This week in science

Webb Telescope alignment and more: Understand the world through 7 images

NASA

NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope completed its alignment phase the week of April 27–May 4, as the Ingenuity helicopter got a look at a familiar sight on Mars.

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

Keith Willmott

7. Where circulation starts

Laura Beth Payne/Virginia Tech

May 4

Scientists observed the earliest steps of circulatory system formation in an embryo, finding that multiple cell types start the process at once. It was previously thought that some joined the process later. The work could inform future vascular disease treatments.

Laura Beth Payne/Virginia Tech

May 3

Researchers developed a new method for spacecraft to navigate using X-ray signals from magnetically charged pulsars. The algorithm they developed would allow spacecraft to navigate themselves without the use of ground-based tracking systems.

NASA/CXC/University of Amsterdam/N.Rea et al/DSS

5. Older than we thought

Jorge Herrera Flores

May 3

Researchers found evidence that a diverse collection of squamates — the reptile group including lizards and snakes — evolved in the Jurassic Period, well before popular estimates. The findings could help explain prehistoric evolution and the extreme diversity of today’s squamates.

Jorge Herrera Flores

May 2

Researchers found photosynthesis isn’t required for algae and coral to form the symbiotic bond that keeps them both alive. Rising ocean temperatures can prevent symbiosis, leading to bleached coral, and the study could point to new ways to kickstart symbiosis after a bleaching event.

Robert Jinkerson/Tingting Xiang

3. Butterflies as a barometer

Keith Willmott

May 2

Entomologists partnered with park rangers in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park to track insect diversity. Yasuní National Park is a biodiversity hotspot, and local monitoring of butterflies can give a more accurate estimate of insect health than short-term studies by international scientists.

Keith Willmott

2. Alignment chart

NASA/STScI

April 28

The James Webb Space Telescope finished its telescope alignment phase, meaning all of its instruments are ready for final calibrations in the commissioning stage.

NASA/STScI

1. Where it all began

NASA/JPL-Caltech

April 27

NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter captured an image of Perseverance’s backshell, which protected the rover during its descent to Mars. The images could help engineers gauge how the backshell performed during landing.

NASA/JPL-Caltech