This week in science

NASA CAPSTONE launch plans and more: Understand the world through 7 images

NASA

NASA/Daniel Rutter

NASA announced plans for a crucial Artemis launch the week of June 8–15, while researchers discovered a hidden black hole and a surprising community of social animals.

Here are the biggest science stories of the week, told in 7 incredible images.

Luiz F. Ribeiro

7. Cyber skin

Takeuchi et al.

June 9

Scientists created living skin that can be grown on robotic hands, which allows the skin to distort without tearing when the robot moves. The synthetic skin gives the robot a softer touch and can even repair itself.

Takeuchi et al.

6. Untethered

STScI/NASA/ESA

June 10

Researchers discovered what they believe to be a free-floating black hole by observing gravitational lensing in a distant star. It’s the first time a floating black hole has been seen without a partner star and suggests microlensing could help find others.

STScI/NASA/ESA

June 14

Researchers studied the Amphylaeus morosus bee — which recently transitioned to living in colonies — for hints to social evolution. The bees quickly transitioned to having just one reproductive female per colony, supporting the idea that individuals will forgo offspring to help the group.

James Dorey Photography

4. Swimmer’s ear

IVPP

June 14

Researchers found evidence in an ancient fish fossil that the human middle ear evolved from our fish ancestors’ spiracle — an opening behind the eye that aids in breathing. Scientists have believed that to be the case for decades, but this is the first fossil evidence.

IVPP

3. We didn’t start the fire

Ian Glasspool

June 14

Researchers found evidence for a 430-million-year-old wildfire, the earliest ever discovered. The finding gives insight into the amount of plant cover and atmospheric oxygen at the time, and suggests wildfires were a significant factor in shaping the Earth’s environment.

Ian Glasspool

2. Preparing for Artemis

NASA/Daniel Rutter

June 14

NASA announced it will target a launch date of its CAPSTONE spacecraft on June 25 or later. CAPSTONE will test an elliptical orbit around the Moon in preparation for the launch of an orbital outpost as part of the Artemis mission.

NASA/Daniel Rutter

1. Landing is the hard part

Richard L. Essner, Jr.

June 15

Researchers learned tiny frogs of the genus Brachycephalus have trouble landing after a jump because their ear canals are the smallest ever found, reducing their ability to orient themselves in space. (Honestly, we just needed you to see this video.)

Luiz F. Ribeiro