This week in science

NASA opens Apollo Moon sample and more: Understand the world through 7 images

NASA

Heritage Images/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

NASA began unsealing a lunar sample sealed for 50 years the week of March 2–9, as researchers found promising leads for cancer treatments and gene therapy.

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

NASA/James Blair

March 9

Researchers created 3D X-ray images of the lungs of living mice without using artificial respiration that could harm the animals. The method allows scientists to image structures as small as 0.1 millimeters in diameter and could improve on current human lung imaging techniques.

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

6. New cancer treatment target

(c) Ariel Ruiz i Altaba

March 9

Scientists discovered cancerous cells that are nearly killed by certain cancer treatments can reprogram themselves to become metastatic cells, breaking away from the main tumor to form others. Understanding the cause of metastasis could lead to new treatments targeting these cells.

(c) Ariel Ruiz i Altaba

5. Predicting gene expression

Martin Krzywinski

March 9

Using hundreds of millions of genome measurements, scientists developed a method to accurately predict how changes to non-coding DNA will affect an organism’s gene expression. Trained on yeast, the model could be used to enhance industrial brewing and biotechnology, and could eventually be applied to human gene therapy.

Martin Krzywinski

4. A rosy discovery

© Yi-Kai Tea

March 8

For the first time, a Maldivian researcher described a new species of fish found off the coast of the Maldives. It’s called Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa, after the local Dhivehi word for rose, the Maldives’ national flower. The fish was once thought to belong to another previously discovered species, and setting the record straight is an important distinction for conservation efforts.

© Yi-Kai Tea

3. Gas from the past

NASA/James Blair

March 4

NASA scientists began piercing a container collected by Apollo astronauts on the Moon 50 years ago, part of a months-long opening process. The vacuum-sealed container may contain gas that can be studied with modern equipment but not Apollo-era technology and could help prepare Artemis astronauts for what to expect from future samples.

NASA/James Blair

2. Ancient armored ancestors

Banana Art Studio

March 3

Researchers uncovered the oldest stegosaur ever found in Asia, and one of the oldest found anywhere in the world. Dated to around 168 million years old, Bashanosaurus primitivus has similarities with much older armored dinosaurs that set it apart from other known stegosaurs. It lends credence to the idea that stegosaurs may have originated in Asia.

Banana Art Studio

March 2

Using mathematical models, engineers studied fire ants to learn how they form floating rafts to survive after storms. They found that lots of movement led to the formation of long protrusions that may be used to feel for solid ground. Understanding these mechanics could help in the development of swarming robots.

Vernerey Researcher Group at CU Boulder