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Popular Science

Scientists from around the world, including researchers at MIT, have found evidence of past chemical reactions between liquid water and carbon-compounds on Mars, reports Laura Baisas for Popular Science. “We believe we have found these kinds of liquid water environments and organic compounds together. That’s sort of the limit to how we can describe what we call habitability,” explains postdoc Eva Linghan Scheller.

The Washington Post

A team of scientists, including researchers from MIT, have found that Martian rocks uncovered by NASA’s Perseverance contain “signs of a watery past and are loaded with the kind of organic molecules that are the foundations for life as we know it,” reports Joel Achenbach for The Washington Post. “On balance, we are actually super lucky that there are igneous rocks in the crater, and that we happened to land right on them, since they are ideal for determining ages and studying the past history of Mars’ magnetic field,” says Prof. Benjamin Weiss.

VICE

NASA’s Perseverance rover has uncovered evidence of habitable conditions that once existed on Mars, reports Becky Ferreira for Vice. “In that kind of environment, we’re seeing very, very strange chemistry which is not common on Earth at all, but seems to be more common on Mars because we’ve seen these kinds of materials in almost all the missions now,” says postdoctoral fellow Eva Scheller.

Salon

A new study by MIT scientists finds that Earth can self-regulate its temperature thanks to a stabilizing feedback mechanism that works over hundreds of thousands of years, reports Troy Farah for Salon. “The finding has big implications for our understanding of the past, but also how global heating is shaping the future of our home world,” writes Farah. “It even helps us better understand the evolution of planetary temperatures that can make the search for alien-inhabited exoplanets more fruitful.”

The Washington Post

Researchers at MIT and Stanford have developed a new tool that can better map the inside of an asteroid that risks crashing into earth, writes Pranshu Verma for The Washington Post. “Understanding the interior," said Prof. Julian De Witt, "helps us understand the extent to which close encounters could be of concern, and how to deal with them.”

Axios

A new tool developed by researchers at MIT and Stanford could help map out the interior of asteroids, reports Alison Synder and Miriam Kramer for Axios. This could make “it easier to know the most effective way of throwing them off-course,” writes Synder and Kramer.

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.