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China has successfully launched a twin-satellite mission to investigate the most-energetic events in the cosmos. The National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences launched its Gravitational Wave High-energy Electromagnetic Counterpart All-sky Monitor (GECAM) earlier today. GECAM’s two small satellites have taken up identical orbits on opposite sides of Earth. From there, they can watch the whole sky for fast-radio bursts, high-energy neutrinos and magnetars.
Features & opinion
Science at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico came to an end last week when the instrument platform fell 137 metres and crashed onto the reflector dish below. But the world’s second-largest telescope leaves behind a proud legacy. Three scientists reflect on some of the key advances the telescope made possible since it was built in 1963. These include the first high-resolution radar images of Venus, the first discovery of a fast radio burst and countless insights into pulsars. Because of its size, Arecibo also detected faint traces of hydrogen in distant galaxies, which contributed to scientists’ understanding of how they form.
Read more: Gut-wrenching drone footage shows the moment of Arecibo’s collapse (Nature | 4 min read)
Living things depend on water, but it breaks down DNA and other key molecules. So how did the earliest cells deal with the water paradox? The Nature Podcast looks at evidence that life arose on land environments, in places that were alternately wet and dry. Plus, the Hayabusa2 mission successfully delivers a small cargo of asteroid material to Earth, and a team in China claims to have made the first definitive demonstration of computational ‘quantum advantage’.
Read more: How the first life on Earth survived its biggest threat — water (Nature | 14 min read)
Books & culture
Author Stewart C. Baker ponders the imperfect, transient nature of life in Five things I hate about Phobos, the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series. A playful cynicism propels this tale of friendship, unearthly beauty and the acceptance of how things are.
Andrew Robinson and Sara Abdulla’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes how borders make us ill, decolonizing museums and the wolves of Yellowstone.
Where I work
Working on an ocean research vessel means John Fulmer is one of the first to see intriguing discoveries. On the ship, science never sleeps, says Fulmer. “I work 12-hour shifts every day for 6-month stretches, with no days off, and I’m on call all the time. I’m just starting six months on leave, but sometimes I’ll tune in to the dives. It’s exciting stuff.” (Nature | 3 min read)