This week in science

Lunar rover spots mystery cube and more: Understand the world through 8 images

Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

China’s Yutu 2 returned mysterious images from the Moon the week of December 1–8, while discoveries of footprints and fossils changed our understanding of the past.

Here are the week’s biggest science stories, told in 8 stunning images.

Maya Santangelo

8. Defying the odds

ESO

December 8

Researchers discovered a planet orbiting b Centauri, the hottest and most massive two-star system ever found. It was previously thought that planets couldn’t form around a B-type star, which makes up half the binary system.

ESO

7. A growing family tree

André Morandini/IB-USP

December 8

A study of the moon jellyfish Aurelia revealed that the genus has at least 28 species, rather than the seven previously known. Delineating these species helps scientists better understand how they’re affected by climate change.

André Morandini/IB-USP

December 6

Researchers concluded that ultra-diffuse dwarf galaxy AGC 114905 has no dark matter, after 40 hours of study with the Very Large Array telescope. The finding challenges the accepted notion that galaxies need dark matter to bind them together.

Javier Román & Pavel Mancera Piña

5. Antarctic eclipse

Maya Santangelo

December 4

A naturalist aboard a polar passenger vessel captured remarkable images of the December 4 solar eclipse from Antarctica. The next solar eclipse visible from North America won’t come around until October 14, 2023.

Maya Santangelo

4. Tread carefully

Thales Alenia Space

December 3

ESA demonstrated its ExoMars rover’s ability to maneuver through sand in the Earth-based Mars Terrain Simulator. The ExoMars rover moves its wheels in a unique walking motion to avoid getting stuck.

ESA/ATG medialab

3. “Mystery hut”

CNSA/Our Space

December 3

China’s Yutu 2 rover spotted an unidentified cube-shaped object on the Moon. It’s likely to be nothing more exciting than a boulder, but it will take Yutu 2 up to three months to reach the temporarily mysterious object.

CNSA/Our Space

December 2

Researchers uncovered the largest trove of dinosaur fossils ever found in Italy. The finding also pushed back the age of the previously discovered dig site from 70 million to 80 million years old.

P. Ferrieri (courtesy of Soprintendenza Archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio del Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

1. First steps

McNutt et. al/Nature

December 1

Scientists determined a set of footprints discovered in the 1970s likely belong to an unknown human ancestor. The 3.5-million-year-old prints show a mix of human and chimpanzee characteristics that don’t match any animal alive today.

McNutt et. al/Nature