This week in science

NASA crashes DART craft and more: Understand the world through 7 images

NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA completed its first-ever asteroid deflection test the week of September 22–28, as the Artemis I SLS was removed from the launch pad.

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

Qiuyang Zheng

7. Gas giant

EHT Collaboration, ESO/M. Kornmesser

September 22

Researchers at the European Southern Observatory detected a “hot spot” orbiting the black hole at the center of the Milky Way at one-third the speed of light. Likely a bubble of gas, the hot spot is thought to originate from a flare interacting with the disk of gas around the black hole.

EHT Collaboration, ESO/M. Kornmesser

6. An unlikely ally

Tomoko Kaneko-Ishino

September 26

Researchers determined that two genes mammals inherited from viruses roughly 120 million years ago (RTL5 and RTL6) likely protect the brain from deadly bacteria and viruses. The study was done in mice, but RTL5 and RTL6 are also present in humans.

Tomoko Kaneko-Ishino

5. Crash landing

NASA

September 26

NASA crashed its DART spacecraft into Dimorphos, a 525-foot-wide asteroid 6.8 million miles from Earth. The DART mission is the first test of whether asteroids can be deflected away from our home planet this way, but its results won’t be known until after another satellite is sent to observe in 2024.

ASI/NASA

4. Seeking shelter

NASA/Joel Kowsky

September 27

NASA rolled the SLS for its Artemis I mission back to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center ahead of Hurricane Ian. Just a few hours later, a fire broke out in the building, but there were no reported injuries or damage to the rocket.

NASA/Joel Kowsky

3. First fins

Zhikun Gai

September 28

Researchers discovered 436-million-year-old fossils of a fish with one fin running the length of each side of its body. This provides evidence that separate pectoral and pelvic fins evolved from these single fins, known as the fin-fold hypothesis. The finding illustrates the evolution of limbs that led to arms and legs in land animals.

Zhikun Gai

2. Shields up

NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI)

September 28

Scientists confirmed a theorized protective “shield” of ionized gas called the Magellanic Corona actually exists, using observations from the Hubble Space Telescope and Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer. The corona keeps the Milky Way from siphoning gas from the nearby Magellanic Clouds, allowing them to keep making stars.

NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI)

1. RoboPill

Felice Frankel

September 28

Researchers developed a robotic capsule that maneuvers through the small intestine’s mucus barrier to deliver drugs that currently require injections. Insulin was used in the study, but the device could be used for other drugs that target the small intestine, stomach, or colon.

Felice Frankel