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Aeronautical and astronautical engineering

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The Hill

A new study by MIT researchers finds that “the energy required to run computers in a future global fleet of autonomous vehicles could produce as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers in the world,” reports Sharon Udasin for The Hill. The researchers found that “1 billion such cars, each driving for an hour daily, would use enough energy to generate the same amount of emissions that data centers do today.”

Wired

Prof. Zachary Cordero and his team are working to develop an in-space manufacturing technique to design a satellite reflector that can monitor storms and precipitation through moisture changes in the atmosphere, reports Ramin Skibba for Wired. “It involves bending a single strand of wire at specific nodes and angles, then adding joints to make a stiff structure,” writes Skibba.

The New York Times

Prof. Steven Barrett speaks with New York Times reporter Paige McClanahan about the pressing need to make air travel more sustainable and his research exploring the impact of contrails on the planet’s temperature. “Eliminating contrails is quite a big lever on mitigating the climate impact of aviation,” said Barrett.

Politico

Politico reporter Derek Robertson writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds the computing power required to replace the world’s auto fleet with AVs would produce about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers currently operating. Robertson writes that the researchers view the experiment “as an important step in getting auto- and policymakers to pay closer attention to the unexpected ways in which the carbon footprint for new tech can increase.”

BBC News

Graduate student Soumya Sudhakar speaks with BBC Digital Planet host Gareth Mitchell about her new study showing that hardware efficiency for self-driving cars will need to advance rapidly to avoid generating as many greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers in the world.

Popular Science

Using statistical modeling, MIT researchers have found that the energy needed to power a fleet of fully autonomous EVs could generate as much carbon emissions as all the world’s data centers combined, reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science.

The Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Pranshu Verma writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds the “future energy required to run just the computers on a global fleet of autonomous vehicles could generate as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers in the world today.” 

Gizmodo

Research Scientist Mary Knapp’s proposal for a Great Observatory for Long Wavelengths (GO-LoW), a space-based observatory consisting of thousands of satellites that could study the magnetic fields of distant and rocky exoplanets, has been selected for NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts programs, writes George Dvorsky for Gizmodo.

The Washington Post

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station completed an experiment to test a system developed by researchers from MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative that would allow astronauts to build parts in space, reports Pranshu Verma for The Washington Post. The new system could allow astronauts to build and modify space stations “quicker, cheaper and with less complexity,” explains Ariel Ekblaw, director and founder of the Space Exploration Initiative. “It starts to unlock more opportunities for exploration.”

Popular Science

MIT researchers developed a new system to build gravity-defying spare parts in space that is currently being tested aboard the International Space Station, reports Rahul Rao for Popular Science. “The MIT group’s process involves taking a flexible silicone skin, shaped like the part it will eventually create, and filling it with a liquid resin,” writes Rao. “These are going to be our first results for a really novel process in microgravity,” explains Ariel Ekblaw SM ’17, PhD ’20, director of the Space Exploration Initiative.

Scientific American

Prof. Paulo Lozano speaks with Scientific American reporter Nadia Drake about the CubeSats NASA tested during the Artemis I mission. “There are not that many opportunities to actually go to deep space with CubeSats, so having more of those opportunities available—I think it’s a great thing for little satellites,” Lozano says. “I think there’s going to be a lot of things to be learned about how to design these spacecraft so that, in the future, we can design little spacecraft that can accomplish what big spacecraft can achieve.”

Bloomberg

Prof. Danielle Wood speaks with Bloomberg about the future of space technology and sustainability. Wood explains that she and her team are focused on developing a “space sustainability rating, which is a method to incentivize organizations to actually do what they can to reduce space debris now in Earth’s orbit.” 

Science

Postdoctoral fellow Suhas Eswarappa Prameela speaks with Science Careers about how to develop and maintain successful relationships with advisors, mentors, and supervisors. “Faculty members are inundated with multiple administrative, teaching, and service activities, so being proactive, articulating your needs, and clearly communicating hurdles in the lab is key,” notes Prameela.

NPR

NPR’s Elizabeth Blair highlights the work of Prof. Danna Freedman, one of the 2022 MacArthur Fellows. Freedman, a synthetic inorganic chemist, is "creating novel molecular materials with unique properties directly relevant to quantum information technologies." Moriba Jah, a Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar, has also been awarded a MacArthur "genius grant" for his work "envisioning transparent and collaborative solutions for creating a circular space economy that improves oversight of Earth's orbital spheres."

The Boston Globe

Prof. Paulo Lozano speaks with Boston Globe reporter Travis Anderson about NASA’s recent asteroid test, which successfully shifted the orbit of a harmless asteroid. The mission had a “truly inspirational result,” says Lozano. “We’re getting closer to hav[ing] the ability to protect our planet from one of the most destructive forces in nature.”