National Academy of Sciences

Science • Animals
Study: low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects
Study: low doses of the insecticide, Imidacloprid, cause blindness in insects
Credit: unsplash.com / Damien TUPINIER

New research has identified a mechanism by which low levels of insecticides such as, the neonicotinoid Imidacloprid, could harm the nervous, metabolic and immune system of insects, including those that are not pests, such as our leading pollinators, bees. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, led by researchers at the University of Melbourne and Baylor College of Medicine, shows that low doses of Imidacloprid trigger neurodegeneration and disrupt vital body-wide functions, including energy production, vision, movement and the immune system, in the vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster. "That's an indication of the impact of the insecticide on the function of the brain," said Dr Felipe Martelli, whose PhD work conducted at the University of Melbourne and the Baylor College of Medicine in the laboratory of Professor Hugo Bellen led to the current research paper.

Science • Space
NASA's JWST launch postponed due to COVID-19
Ball Aerospace lead optical test engineer Dave Chaney inspects six primary mirror segments, critical elements of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, prior to cryogenic testing in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala
Ball Aerospace lead optical test engineer Dave Chaney inspects six primary mirror segments, critical elements of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, prior to cryogenic testing in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on yet another industry. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was supposed to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope with improved infrared resolution and a broader range of astronomical and cosmological investigation in March 2021, but due to the ramifications of COVID-19, the launch was postponed. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, told the Space Studies Board of National Academies that the pandemic had slowed down the work on the spacecraft, making the March 2021 launch date impossible. A new launch date has yet to be announced.