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Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission has descended on an asteroid to collect material from inside. Earlier today, the spacecraft touched down on the asteroid Ryugu to take samples from a crater it gouged out in April by bombarding the body’s surface with a projectile. The mission will return any material it grabbed back to Earth next year, where it can be compared with a sample that the probe collected from the surface in February.
A 210,000-year-old skull seems to be the oldest Homo sapiens fossil ever found outside Africa by 30,000 years. It was discovered, along with another fossil skull nearby, in the Apidima cave in southern Greece in the 1970s, but has only now been analysed using modern techniques. The second skull is that of a Neanderthal, who lived more recently, potentially upending some theories about the order in which Neanderthals and modern humans came to Europe. “Our findings support multiple dispersals of early modern humans out of Africa,” say the researchers, and highlight just how complex the human story is.
FEATURES & OPINION
Aviator Wally Funk was the youngest of the Mercury 13 — a group of female pilots who did much of the same training as the Apollo 11 astronauts. She joins lunar researchers Sara Russell and Marissa Lo to rewatch the highlights of the Apollo 11 landing, reflecting on the missions’ huge importance to humanity and to science.
If we can send a person to the Moon, why can’t we sort out our problems on Earth? The ambitious ‘moonshot’ framework cannot be applied to issues such as cancer and the climate crisis until it is adapted to the messy and difficult challenges of life on the ground, argues a Nature editorial. Vested interests, profit-seeking companies and conflicts of interest all add hurdles that ‘earthshots’ must overcome to succeed.
Fireworks, wild swans and super-cannons were propelling people mentally Moonwards long before 1969. Science-fiction specialist David Seed explores how the Moon has sparked the imaginations of writers and scientists for centuries.
“We feel that we can be better scientists because of our challenges, not in spite of them,” write Gabi Serrato Marks and Skylar Bayer. They explore the benefits that come from people’s differences and outline how the scientific community can help disabled scientists at all levels.
Sometimes, getting your writing done is hard. If you can’t get a few hundred thousand people to motivate you every day like I do (thanks, Briefing readers!) here some top tips for getting that dissertation or manuscript down on paper from evolutionary biologist Katie Grogan. Let me know what works for you (I love a good Pomodoro myself) — plus any other feedback on this newsletter — at email@example.com.