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Geology

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CNN

Prof. Benjamin Weiss speaks with CNN reporter Ashley Strickland about how the Perseverance rover will select samples of Martian materials. "The key for this mission will be identifying samples so compelling that we can't afford to leave them," says Weiss. "We are selecting these for humanity, so we need to make sure they are the most exciting."

Mashable

A study by MIT researchers uncovers evidence that the Earth’s global ice ages were triggered by a rapid drop in sunlight, reports Mashable. The researchers found that an “event like volcanic eruptions or biologically induced cloud formation will be able to block out the sun and limit the solar radiation reaching the surface at a critical rate that can potentially trigger ‘Snowball Earth’ events.”

NECN

Michael Hecht of MIT’s Haystack Observatory speaks with Perry Russom of NECN about MOXIE, a new experimental device that will convert carbon dioxide in the Marian atmosphere into oxygen. Hecht explains that the inspiration for MOXIE lies in how it would be easier, “if we could make that oxygen on Mars and not have to bring this huge honking oxygen tank with us all the way from Earth.”

Vox

Prof. Tanja Bosak speaks with Vox reporter Brian Resnick about how Martian materials collected by the Perseverance rover might provide clues about early life forms on Earth. "These [Martian] rocks are older, by half a billion or a billion years, than anything that’s well preserved that we have on Earth,” says Bosak.

Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Caroline Enos spotlights the contributions of MIT researchers to the Mars 2020 mission, in particular the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment or MOXIE. “MOXIE could have a big impact on future missions if it is successful,” Enos explains.

Smithsonian Magazine

Haystack’s Michael Hecht, the principal investigator for the Mars MOXIE experiment, speaks with Max G. Levy of Smithsonian about the challenges involved in developing MOXIE’s oxygen-producing technology. “We want to show we can run [MOXIE] in the daytime, and the nighttime, in the winter, and in the summer, and when it’s dusty out," says Hecht, "in all of the different environments."

Forbes

Forbes contributor Bruce Dominey writes that a study by MIT researchers finds global ice ages may have been triggered by a rapid decrease in the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth. “Past Snowball glaciations are more likely to have been triggered by changes in effective solar radiation than by changes in the carbon cycle,” writes Dominey.

The Verge

Prof. Tanja Bosak speaks with Verge reporter Loren Grush about the significance of the Mars 2020 mission and the Perseverance rover’s quest to bring back samples of Martian material to Earth. “This is really a unique — really a once-in-a-lifetime — opportunity to get samples from a known location on Mars,” says Bosak.

Forbes

A study by Prof. Dan Rothman finds that increasing greenhouse gas emission rates could trigger a mass extinction in the ocean, reports Priya Shukla for Forbes. Shukla writes that Rothman found if a certain carbon threshold “is breached, it would take tens of thousands of years for the oceans to return to their original unperturbable state.”

Boston Globe

A study by Prof. Daniel Rothman finds that if carbon emissions exceed a critical threshold, it could lead to a mass extinction, reports Martin Finucane for The Boston Globe. "We should limit carbon dioxide emissions,” says Rothman. “The carbon cycle is a non-linear system, and if you perturb it, surprising things may happen.”

Live Science

LiveScience reporter Stephanie Pappas writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds that massive tectonic collisions in the tropics may have led to the last three ice ages on Earth. “This could provide a simple tectonic process that explains how Earth goes in and out of glacial periods,” explains Prof. Oliver Jagoutz.

Xinhuanet

A new study by MIT researchers shows that the Sahara desert and North Africa alternate between wet and dry conditions every 20,000 years, reports the Xinhua news agency. The researchers found that the “climatic pendulum was mainly driven by changes to the Earth's axis as the planet orbits the sun, which in turn affect the distribution of sunlight between seasons.”

Boston Globe

A new study by MIT researchers uncovers evidence that more than a quadrillion tons of diamonds are located in the Earth’s upper mantle, reports Katie Camero for The Boston Globe. Camero explains that, “researchers came to this conclusion after they found in global records over the past few decades a ‘glitch’ in seismic wave activity.”

Motherboard

A team including MIT research scientist Ulrich Faul has discovered that the Earth’s interior contains 1,000 times more diamonds than was previously thought, writes Sarah Emerson for Motherboard. The researchers believe that one to two percent of “craton roots,” which are the deepest sections of the “rock layers extending upwards of 200 miles through the Earth’s crust and mantle,” may contain diamonds.

AFP

MIT researchers have discovered a cache of diamonds below the surface of the Earth, deeper than any drilling expedition has ventured, reports the Agence France-Presse wire. This discovery was made after “scientists were puzzled by observations that sound waves would speed up significantly when passing through the roots of ancient cratons.”