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Planetary science

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CBS News

Prof. Richard Binzel speaks with CBS News reporter David Pogue about asteroids and the Torino scale, a 10-point danger scale for asteroids that he created. "All the objects [asteroids] we know of today reside at zero or one, which simply means they're so small that they don't matter, or that we know for sure there's no impact possibility," says Binzel.

Popular Mechanics

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have discovered a new exoplanet within a star’s habitable zone, reports Popular Mechanics. The exoplanet “requires further investigation to see if [it] has a life-supporting atmosphere – and possibly water,” writes Popular Mechanics.

Science

Prof. Tanja Bosak speaks with Science reporter Eric Hand about how scientists plan to study rock samples from Mars for clues as to whether the planet once had a magnetic field and for signs of ancient life, such as the tough lipid molecules that can form cell walls. “You hope for an outline of a cell,” she says. “You will never find peptides and proteins, but lipids can persist.”

The Atlantic

Prof. Jack Wisdom and his colleagues have found that Saturn’s rings are comprised of debris from its former moon, reports Marina Koren for The Atlantic. “The researchers say the moon’s demise was mostly Titan’s fault. The big moon jostled the smaller one, putting the object on a very elongated track around Saturn,” writes Koren.

Forbes

Prof. Jack Wisdom and his colleagues have found that “Saturn’s rings are a result of a moon that was torn apart by the planet’s tidal forces about 160 million years ago,” reports Jamie Carter for Forbes. “Wisdom and his co-researchers have dubbed the moon Chrysalis after the process of Chrysalis transforming into a butterfly,” writes Carter.

Reuters

Reuters reporter Will Dunham writes that scientists from MIT and other institutions have found that the destruction of a large moon, called Chrysalis, that “strayed too close to Saturn would account both for the birth of the gas giant planet's magnificent rings and its unusual orbital tilt of about 27 degrees.” Prof. Jack Wisdom explained that "as a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis, the rings of Saturn emerged from the primordial satellite Chrysalis.”

CNN

A new study co-authored by MIT scientists proposes that Saturn’s rings could have been created when a lost moon of Saturn’s became unstable and crashed into the planet, reports Katie Hunt for CNN. “While the gas giant likely swallowed 99% of the moon, the remainder became suspended in orbit, breaking into small icy chunks that ultimately formed the planet’s rings,” writes Hunt.

New Scientist

Prof. Jack Wisdom and his colleagues have found that Saturn may have acquired its tilt and rings from a lost moon that was destroyed, reports Leah Crane for New Scientist. “Simulations using data from the Cassini spacecraft shows that an additional moon between Titan and Iapetus, destroyed between 100 million and 200 million years ago, could explain both of these long-standing mysteries,” explains Crane.

Popular Science

Prof. Jack Wisdom is the lead author of a new study that proposes “Saturn and Neptune’s gravity may have once been in sync, but Saturn has since escaped Neptune’s pull due to a missing moon,” reports Laura Baisas for Popular Science.

The Hill

The Venus Life Finder (VLF) developed by scientists at MIT will be launched on a Rocket lab Electronic in May of 2023 to search for life in the upper atmosphere of Venus, reports Mark R. Whittington for The Hill. “When it plunges into Venus’ atmosphere it will use an instrument called the ‘autofluorescing nephelometer’ that will use a laser to illuminate organic molecules that may or may not exist 50 kilometers above the planet’s surface,” writes Whittington.

The Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Pranshu Verma highlights how MIT researchers have demonstrated that the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) can convert carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen on Mars. “It’s what explorers have done since time immemorial,” explains Prof. Jeffrey Hoffman. “Find out what resources are available where you’re going to and find out how to use them.”

The Boston Globe

MIT researchers have used the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) to successfully generate oxygen on Mars, reports Martin Finucane for The Boston Globe. “This is the first demonstration of actually using resources on the surface of another planetary body and transforming them chemically into something that would be useful for a human mission,” says Prof. Jeffrey Hoffman. “It’s historic in that sense.”

The Guardian

MIT researchers’ Mars Oxygen in-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) has been successfully generating breathable oxygen on Mars, reports The Guardian. “It is hoped that at full capacity the system could generate enough oxygen to sustain humans once they arrive on Mars, and fuel a rocket to return humans to Earth,” writes The Guardian.

VICE

The MIT MOXIE experiment, which traveled to Mars aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover, has been able to create oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, reports Sarah Wells for Vice. “This experiment is also the first to successfully harvest and use resources on any planetary body, a process that will be important not only for Martian exploration but future lunar habitats as well,” writes Wells.

CNN

CNN reporters Katie Hunt and Ashley Strickland spotlight how the MIT-led Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) has been successfully generating oxygen on Mars during seven experimental test runs in a variety of atmospheric conditions. “A scaled up MOXIE would include larger units that could run continuously and potentially be sent to Mars ahead of a human mission to produce oxygen at the rate of several hundred trees,” they write. “This would allow the generation -- and storage -- of enough oxygen to both sustain humans once they arrive and fuel a rocket for returning astronauts back to Earth.”