Stingless bees, red sprites and Jupiter in stunning detail | The best images in science this week


This week, NASA prepares to launch Artemis I into orbit. This is the first uncrewed test mission of the new space launch system, and will hopefully pave the way for a Moon visit by 2025. The hope is that future missions might even land people on Mars.

A continuing theme this week has been the many droughts recorded around the world. Rivers have dried up in China and North America, as well as much of Europe and the UK.

Meanwhile, the James Webb Space Telescope has found definitive evidence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a gas giant planet orbiting a Sun-like star 700 light-years away. This amazing discovery is another demonstration of the power of this new telescope.

Red sky at night

Red sprites above the Atacama desert

This image, released on 22 August 2022, shows bright red streaks known as ‘red sprites’ above the Atacama desert in Chile. These sprites are an elusive form of lightning that occur high up in Earth’s atmosphere, much higher than regular lightning. Red sprites are also cooler in temperature than the white lightning we usually see, and appear much fainter. Red sprites are very difficult to catch: the first photographic evidence for them was only taken in 1989. This photograph was taken at the platform of ESO’s 3.6m telescope at La Silla. Photo by Zdenek Bardon/ESO

Mammoth delivery

Endangered Asian elephant calf

This endangered baby Asian elephant was born on 22 August 2022, at Whipsnade Zoo, United Kingdom. The not-so-tiny infant was born to mum Donna in the early hours of the morning, surrounded by the rest of the females in the herd. These elephants provided reassurance and support with gentle trunk nudges and murmurs to 13-year-old Donna as she delivered her calf. Photo by Zoological Society of London

Jupiter in all of its glory

This NIRCam composite image taken by the James Webb Space Telescope shows the great storms and auroras on Jupiter in amazing detail. Photo by NASA/ESA/CSA/Jupiter ERS Team/Judy Schmidt

Drone on

Delivery drone carrying human tissue trial

This drone made a test flight in Antwerp, Belgium, on 23 August 2022, transporting human tissue from one hospital to another for analysis. It was the first delivery of its kind in Europe and could save valuable time during surgery. Photo by Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Broad church

Church spire visible after drought

This photograph taken on 23 August 2022 shows a general view of the swamp of Sau and the ruins of the church of Sant Romà de Sau, located in the province of Girona in Catalonia, Spain. The swamp of Sau is a reservoir on the Ter river, created by a dam located in the municipality of Vilanova de Sau. The marsh, built from 1947 to 1962, covered the village of Sant Romà de Sau. The church is the world’s oldest one that has survived underwater. Photo by Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Fossil friends

Lesothosaurus skull

A fossilised skull of a dinosaur known as Lesothosaurus is shown in this image released on 24 August 2022. A new study of their fossils by the Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom, suggests that Lesothosaurus lived in herds which roamed southern Africa, providing some of the earliest evidence of social living in these dinosaurs. Photo by Trustees of the Natural History Museum

More images from Science Focus:

Train of thought

Hydrogen powered train

A train powered entirely by hydrogen is pictured in Bremervoerde, Germany, on 24 August 2022. A fleet of 14 trains provided by French industrial giant Alstom to the German state Lower Saxony, has replaced diesel locomotives between the cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude near Hamburg. Photo by Carmen Jaspersen/AFP/Getty Images

Street fighting

Gamers playing a retro computer game

Visitors play a game at the Retro Area during the press day at the 2022 Gamescom gaming trade fair at Messe, Cologne, Germany, on 24 August 2022. Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Lettuce through your door

KFC delivery drone China

An autonomous KFC food vending vehicle drives along a street in Beijing, China, on 25 August 2022. Photo by Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

No sting in the tail

Stingless bees are seen in their hive

Stingless bees are seen in their hive at an apiary in Blang Bintang, Indonesia’s Aceh province on 25 August 2022. As their name suggests, stingless bees cannot use their smaller stings for defence, but some species do have a powerful bite. Photo by Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images

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