This week in science

Hubble Telescope anniversary and more: Understand the world through 9 images

NASA, ESA, STScI, Joseph DePasquale , Alyssa Pagan

-/AFP/Getty Images

The Hubble Space Telescope celebrated its 32nd birthday with a spectacular new image the week of April 14–20, as researchers looked into the driving forces of wildfires and bird species loss.

Here are the biggest science stories of the week, told in 9 incredible images.

Bloomberg Creative/Bloomberg Creative Photos/Getty Images

9. Controlled burn

Cody Evers

April 14

A study of 2020’s West Coast wildfires showed high wind was the main driver of the fires, but topography, tree age, and canopy height also contributed. The findings could help shape future wildfire prevention efforts.

Cody Evers

8. Visualizing history

Yu Tang, Jacopo Niccolò Cerasoni

April 15

Researchers developed two new methods to create accurate visualizations of artifacts found by anthropologists and archaeologists. The simple new processes could help scientists determine and communicate the meaning of their findings more easily.

Yu Tang, Jacopo Niccolò Cerasoni

7. Back from the brink

Riley Fortier

April 15

For the first time in 40 years, scientists found the flower Gasteranthus extinctus in the wild. The highly endangered flower was named extinctus in 2000, because scientists thought it was already extinct when it was named.

Riley Fortier

6. Protecting bird biodiversity

Kathleen Carroll/Anna Pidgeon

April 15

Researchers created high-resolution maps of bird biodiversity in the U.S. to help with conservation. The maps are highly detailed, showing areas where conservation efforts need to be concentrated.

Kathleen Carroll/Anna Pidgeon

April 18

Scientists created a new quadrupedal robot called SQuRo (small-sized quadruped robotic rat), which is more agile in narrow spaces. Based on the movement of cave rats, the robots are able to carry far more weight than other similar machines.

Qing Shi/Beijing Institute of Technology, China

4. Shake it off

Dr Derek Hennen

April 18

Researchers described 17 new species of millipede found in the Appalachian Mountains. One eye-catching find was named Nannaria swiftae after pop star Taylor Swift.

Dr Derek Hennen

"Her music helped me get through the highs and lows of graduate school, so naming a new millipede species after her is my way of saying thanks.”

Lead author Derek Hennen

MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images/MediaNews Group/Getty Images

April 19

NASA released a special image for the Hubble Space Telescope’s 32nd anniversary. The image shows the unusually close five galaxies that make up the Hickson Compact Group 40.

Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

2. An explosive algorithm

Piero Poli

April 20

Using data from the January 15, 2022, Hunga Tonga Ha’apai volcanic eruption, scientists created an algorithm that can locate eruptions almost instantaneously and predict its size. The algorithm could help coordinate the response to future eruptions.

Piero Poli

1. Alien atmosphere

NASA/SDO

April 20

Scientists determined Venus’ fast-moving atmosphere keeps the planet slowly rotating rather than being fully tidally locked by the Sun’s gravity. Studying Venus could help astronomers better understand exoplanets that are extremely close to their stars.

NASA/SDO