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Aeronautical and astronautical engineering

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Popular Science

In honor of Popular Science’s 150th year, reporter Bill Gourgey highlights Prof. Mark Drela and John Langford ’79, MA ’84, PhD ’87 for their work in crafting Perseus, a robotic data-gathering drone used to ply Earth’s polar vortex in July 1992.

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights new MIT robotics research, including a team of CSAIL researchers “working on a system that utilizes a robotic arm to help people get dressed.” Heater notes that the “issue is one of robotic vision — specifically finding a method to give the system a better view of the human arm it’s working to dress.”

Newsweek

NASA astronaut Raja Chari SM ’01 and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer performed a spacewalk to help maintain the crucial cooling systems aboard the International Space Station (ISS), reports Ed Browne for Newsweek. “Spacewalks are an important part of life on the space station,” writes Browne. “Also called an extravehicular activity (EVA), a spacewalk is when an astronaut or cosmonaut gets out of the ISS whilst wearing a pressurized and oxygenated space suit that protects them from the vacuum of space.”

Wired

Prof. Sara Seager has been awarded one of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) awards, which will help fund her project aimed at sending an orbiter that deploys an inflatable probe to Venus, as part of an effort to search for habitability or signs of life, reports Ramin Skibba for Wired. “This search for signs of life on Venus has been around for a long time, and now the stars are aligned to start taking it seriously,” says Seager.

The Economist

Prof. Julie Shah speaks with The Economist about her work developing systems to help robots operate safely and efficiently with humans. “Robots need to see us as more than just an obstacle to maneuver around,” says Shah. “They need to work with us and anticipate what we need.”

Bloomberg

Bloomberg reporter Ben Holland spotlights “The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines” – a new book written by Prof. David Autor, Prof. David Mindell and Elizabeth Reynolds PhD ’10 – about the future of job mobility and social safety nets in the United States.

NBC News

Prof. Sara Seager speaks with Tom Metcalfe of NBC News about the Venus Life Finder missions, which will carry a robotic space payload partially funded by MIT alumni to Venus to search for signs of life in the planet's atmosphere. “Space is becoming cheaper in general, and there is more access to space than ever before,” says Seager. 

Forbes

Prof. David Mindell writes for Forbes about the premise behind his new book, “The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in the Age of Intelligent Machine,” which he wrote with Prof. David Autor, and Elisabeth Reynolds, former director of MIT’s Industrial Performance Center. The new book “concerns demographic shifts in the United States that will generate consistent labor shortages for a generation; the continued profusion of information technology and mobile phones into legacy sectors such as logistics, construction, and transportation; technology-enabled remote work, conferencing, and training; and a long-term need for improved training, reeducation, and upskilling among low – and middle – skill workers,” writes Mindell.

New York Times

Prof. David Autor speaks with New York Times columnist Peter Coy about the new book he wrote with Prof. David Mindell and Elisabeth Reynolds, “The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines.” Autor explains that: “Most people’s fear of technology is really a fear of capitalism, what the markets will do with the technology. You can’t make a lot of progress if you’re making people poorer at the same time.”

Economist

The Economist highlights new work by MIT researchers investigating the impact of automation on the labor market. A study by graduate student Joonas Tuhkuri finds that at Finnish firms “adoption of advanced technologies led to increases in hiring.” Meanwhile a new book by Profs. David Autor, David Mindell and Elisabeth Reynolds concludes that “even if robots do not create widespread joblessness, they may have helped create an environment where the rewards are ‘skewed towards the top.’”

Forbes

Forbes reporter Christ Westfall spotlights “The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines,” a new book by Prof. David Autor, Prof. David Mindell and Research Scientist Elizabeth Reynolds that explores the future of work in America. “The US has allowed traditional channels of worker voice to atrophy without fostering new institutions or buttressing existing ones,” they write. “It has permitted the federal minimum wage to recede to near irrelevance.”

Forbes

MIT researchers have proposed a conceptual hovering rover that would use the moon’s static charge to stay airborne, reports Elizabeth Howell for Forbes. “We think a future [moon] mission could send out small hovering rovers to explore the surface of the moon and other asteroids,” says graduate student Oliver Jia-Richards.

Popular Science

MIT researchers have tested the concept for a hovering rover, a spacecraft that could use the moon’s electric field to levitate over its surface, reports Tatyana Woodall for Popular Science. Graduate student Oliver Jia-Richards explains that the team’s idea for a disc-like rover “potentially provides a much more precise and easier way of maneuvering on these rough terrain and low gravity environments.”

Forbes

Jin Stedge ’13 cofounded TrueNorth, a trucking company aimed at putting truckers in charge of their own companies, reports Igor Bosilkovski for Forbes. “We give truckers a single place to manage their whole business, and that’s everything from finding and booking loads, sending updates to customers, tracking applications, all in one place and charging one clean fee instead of ten different fees,” says Stedge.

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Nikita Amir writes that a new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds has identified a chemical pathway by which life could make a home for itself in Venus’ toxic clouds by producing ammonia. “Life on Venus, if it exists, is not like life on Earth,” says research affiliate Janusz Petkowski. “It’s life as we don’t know it. The only question is, to what degree it is different?”