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Chinese spacecraft, Chang’e-5, will depart later this month on a mission to gather rocks from the Moon. If successful, it will be the first material collected from the Moon since the US and Soviet missions in the 1960s and 1970s. The rocks will be retrieved from a previously unexplored region of the Moon’s near side, which researchers will use to study the celestial body’s evolution. Scientists say the mission will be technically challenging, but good practice for China’s space agency, which plans to send people to the Moon around 2030.
As the US election drags on, so does the construction of the 9-metre-high wall made of steel and concrete that the country is constructing along its southern border. Among the nature reserves that have been bisected by the heavily reinforced wall is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, in Arizona. Conservationists’ concerns include that the wall blocks hunting and migration routes, has disruptive 24-hour lighting and has tapped uncounted litres of precious desert water to make cement. If completed as planned, a complete border wall could “alter the evolutionary history of North America forever”, says conservation scientist Myles Traphagen.
Two thousand years ago, the Maya built the oldest known zeolite water-filtration system in their city Tikal, in what is now Guatemala. Anthropologists have discovered that the Maya filtered reservoir water through a mixture of zeolite — a volcanic rock with a high silicon content used for many similar applications today — and coarse quartz sand. “A lot of people look at Native Americans in the Western Hemisphere as not having the same engineering or technological muscle of places like Greece, Rome, India or China,” says Tankersley. “But when it comes to water management, the Maya were millennia ahead.”
The evidence is building that hyper-magnetized stars called magnetars are the source of at least some fast radio bursts (FRBs) — powerful cosmic flashes that flare for just milliseconds. The origin of FRBs is one of astronomy’s biggest puzzles. Simultaneous observations from radio telescopes in Canada, the United States and China spotted an FRB coming from a magnetar called SGR 1935+2154 in our own galaxy. Other FRBs have been tracked back to their host galaxies, but the source of an FRB hasn’t been pinpointed before.
Features & opinion
Junior researchers need to engage with policymakers, institutions, funders and media outlets to argue against planned budget cut-backs, argue Brian Cahill at advocacy group EuroScience and Marco Masia at the Initiative for Science in Europe. “It is time for early-career researchers to look ahead and beyond the laboratory bench” to build political weight, they write.
For 13 years, evolutionary ecologist Anne Charmantier kept her chronic health condition private. “For many years, it was important for me to know that my weaknesses could not be seen,” she writes. But a leadership programme in Antarctica changed her perspective. “It has made me realize that I could promote a workplace environment that’s supportive of my illness, rather than one in which I have to hide a part of myself.”