Six Mysterious Objects Trail Chinese Spaceplane, Sunscreen Contaminants Found In Arctic Snow For First Time, And Much More This Week

All the biggest science news stories of the week.


Charlie Haigh


Charlie Haigh

Marketing Coordinator & Writer

Charlie is the Marketing Coordinator and Writer for IFLScience, she’s currently completing a undergraduate degree in Forensic Psychology.

Marketing Coordinator & Writer

Edited by Holly Large
Holly Large - Editorial Assistant

Holly Large

Jr Copy Editor & Staff Writer

Holly is a graduate medical biochemist with an enthusiasm for making science interesting, fun and accessible.

All the biggest science news stories of the week.

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Image credit: Edited by IFLScience

This week the first in-human trials began for a hormone-free male birth control pill, “impossible” worlds seem to be popping up everywhere, and some old fossils have just rewritten the story of human evolution. Finally, we take a look at some of the most peculiar animal news of 2023.

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Chinese Spaceplane Trailed By Six Mysterious Objects Transmitting Repeating Pattern

On December 14, China launched an experimental and reusable spaceplane into low Earth orbit, the spaceship's third trip into space. China is keeping quiet about the purpose of the spaceplane, however, four days into the mission amateur astronomer and satellite tracker Scott Tilley noticed that trailing behind the craft were six "mysterious wingmen", several of which appear to be emitting signals. Read the full story here


First In-Human Trial Begins For Hormone-Free Male Birth Control Pill

After successful preclinical studies in mice, researchers have this week begun the first human trials of a hormone-free male birth control pill. YCT-529, the drug being tested, is the first of its kind to reach Phase I clinical trials. Whilst scientists have been working away for decades in an attempt to create contraceptive options for sexually active men beyond condoms and vasectomies, those that have reached later clinical trial stages have been hormonal. Read the full story here

"Impossible" Worlds Are Popping Up Everywhere

In the last three decades, we went from not knowing if planets existed beyond the Solar System to finding so many that we now suspect almost every star has one. So far, over 5,000 planets have been confirmed. Astronomers have discovered some stuff that has truly challenged our understanding of what planets are like. Read the full story here

Contaminants From Sunscreen Found In Arctic Snow For First Time

As pure as the driven snow? Well, not so anymore, as a new study has shown that traces of sunscreen have been found in snow at the North Pole. In the last few decades, legacy contaminants have been turning up in Arctic environments. Through international efforts and regulations, these contaminants have decreased. However, now there is another category of chemicals: Chemicals of Emerging Arctic Concern (CEACs). Read the full story here

A New Look At Some Old Fossils Has Just Rewritten The Story Of Human Evolution

The great thing about science is that it’s constantly evolving. What was once common knowledge is now a (hopefully ironic) meme. It’s in this spirit, then, that a new study should be received – because it is, quite frankly, about to shake up the whole gosh-darn story of human evolution. And all it took was a second look at some old fossils. Read the full story here

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Feature of the week: 

Mystery Orbs, Tree-Dwelling Shrimp, And Moon-Worshiping Hammerhead Sharks: The Rich Tapestry Of 2023’s Animal News

2023 was a big year for bizarre animal news. You never know what’s going to turn up in the IFLScience daily pitch meeting, and 2023 delivered some doozies for zoological updates. Here are a few of our favorites from Earth’s most peculiar species, young and very, very old. Read the full story here 

More content:

Have you seen our free e-magazine, CURIOUS? Issue 17 December 2023 is out now. Check it out for exclusive interviews, book excerpts, long reads, and more.

PLUS, check out season 3 of IFLScience's The Big Questions Podcast, so far we've asked:


• Is Jurassic Park Possible?

• How Is Climate Change Affecting Polar Bear Populations?

• Why Is Space Junk Such A Big Deal?

• Can We Save A Species On The Very Brink Of Extinction?


• How Does A Quantum Computer Work And How Will They Change The World?

• What Is Space Weather And How Does It Affect Us?

• What Is Ancient Ice Telling Us About The Future?

• Are E-Fuels The Future Of Aviation?


• How Are Glaciers Changing In A Warming World?

• Are We Ready For The Next Massive Solar Flare?

• Would You Eat Plant-Based Meat For Christmas Dinner?


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