This week in science

Zhurong rover footage and more: Understand the world through 9 images

CNSA

CNSA

The week of June 24–July 1, China’s Zhurong rover transmitted its first videos from Mars while scientists peered into human and insect brains back on Earth.

Here are the biggest science stories of the week, told in

9 astounding images.

Xianfeng Yang, Yunnan Key Laboratory for Palaeobiology, Yunnan University

9. Turning back the clock

© Inserm/Ruiz, Anne-Laure

July 1

Researchers discovered that astrocyte cells in the human brain are key to reducing brain plasticity as people age. The finding could help scientists develop ways to increase plasticity later in life to treat developmental disorders or brain lesions.

© Inserm/Ruiz, Anne-Laure

8. The last place you’d look

Qvarnström et al.

June 30

A previously unknown, 230-million-year-old beetle species was discovered in a fossilized dung sample (or coprolite). The finding suggests coprolite could house other new species older than what’s typically found in amber.

Qvarnström et al.

7. Homemade heart

Thisse lab at UVA

June 29

Using stem cells, University of Virginia scientists created the most sophisticated in vitro mouse embryo ever. The developing embryo has a beating heart and the start of a nervous system. The lab-grown mouse could be a step forward for artificial organs.

Thisse lab at UVA

6. Don’t believe your eyes

Michael Karlovich, Recursia LLC

June 29

A visual artist and a psychology researcher created a new kind of optical illusion called the Scintillating Starburst, which appears to have bright lines emanating from its center that aren’t really there. Studying illusions can help researchers understand visual processing.

Michael Karlovich, Recursia LLC

5. Sloshed in space

NASA

June 29

Astronomers at Keck Observatory revealed that comet Wirtanen had an unusually high concentration of alcohol and was generating heat for unknown reasons when it passed Earth two years ago. Their research could determine whether a space mission to study Wirtanen is warranted.

NASA

June 28

Researchers uncovered the mineral allabogdanite in the Dead Sea region. Allabogdanite had previously only been found in meteorites.

Mineralogical Society of America

June 28

Researchers identified 118 species of ancient vertebrates — including 17 new ones — in a fossil deposit in China. The deposit contained a high number of rare juvenile fossils from ancestors of modern-day insects and crustaceans.

Xianfeng Yang, Yunnan Key Laboratory for Palaeobiology, Yunnan University

June 28

Researchers created the first atlas of the buff-tailed bumblebee’s brain using micro-CT scans. The atlas will make it easier to study the bee’s brain, which is commonly used in research on learning and memory.

June 27

China’s Zhurong rover returned video and sound recordings from Mars. The videos show China’s first successful rover landing on Mars and maneuvering on the surface shortly afterward.

China National Space Administration
Turn sound on to hear Zhurong rolling onto the surface of Mars.

Read more science stories here.

CHRISTOPH BURGSTEDT/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library/Getty Images