It’s only April, but a lot has already happened in 2022. We wanted to take a break from the chaos of the world to reflect on the creativity of scientists and the wonder of the natural world… and what better way to do it than through awe-inspiring science images! Here is a small collection of some amazing images from the year so far.
- Snow in the Sahara
Surprisingly, snow is not unheard of in the Sahara Desert! This January, freezing temperatures overnight brought a dusting of snow and ice to parts of the Sahara in northwestern Algeria. It made for a striking image of a region that sees average daily temperatures of 37˚C in the summer, with highs of 47˚C. As a reminder, deserts are generally defined by an extremely low amount of precipitation and not by temperature – in fact, many regions in the Sahara see daily temperature swings of over 40˚C. This means that it is plenty cold enough for snow to form as long as there is enough moisture in the air.
2. Space selfie by the James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope, launched on December 25, 2021, is the most powerful telescope ever sent to space. The near-infrared telescope has been designed to detect objects up to 100 times fainter than the Hubble telescope, which will allow it to see even further back into the history of the universe. The sensors on the James Webb are sensitive enough to detect the heat of a single bumblebee on the surface of the moon! All of this is accomplished by focusing light off 18 hexagonal mirror segments onto the sensor instruments. Together, the interlocking mirrors form a surface 6.5 meters in diameter. This image, taken in February, shows the mirrors starting to align as the telescope orbits over 1.5 million miles from Earth.
3. Prehistoric sea monster found in the UK
The fossilized remains of an Ichthyosaur were recently discovered near a reservoir in Leicestershire, UK. This 10-meter-long fossil represents the largest Ichthyosaur discovered in the UK so far and is a remarkable paleontological discovery. Ichthyosaurs were warm-blooded predators that lived between 250 million and 90 million years ago. Although other fossiled remains have been discovered, this latest was discovered over 30 miles from the coast (in an area that was a shallow ocean 200 million years ago) and is the largest ever found in the UK.
4. Underwater feeding frenzy
Diver Rafael Fernandez Caballero captured this stunning image of 5 whale sharks feeding in the Maldives. Whale sharks feed on plankton that rise from the depths of the ocean at night, making dusk a fantastic time to see these enormous animals. Even then, framing a photo to include 5 at a time is a once-in-a-lifetime snapshot. Oh, and before you worry, whale sharks are generally harmless to humans, but like any wild animals divers should always maintain a safe distance (accidents do happen).
5. Location of the Endurance wreck
One hundred years after the death of Sir Ernest Shackleton the final resting place of his ship, Endurance. Shackleton was attempting to achieve the first land crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea in 1915. Tragically, the ship became trapped in pack ice, eventually forcing the crew to abandon ship. The crew would spend months on the ice before reaching Elephant Island, followed by another open-ocean journey to reach help in South Georgia. The wreck of the Endurance was discovered 4 miles from the expected location at a depth of 3008 meters. Due to its historical significance, the wreck will be filmed but not disturbed.