, at two-thirds the distance between the Earth and Sun.

ESA & NASA/Solar Orbiter/EUI Team

5. Seismic strike

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

October 27

NASA determined quakes detected by the InSight lander last December were caused by meteoroids. Their craters are the largest the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has watched form, and the impacts scattered ice that had been buried under the surface.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

4. Fun and games

Samadi Galpayage

October 27

For the first time, researchers observed play behavior in insects. In their experiment, bumblebees repeatedly chose to roll small wooden balls for no reward. That suggests insects experience some kind of positive feelings, making them far more complex than commonly thought.

Samadi Galpayage

3. Spectral star

ESO/VPHAS+ team/Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

October 31

The European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope captured the remnants of the Vela supernova. The ghostly image shows the closest supernova remnant we know of, just 800 light-years from Earth.

ESO/VPHAS+ team/Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

2. Too close for comfort

DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine

October 31

Astronomers spotted three near-Earth asteroids inside the orbit of Earth and Venus — a notoriously difficult place to spot asteroids due to the Sun’s glare. Two qualify as “planet killers,” or asteroids large than one kilometer across that could pose a threat to Earth.

DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine

1. True colors

Klaus Wolkenstein

November 1

A University of Göttingen scientist uncovered the color patterns of scallops from the Triassic period using UV light. At 240 million years old, they’re the oldest shells known to retain their colors. The study shows color variation based on region, with diversity similar to modern-day shells.

Klaus Wolkenstein