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Several upcoming Moon missions will explore, for the first time, its poles. Some scientists are keen to ensure that the ice there is explored without being contaminated, because it holds possible clues to the early history of the Moon and Earth. Others want to mine the ice as fuel for rockets at future lunar bases. “Right now, we’ve got some scientists saying we can’t go anywhere near it because we’re going to ruin it,” says geoscientist Clive Neal. “And others say we need it, so we’re just going to go for it.”
Nature | 8 min read
Researchers were relieved over the news that the United Kingdom and the European Union had reached a last-minute trade deal on 24 December — ending more than four years of uncertainty over their relationship after Brexit. The deal has wide-ranging impacts for scientists — most importantly, it means that UK researchers will take part in Europe’s €85-billion (US$106 billion) flagship research programme, Horizon Europe.
Nature | 7 min read
The fist-sized Jonah’s mouse lemur (Microcebus jonahi) and a mushroom (Cortinarius heatherae) unearthed near one of the world’s busiest airports are among the biological delights freshly described by science over the past year. There is even a newly identified primate species with lush fur and a penetrating gaze: Trachypithecus popa of Myanmar.
Features & opinion
An agreed system for measuring funding of green projects in poorer nations will be crucial to achieving action on climate change in 2021, argues a Nature editorial. The COP26 meeting — widely seen as the world’s last chance to take meaningful, unified action on climate change — is less than a year away. “There needs to be a meeting of minds so that all sides can be confident there is accuracy and accountability,” says United Nations climate finance adviser Selwin Hart.
Nature | 6 min read
Read more: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change urgently needs a definition of what constitutes climate finance, write international climate policy researchers Romain Weikmans, J. Timmons Roberts and Stacy-ann Robinson. (Nature | 2 min read, from December)
A disappointing marathon without spectators made immunologist Taylor Engdahl realize that she’d been relying on outside praise to keep her going during her PhD programme. But external plaudits were too rare during the pandemic to sustain her through the marathon of graduate school. After approaching burn-out, Engdahl shares how she looked inside to find what truly motivates her to do science.
Nature | 4 min read