The Perseverance rover is about to have a great first time on Mars
A version of this story appeared in CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. To receive it in your inbox, Sign up for free here.
Some of our favorite space missions are closing out the year with a bang.
Artemis I made a literal splash (below) when it successfully returned to Earth on December 11. Engineers are studying the data collected by the Orion spacecraft now to prepare for the first crewed flight of Artemis II in 2024.
Meanwhile, the latest images and findings from the September double asteroid redirection test. Now everyone can see the indelible mark that DART left on the Dimorphos asteroid.
And the James Webb Space Telescope captured a new image with a dazzling variety of galaxies never seen before.
Meanwhile, the Perseverance rover is gearing up for its next big step on Mars, and we can’t wait to follow where it roams.
Perseverance is not letting dust collect under your wheels. the rover is about to build the first depot in another world while dropping a collection of rock and dust samples on the Martian surface.
These samples are part of a matching set that will remain stored on the rover, and any one of the caches could be the collection that returns to Earth in 2033 through the Mars Sample Return program.
The rover is also plotting a course up the steep bank of an ancient river delta and will begin studying the intriguing material there in February.
While Perseverance was investigating Jezero Crater on Mars in 2021, a massive dust whirlwind passed right over it. The rover’s microphone was on at the time, and the robotic explorer captured the creepy sounds on an audio recording released this week.
Wild chimpanzees in Tanzania have given researchers new insights into our ability to walk upright. Bipedalism may have started in trees.
Previous studies have suggested that ancient human relatives evolved to walk on two legs because they lived in open savannah, but newer research contradicts that popular theory.
The scientists spent more than a year observing adult chimpanzees in an environment similar to what our early human ancestors encountered: a mix of open land and dense forest. Most of the time, the chimpanzees walked upright among the trees.
The study does not make a direct comparison between chimpanzees and our earliest ancestors, but has suggested scientists need to dig deeper into the anatomy of ancient humans and how they moved.
Marine archaeologists have found a well-preserved medieval shipwreck resting at the bottom of Mjøsa, Norway’s largest lake.
Researchers believe the ship, with its unique bow posts and overlapping planks, dates to between the 1300s and 1800s. The ship was discovered during a sonar survey, which has been used to locate dropped munitions.
The the lake’s freshwater environment has caused the ship to appear frozen in time, apart from a little corrosion on its iron nails. The Nordic-built ship probably sank during bad weather.
The researchers plan to capture more images of the wreck next year and hope to find more shipwrecks during their ongoing study.
How many cloth bags do you have?
My colleague Katie Hunt posed this question recently, and many of us were surprised to discover how many reusable bags are hidden in our homes and vehicles.
Reusable bags are preferable to single-use plastic bags, but reusable bags pose their own problems. to be aware of how you use your bags, as well as what you put in themcan offset these unintended consequences.
And it’s not just humans who can do their part for the environment. New research has suggested whales play an important but often overlooked role in the fight against the climate crisis.
For ideas on how to minimize your role in the climate crisis and reduce your ecological anxiety, sign up for CNN’s Life, But Greener Limited Newsletter Series.
Images of a cheeky penguin, a smiling fish and a knocked down lion cub are some of the winners of the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
The photos are great for a laugh, but they also raise awareness for wildlife conservation and support the Whitley Fund for Nature, a UK-based charity.
Meanwhile, scientists have discovered that female snakes have clitorises. This overlooked aspect of their anatomy could serve multiple purposes for snakes, and the finding suggested that females probably play a much more active part in mating than they are credited for, the researchers said.
Dwell on these new revelations:
— Scientists achieved a milestone for the future of clean energy this week when they produced more energy from nuclear fusion than the laser energy used to power their experiment.
– They were dinosaurs capable of creating sonic booms when they whipped their long tails? Researchers have finally settled the debate with an unexpected finding.
— Io, the moon of Jupiter, the most volcanic place in the solar systemis about to become the main focus of NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
Wonder Theory will be going on hiatus next Saturday while the team enjoys the holidays, but we’ll be back with a special edition on New Year’s Eve!