A volcano revealed, a lung x-rayed, a rocket launched: National Geographic editors selected these 23 fascinating images of science and technology in action.
Pitchfork in hand, Armando Salazar clambers across sizzling black rock, a precious hunk of lava held in his farm tool’s tines. Strange though the scene may be, it’s another day on the job for Salazar, a Spanish sergeant helping with the emergency response to the La Palma volcanic eruption. Thanks to Salazar and others, scientists are getting fresh samples of the volcano’s rock, which will help them understand the current eruption. (From “Dramatic photos show La Palma volcano’s ongoing eruption,” November 2021.)
Photograph by Arturo Rodríguez
Photos curated byEditors of National Geographic
Text byMichael Greshko
Published December 7, 2021
• 14 min read
When one of the volcanoes on La Palma in the Canary Islands began erupting in September, photographer Arturo Rodríguez heard the frantic news broadcasts while in the shower at his home on the neighboring island of Tenerife. He quickly booked a flight and arrived in La Palma a few hours later, where he has worked around the clock to document the volcano’s power and devastation. “I never dreamed about being so close to something like this,” he told National Geographic. “It’s so big, so powerful.”
Rodríguez’s remarkable photographs of this eruption are just some of 23 images selected by National Geographic’s photo editors as our favorite science and technology photos of 2021.
Meanwhile, engineers pushed the boundaries of launching people toward the heavens. On the coast of South Texas, SpaceX’s ambitious Starship rocket launched miles into the sky and then attempted to land upright as the company races to build the biggest rocket ever. And over the deserts of Texas and New Mexico, billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson briefly crossed the threshold of space in vehicles built by companies they had founded.
Photography has allowed us to see the effects of this disease around the world, and it has even proven a vital tool in the fight against the virus. Paul Tafforeau of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and his colleagues took groundbreaking x-ray scans of human organs this year, including ones that demystified the virus’s devastating effects on our airways.
From La Palma’s glowing lava to Mars’s dusty hillsides, these striking images showcase the power of photography to document, enlighten, and inspire.
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