This week in science

NASA's electric plane and more: Understand the world through 9 images

Originally Published: 

The week of May 6–12, NASA took another step toward the future of aviation, while a sample from the ancient past began its journey to Earth.

Here are the biggest science stories of the week told through 9 extraordinary images.

9. Hands-free handwriting
May 12

Researchers from the BrainGate collaboration used a tiny brain-computer interface to translate brain signals for handwriting into readable text on a computer.
May 11

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft blasted off from 4-billion-year-old asteroid Bennu. The craft will take two years to arrive back on Earth with a sample from the asteroid.

NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona

7. Shark in the clay

Sebastian Stumpf
May 11

Researchers identified a new species of ancient shark, Durnonovariaodus maiseyi, from a 150-million-year-old fossil found in England’s Kimmeridge Clay Formation.

Sebastian Stumpf

6. Make like a tree

Dorling Kindersley
May 11

A study of Massospondylus carinatus, a dinosaur that lived in what’s now southern African, revealed its growth varied from season to season based on environmental conditions. Its bones revealed growth rings, which researchers likened to those in trees.

Kimi Chapelle

5. Diamonds are forever

Yaakov Weiss
May 11

Researchers developed a method to analyze and date the fluid inside low-grade diamonds, giving them more insight into the deep geological history of the areas where they’re found.

Yaakov Weiss
May 11

Images of Jupiter taken with infrared, visible, and ultraviolet sensors revealed details of the gas giant’s atmosphere that aren’t apparent on the visible spectrum alone, including vastly different views of the Great Red Spot.

International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/NASA/ESA, M.H. Wong and I. de Pater (UC Berkeley) et al.

3. Propeller power

NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes
May 10

NASA’s experimental X-57 Maxwell electric plane spun its propellers as part of its high -voltage ground test. It was the first time the propellers were powered by the same motor that will be used in flight.

NASA Photo / Lauren Hughes

2. Animating the air

Brigham Young University
May 7

Researchers from Brigham Young University created free-floating animations in the air using hologram projectors that don’t require a screen. Naturally, they used the technology to recreate scenes from Star Wars and Star Trek.

May 6

A study of fossils that preserve ancient animals’ inner ear structure suggests that common ancestors of birds and crocodiles began singing to their young as early as 245 million years ago.

Michael Hanson and Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar

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