A version of this story appeared in the CNN science newsletter Theory of Wonder. to get it in your inbox, Sign up for free here.
Some of our favorite space missions round out the year on a high note.
Artemis I literally gushed (down) when it successfully returned to Earth on December 11th. 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 results from September’s double asteroid redirection test are in. Everyone can now see the indelible mark DART left on the asteroid Dimorphos.
And the James Webb Space Telescope captured a new image that includes a dazzling group of galaxies that have never been seen before.
Meanwhile, the Perseverance rover is preparing for its next big step on Mars—and we can’t wait to follow where it wandered.
Perseverance does not allow any dust to gather under its wheels. The rover is about to build its first repository on another world as it drops a collection of rock and dust samples onto the surface of Mars.
These samples are part of a matching set that will still be stored in the rover – and the cache could be the set that makes its way back to Earth in 2033 through the Mars Sample Return Program.
The rover is also planning a course on the steep bank of an ancient river delta and will begin studying interesting material there in February.
While Perseverance was investigating Jezero Crater on Mars in 2021, a towering whirlwind of dust passed directly above it. The rover’s microphone happened to be on at the time, and the robotic explorer captured the eerie sounds in an audio recording released this week.
Wild chimpanzees in Tanzania have provided researchers with new insights into our ability to walk upright. Bipedalism may have begun in trees.
Previous studies have suggested that ancient human relatives evolved to walk on two legs because they lived in the open savanna — but recent research contradicts that popular theory.
Scientists have spent more than a year observing adult chimpanzees in an environment similar to what our early human ancestors encountered – a mixture of open land and dense forests. Often, chimpanzees would walk upright among the trees.
The study doesn’t draw a direct comparison between chimpanzees and our early ancestors, but it indicated that scientists need to take a deeper look at the anatomy of ancient humans and how they moved.
Marine archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved medieval shipwreck resting at the bottom of Mjøsa, Norway’s largest lake.
Researchers believe the ship, with its unique stem columns and overlapping planks, dates from between the 13th and 18th centuries. The ship was discovered during a sonar survey, which was used to locate dropped ordnance.
The lake’s freshwater environment caused the ship to appear frozen over time, save for some wear on her iron nails. It is possible that the gull-built ship sank during bad weather.
The researchers plan to take more snapshots of the wrecks next year and hope to find more wrecks during the ongoing survey.
How many bags do you own?
My colleague Katie Hunt recently asked this question, and many of us were surprised to discover how many reusable bags we stock in our homes and vehicles.
Reusable bags are preferable to single-use plastic bags, but piles of reusable bags present their own problems. Being aware of how you use your bags, as well as what you put in them, can offset these unintended consequences.
And it’s not just humans who can do their bit for the environment. New research has indicated that whales play an important but often overlooked role in tackling the climate crisis.
For ideas on how to reduce your role in the climate crisis and reduce your environmental anxiety, sign up for CNN’s Life, But Greener limited newsletter series.
Portraits of a sassy penguin, a smiling fish and a falling lion cub are the winners of the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards.
The photos are great for laughs, but they also raise awareness about wildlife conservation and support the Whitley Nature Trust, a UK-based charity.
Meanwhile, scientists have discovered that female snakes have a clitoris. The researchers said this overlooked aspect of their anatomy could serve multiple purposes for snakes — and the findings suggest that female animals likely have a more active role in mating than they are given credit for.
Keep going with these new discoveries:
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.
– Were dinosaurs capable of making sonic booms when they hit their long tails? The researchers finally settled the dispute with an unexpected discovery.
Jupiter’s moon Io, the most volcanic place in the solar system, is about to become the main focus of NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
Wonder Theory will be on hiatus next Saturday as the team enjoys the holidays, but we’ll be back with a special New Year’s Eve issue!
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