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The Soyuz-2.1b rocket with the moon lander Luna 25 takes off from a launch pad at the Vostochny cosmodrome.

A Soyuz rocket launched Luna 25 to the Moon from Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia.Credit: ROSCOSMOS STATE SPACE CORPORATION/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Russia has launched an uncrewed spacecraft to the Moon’s south pole — its first lunar mission in 47 years. If successful, it would be the first landing in the region, which is expected to see a flurry of activity in coming years because it might contain sizable amounts of water ice. Luna 25 is scheduled to land on 21 August — but Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov described the mission as “high risk” and gave it a 70% chance of success.

Nature | 6 min read

Almost half of more than 200 large species of fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and cephalopods identified by researchers in China’s coastal habitats are on the international Red List of endangered or vulnerable animals. Yet 78% of them aren’t on China’s own Red List. Out of 50 large coastal animals that are considered very important for their ecosystems, only 17 are protected in the country. “You can see a lot of news about the giant panda and terrestrial biodiversity conservation, but you don’t see a lot of news about megafauna in coastal areas in China,” says ecologist and study co-author Qiang He.

Nature | 5 min read

Reference: Science Advances paper

ProMED, the e-mail alert system that has been key to reporting emerging outbreaks such as COVID-19 and Ebola, is in crisis. Staff members went on strike after the International Society for Infectious Diseases (ISID), which operates ProMED, introduced a paid subscription model without their knowledge. ISID also told ProMED moderators that their pay would be delayed by several months. Although ProMED continues to operate “in a limited capacity”, staff members are calling on ISID to share the system’s operation and financing with another entity and to ensure transparency and independent leadership.

Nature | 6 min read

People in Europe are as supportive of refugees now as they were seven years ago, found researchers who explored the effects of repeated humanitarian crises and possible biases towards Ukrainians over others. The data show that most people do not have the extreme negative views expressed by “the loudest voices” in the political arena, says public-policy researcher and co-author Dominik Hangartner. Respondents did favour certain demographics over others: in both 2016 and 2022, they were more likely to favour younger refugees over older ones, women over men, and Christians over agnostics and Muslims. Critics highlight that the findings deal with personal perceptions and might not reflect national attitudes or refugees’ own experiences.

Nature | 4 min read

Reference: Nature paper

Features & opinion

Table of Contents

The partially disassembled dish of the Arecibo Observatory seen from a visitor observation deck on August 9, 2023.

The jungle surrounding Arecibo is slowly claiming what’s left of the facility’s 305-metre-wide dish.Credit: Ángel Enrique Valentín for Nature

Moving photographs show the last days of the iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which is closing its doors today. After its main instrument collapsed nearly three years ago — captured in a gut-wrenching video — the site was supposed to pivot to science education. But concrete plans have yet to materialize, funding has run out and many worry that Arecibo will never again study the sky. The loss is a particular blow to science in Puerto Rico — which lacks a voting member in the US Congress, the ultimate holder of the facility’s purse strings.

Nature | 7 min read

An innovative microscope allows scientists to peek at the brain’s long-range neuronal circuitry without having to reconstruct it from individual brain slices. The technique removes lipids to make the tissue transparent before it is embedded in a material that expands when water is added. At the heart of the method is a type of lens that is usually used to identify pixel-sized defects in flat-panel displays. The prototype microscope’s resolution is comparable to that of high-resolution imaging using standard confocal microscopy. It’s also fast: it can image an entire mouse brain in less than a day.

Nature | 6 min read

Reference: bioRxiv preprint (not peer reviewed)

The experience of cobbling together sick leave and vacation days to gather sufficient parental leave awakened scientist-mothers Amanda Gorton and Tess Grainger to a data gap. “There was no easy way to look up and compare leave policies across academic institutions,” they write. Their database of policies at 30 Canadian and 146 US universities reveals that parental leave is thin on the ground — especially for graduate students.

Nature | 8 min read

(If you’re looking to find a new job that suits your life better, browse the listings on Nature Careers and set up alerts for the latest roles.)

Reference: Database of parental-leave policies at institutions across the United States and Canada

Less leave at US institutions. Bar charts showing amount of parental leave in weeks in US and Canada.

Source: Amanda J. Gorton & Tess Grainger

Quote of the day

Trailblazing mathematician and computer scientist Evelyn Boyd Granville says that Black role models helped to inspire her ground-breaking career in the US space programme, early IBM software development and senior roles in academia. Granville has died, aged 99. (Nature | 6 min read)

Last week, Leif Penguinson was exploring the Retezat National Park in Romania. Did you find the penguin? When you’re ready, here’s the answer.

It’s great to be back in your inbox following my break. Thank you to everyone who sent jet-lag tips — although nothing beats writing a Briefing to fend off the snoozes. My favourite suggestion has to be from reader Ian Sutherland, who wisely recommends to “fly only Concorde”. His description of “a wonderful lunch reading the FT, a decent cigar and a brandy” on the hop over the pond certainly has appeal. I hope to make my next international trip on a method that also evokes bygone days — but still exists: the great European night train.

Help perk up my day by sending me your feedback on this newsletter. Your e-mails are always welcome at

Thanks for reading,

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by Katrina Krämer

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