This week in science

Perseverance’s first year on Mars and more: Understand the world through 7 images


Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

NASA’s Perseverance rover reached its first anniversary on Mars the week of February 17–23, as advances in robotics and stem cell therapy pointed to new frontiers in medicine.

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

7. Cosmic collision

Francesco de Gasperin, SARAO
February 23

Astronomers captured the most detailed images ever of shock waves resulting from the collision of galaxy clusters. These collisions are the most energetic events in our universe since the Big Bang, and the shockwaves they produce are larger than the enter Milky Way galaxy.

Francesco de Gasperin, SARAO

6. Overcoming resistance

Nikol Kadeřábková
February 22

Researchers found a way to inhibit DsbA, a protein that causes antibiotic resistance, in bacteria such as E. coli. The trial process involves a chemical that can’t be used in humans, but the finding points to a potential method of treating antibiotic-resistant infections.

Nikol Kadeřábková

5. Building better bones

RMIT University
February 22

Researchers used high-frequency sound waves to turn stem cells into bone cells. The new method is faster and less painful than similar existing procedures without the need for additional drugs.

RMIT University
February 22

Scientists recorded an EEG of an 87-year-old’s man brain in the moments before and after his death. The first-ever scan of a dying brain showed brain waves associated with memory recall, suggesting that the idea of “life flashing before your eyes” as reported in near-death experiences may happen in a person’s final moments.


3. Reaching farther for telemedicine

Y. Liu, et al. / DOI number: 10.1126/sciadv.abl6700
February 21

Researchers created a human-machine interface that can translate a user’s complex movements into a robotic hand via Bluetooth, local WiFi, or the internet. It could make robots a more viable option for providing healthcare to people with Covid-19 or other infectious diseases.

City University of Hong Kong

2. Happy Marsiversary

February 18

NASA celebrated the Perseverance rover’s first year on Mars, just days after it broke the record for the farthest distance driven by a Mars rover in one day (1,050 feet). Perseverance is preparing to move west of its landing site to a delta that may contain traces of organic matter or biosignatures.

February 17

Using bioengineered glowing bacteria, researchers determined that the structure of kitchen sponges makes them great microbe incubators, since they allow bacteria to live in isolation or mix with other species. The finding could help develop better environments for industrially produced microbes such as those used in pollution cleanup.

Andrea Weiss, Zach Holmes and Yuanchi Ha, Duke University

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