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Volume 616 Issue 7957, 20 April 2023

Crash course

Although currently there is no known threat to Earth from asteroids, strategies to protect the planet from a collision are being explored. On 26 September 2022, NASA and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory successfully tested one such approach: the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft was deliberately crashed into Dimorphos, a moon orbiting the small asteroid Didymos, resulting in a change in the moon’s orbit. In this week’s issue, five papers explore the test and the effects of the collision. One paper reconstructs the impact; a second looks at the change to Dimorphos’s orbit caused by the impact. A third paper reports observations from the Hubble Space Telescope of the material ejected during the collision. A fourth paper uses modelling to characterize the transfer of momentum that resulted from the impact. And the final paper reports on citizen science observations before, during and after the collision.

Cover image: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Jon Emmerich

This Week

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News in Focus

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Books & Arts

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  • News & Views

    • Assessing the genetic and cellular changes that underlie human lung cancer as it evolves could aid the development of treatments. The TRACERx project reports data from studies tracking the disease.

      • Tikvah K. Hayes
      • Matthew Meyerson
      News & Views
    • The ability to separate the radioactive element americium from spent nuclear fuel would lower the long-term hazards of nuclear waste. An inorganic molecular cage that selectively binds to americium opens up a separation strategy.

      • May Nyman
      • Gauthier Deblonde
      News & Views
    • Genome sequencing, combined with methods for deducing how genomic regions interact, have now provided insight into how the wings that give skates and rays their characteristic shapes evolved more than 200 million years ago.

      • Chris Amemiya
      News & Views
    • A protein from Epstein–Barr virus called EBNA1 has been shown to bind to and break human chromosome 11, producing instability in the genome that might cause a predisposition to cancer.

      • Lori Frappier
      News & Views
  • Articles

    • The impact of the DART spacecraft on the asteroid Dimorphos is reported and reconstructed, demonstrating that kinetic impactor technology is a viable technique to potentially defend Earth from asteroids.

      • R. Terik Daly
      • Carolyn M. Ernst
      • Yun Zhang
      Article Open Access
    • The 33 minute change in the orbital period of Dimorphos after the DART kinetic impact suggests that ejecta contributed a substantial amount of momentum to the asteroid compared with the DART spacecraft alone.

      • Cristina A. Thomas
      • Shantanu P. Naidu
      • Harrison F. Agrusa
      Article Open Access
    • Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope reveal a complex evolution of the ejecta produced by the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft impacting Dimorphos.

      • Jian-Yang Li
      • Masatoshi Hirabayashi
      • Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez
      Article Open Access
    • By using millikelvin scanning tunnelling microscopy to study atomically flat terraces on U-terminated surfaces of the heavy-fermion superconductor URu2Si2, the two-dimensional heavy fermions are shown to form quantum-well states on the surface.

      • Edwin Herrera
      • Isabel Guillamón
      • Hermann Suderow
      Article Open Access
    • A two-dimensional field-effect transistor made of indium selenide is shown to outperform state-of-the-art silicon-based transistors, operating at lower supply voltage and achieving record high transconductance and ballistic ratio.

      • Jianfeng Jiang
      • Lin Xu
      • Lian-Mao Peng
    • Methane can be oxidized to methanol using N-heterocyclic carbene-ligated FeII complexes, in which the hydrophobic cavity captures the methane substrate from an aqueous solution and releases the hydrophilic methanol product back into the solution.

      • Hiroto Fujisaki
      • Tomoya Ishizuka
      • Takahiko Kojima
    • A new strategy to separate radioactive americium from lanthanides based on complexation with polyoxometalates and ultrafiltration technique is highly efficient and rapid, does not involve any organic components and requires minimal energy input.

      • Hailong Zhang
      • Ao Li
      • Shuao Wang
      Article Open Access
    • A depolymerization method is described that uses electrified spatiotemporal heating to selectively generate monomers from the commodity plastics polypropylene and poly(ethylene terephthalate), allowing control over the pyrolysis of plastic waste and reducing the formation of side products.

      • Qi Dong
      • Aditya Dilip Lele
      • Liangbing Hu
    • Analyses of multiregional tumour samples from 421 patients with non-small cell lung cancer prospectively enrolled to the TRACERx study reveal determinants of tumour evolution and relationships between intratumour heterogeneity and clinical outcome.

      • Alexander M. Frankell
      • Michelle Dietzen
      • Charles Swanton


      Article Open Access
    • A longitudinal evolutionary analysis of 126 lung cancer patients with metastatic disease reveals the timing of metastatic divergence, modes of dissemination and the genomic events subject to selection during the metastatic transition.

      • Maise Al Bakir
      • Ariana Huebner
      • Charles Swanton


      Article Open Access
    • Computational and machine-learning approaches that integrate genomic and transcriptomic variation from paired primary and metastatic non-small cell lung cancer samples from the TRACERx cohort reveal the role of transcriptional events in tumour evolution.

      • Carlos Martínez-Ruiz
      • James R. M. Black
      • Nicholas McGranahan


      Article Open Access
    • The authors report the cryogenic electron microscopy structures of human GSDMB in complex with Shigella IpaH7.8 and the GSDMB pore, shedding light on the molecular mechanisms of Shigella IpaH7.8 recognition and targeting of GSDMs and GSDMB pore formation.

      • Chengliang Wang
      • Sonia Shivcharan
      • Jianbin Ruan
      Article Open Access
    • A structure–function analysis of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator shows its two nucleotide-binding domains dimerize before channel opening, and reveals a mechanism through which conformational changes in the channel regulate chloride conductance.

      • Jesper Levring
      • Daniel S. Terry
      • Jue Chen
      Article Open Access
  • Matters Arising

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Focal Point

  • One of the most abundant base materials for bioplastics is cellulose, which is responsible for the structural rigidity of plant cell walls.

    Focal Point
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