May 14, 2020 - Science

This photo is a shadow on an asteroid

Miriam Kramer, author of Space

Photo: JAXA/U. Tokyo/Kochi U./Rikkyo U./Nagoya U./Chiba Inst. Tech./Meiji U./U. Aizu/AIST

Asteroids are thought to be leftovers from the dawn of our solar system, the debris that didn't get incorporated into the planets as they formed billions of years ago.

Driving the news: A new photo taken by the Hayabusa-2 spacecraft shows what the robotic explorer saw as it descended to the surface of the asteroid Ryugu to collect a sample from the ancient object. That little piece of the asteroid is expected to make it back to Earth by December.

Go deeper: NASA picks a sample site for asteroid mission

Go deeper

Trump's troubles grow, spread

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump is confronting the most dire political environment of his presidency, with his support dropping fast from Texas to Wisconsin, even among his base of religious and older voters. 

Why it matters: Top Republicans tell me that Trump's handling of the nation's civil unrest, including his hasty photo op at St. John's Church after the violent clearing of Lafayette Park, make them much more worried about his chance of re-election than they were one week ago.

Social media takes on world leaders

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Social media companies are finally beginning to take action on posts from world leaders that violate their policies, after years of letting them mostly say whatever they wanted unfiltered to millions of people.

Why it matters: Government officials are among the users most likely to abuse the wide reach and minimal regulation of tech platforms. Mounting pressure to stop harmful content from spreading amid the coronavirus pandemic, racial protests and a looming U.S. election has spurred some companies to finally do something about it.

Coronavirus cases spike in Texas and Arizona

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise, Naema Ahmed/Axios

Texas, Arizona and Oregon saw significant spikes last week in new coronavirus infections, while cases also continued to climb in a handful of states where steady increases have become the norm.

Why it matters: Nationwide, new cases have plateaued over the past week. To get through this crisis and safely continue getting back out into the world, we need them to go down — a lot.