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Aeronautical and astronautical engineering

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WBUR

Marcos Berríos ‘06, Christina Birch PhD ‘15 and Christopher Williams PhD ’12 have been selected as part of NASA’s 2021 astronaut candidate class, reports WBUR’s Bill Chappell. “Alone, each candidate has ‘the right stuff,’ but together they represent the creed of our country: E pluribus unum – out of many, one,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

The Boston Globe

Marcos Berríos ‘06, Christina Birch PhD ‘15, Christopher Williams PhD ‘12 are among the ten astronauts selected for the 2021 NASA astronaut class, reports Breanna Kovatch for The Boston Globe. “The class of astronauts were selected from among 12,000 candidates and is the first class in four years,” writes Kovatch.

WBUR

Prof. Jeffrey A. Hoffman will be featured in the Boston Jewish Film Festival in a new documentary called “Space Torah,” reports WBUR writer Erin Trahan. The documentary includes some of Hoffman’s proudest moments as an astronaut, “a brief history of human space exploration [and] how Hoffman turned his intergalactic childhood wonder into a remarkable career,” writes Trahan.

CNN

Astronaut Raja Chari SM ‘01 was among the four astronauts on the Crew-3 mission that departed Wednesday for a six-month science and research mission, reports CNN writer Jackie Wattles. “The research the Crew-3 astronauts will oversee includes an attempt to grow a ‘perfect crystal’ to enhance our understanding of biological processes, a test of the impact of diet on astronaut health, and the testing of a smartphone video guidance sensor for guidance, navigation, and control of the Astrobee free-flying robot,” explains Wattles.

Wired

Wired reporter Sarah Scoles spotlights how graduate students Thomas Abitante and Rachel Bellisle, both Draper Scholars, are developing new spacesuits and muscle toning devices that could help keep astronauts healthy while in space. “We need to make sure they're as healthy as possible,” says Abitante. “But we can't really add more exercise. So what else can we add?”

The Washington Post

Prof. Julie Shah speaks with Washington Post reporter Tatum Hunter about whether AI technologies will ever surpass human intelligence. “Any positive or negative use or outcome of this technology isn't predetermined. We have a lot of choices that we make,” Shah says. “And these should not be decisions that are left solely to technologists. Everybody needs to be involved because this technology has such a broad impact on all of us.”

New York Times

New York Times opinion writer Peter Coy spotlights Prof. Nancy Leveson’s research into accident prevention. Coy writes that Leveson’s approach “doesn’t focus on identifying individual faulty components or singling out blundering people. Instead she looks at how accidents can be caused by unforeseen interactions between various components of a complex system.” 

Wired

Prof. Danielle Wood and her team are developing new techniques to use satellite data to monitor and manage environmental problems in remote areas, including an invasive weed growing in parts of Africa, to help inform local decision making, reports Ramin Skibba for Wired. “Our goal is to make it an affordable and operationally feasible thing for them to have this ongoing view, with data from space, data from the air, and data from the water,” says Wood.

WCVB

WCVB-TV spotlights two MIT startups, True Moringa, a beauty and wellness company that uses the oil from Moringa trees grown in Ghana to directly benefit farmers in Ghana, and Sourcemap, which traces supply chains and provides transparency about where goods are stemming from. Says Kwami Williams ’12, co-founder and CEO, of his inspiration for True Moringa: “I started to ask myself, if aerospace engineers can help put a man on the Moon, then what can I do to help put more food on the table for families” in Ghana.

WBUR

WBUR’s Erin Trahan spotlights “Space Torah,” a short film that tells the “story of former NASA astronaut Jeff Hoffman (and current MIT professor) who read from a Torah he brought onboard one of his space missions.” The film will be shown online and in-person at the Museum of Science November 7-21.

Associated Press

A report by researchers from MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation finds that there should not be any changes to flight paths over Massachusetts towns, reports the AP. The researchers found “any alternative pattern would affect more people than the current paths, creating safety issues and a problem for air traffic controllers.”

Fast Company

Prof. Dava Newman, director of the MIT Media Lab, speaks with Mark Wilson of Fast Company about her vision for the future of the Media Lab. “We’re going to be a diverse and equitable place, we have to have everyone at the table,” says Newman. “We do have these special talents. We can see solutions in envisioning things that are further out. We are built on literal media and data, so we don’t shy away from any technical challenges.”

Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Bryan Marquard memorializes the life and work of Prof. Paul Lagacé, “whose aeronautics expertise was sought by government agencies and aircraft companies.” Lagacé, who came to MIT as a freshman and stayed at the Institute throughout his entire career, was also known at Fenway Park for his distinctive cheers for Red Sox star Wade Boggs.

WHDH 7

Ariel Ekblaw, founder and director of MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative, speaks with 7 News about the Blue Origins spaceflight. “We are at that cusp now of interplanetary civilization,” she said. “As the economy grows around space exploration, it will become more accessible and prices will drop, and that will become a huge success for everyone involved.”

Forbes

Institute Prof. Barbara Liskov, Prof. Dina Katabi, Prof. Dava Newman, Prof. Daniela Rus and a number of MIT alumnae and MIT Corporation members have been named to the Academic Influence list of the most influential women engineers in the world, reports Michael T. Nietzel for Forbes.