The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), from NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canada (CSA), is the star of the top ten 2022, drawn up by Science magazine for the most important scientific results of the year.
After a development that lasted 20 years, a cost of 10 billion dollars and a journey of 1.5 million kilometers in space, Jwst has in fact finally opened its infrared 'eyes', immediately offering images of the universe with a unprecedented detail.
Artist's impression of the James Webb Space Telescope (source: Adriana Manrique Gutierrez, NASA Animator)
His observations have already made it possible to discover thousands of galaxies more distant and ancient than any other so far documented, some even 150 million years older than those identified by his predecessor Hubble.
Furthermore, Webb is already demonstrating that he can capture such detailed images of exoplanets hundreds of light-years from Earth that they reveal what they are made of, and therefore their ability to host life.
The Pillars of Creation photographed by the Miri instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope (source: NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI)
The ranking sees Webb in good company.
Among the other selected studies, in fact, there is NASA's Dart mission, the first planetary defense test, which in September successfully crashed against the asteroid Dimorphos, diverting its trajectory.
Simulation of the jet of dust produced by the impact of the Dart probe on the asteroid Dimorphos (source: ESA)
There is also the reconstruction of an entire ecosystem of 2 million years ago, thanks to the oldest DNA ever discovered preserved within tiny fragments of clay and quartz.
Reconstruction, based on DNA, of the ecosystem that existed 2 million years ago in the northernmost part of Greenland (source: Beth Zaikenjpg)
The discovery of the giant bacterium Thiomargarita magnifica, 5 thousand times larger than the average and visible to the naked eye, the development of a variety of perennial rice, which can be planted only once every 5 years, saving work, seeds and fertilizers, and the discovery of new clues on how the Black Death altered the genetic heritage of European populations, favoring the spread of genes that control the immune system but leaving us more susceptible to autoimmune diseases.
Finally, the top ten is completed by the progress made with the vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), one of the main causes of hospitalization for infants and young children, the approval in the United States of a climate law (Inflation Reduction Act) which aims to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030, the rapid development in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the identification of the virus that can cause multiple sclerosis.