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Planetary science

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GBH

"We are looking for remnants of past life," says Prof. Tanja Bosak in a discussion broadcast on GBH's Boston Public Radio of the NASA Perseverance rover’s mission on Mars. "There won't be anything that's a complex organism, so everything we have to look for is microscopic. All these rocks tell a story. Depending on their chemical properties and the way they look, we can tell a history and then decide which may have been good to preserve life."

Bloomberg Radio

Michael Hecht, associate director of MIT’s Haystack Observatory, speaks with Joe Shortsleeve of Bloomberg Radio about the MOXIE experiment onboard the NASA Perseverance rover.

USA Today

USA Today reporter Elinor Aspegren highlights alumna Dr. Swati Mohan, who led guidance, navigation and controls operations for the NASA Perseverance landing on Mars.

WHDH 7

WHDH reporter Aisha Mbowe spotlights how the MIT-designed Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) is onboard NASA’s Perseverance rover.

CBS Boston

Profs. Tonja Bosak and Jeffrey Hoffman speak with CBS Boston about the successful landing of the NASA Perseverance rover on Mars. Hoffman says of the MIT-designed Mars MOXIE experiment: “we are going to demonstrate how to make oxygen on the surface of Mars…we want to learn how to produce that on the surface of Mars and that’s what Moxie is going to demonstrate for the first time.”

The Boston Globe

Michael Hecht, associate director of MIT’s Haystack Observatory, speaks with Charlie McKenna of The Boston Globe about the MIT-designed Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE). “If we could plant a tree on Mars, it would do what MOXIE is doing. But we can’t, so we build a machine to do it,” he said. “If we’re serious about having a presence on Mars and having a research base, we need a way to make oxygen.”

Smithsonian Magazine

Two high school students and their mentor, MIT postdoc Tansu Daylan, have discovered four new exoplanets located about 200 light years from Earth, reports Nora McGreevy for Smithsonian. The students were participating in the Student Research Mentoring Program, which pairs young astronomers with scientists at MIT and Harvard. “[The students] are so good at finding things that may skip your eyes, basically. It’s fun. And I really like the exchange of ideas,” Daylan adds. 

Mashable

Mashable spotlights how two high school students, who were part of Student Research Mentoring Program (SRMP) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and MIT, have discovered four new exoplanets. “Both the students took guidance from mentor Tansu Daylan, a postdoc at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, and helped the students study and analyze data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).” 

Wired

Research scientist Clara Sousa-Silva speaks with Wired reporter Abigail Beall about phosphine, a molecule that she has spent the past decade investigating. “Phosphine is a horrific molecule, it’s foul in every way,” she says. “It’s almost immoral, if a molecule can be.”

The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, graduate student Craig Robert Martin delves into his research exploring how the Himalayas were created. “By decoding the magnetic records preserved inside them, we hoped to reconstruct the geography of ancient landmasses – and revise the story of the creation of the Himalayas,” writes Martin.

Fox News

Fox News reporter Chris Ciaccia writes that a team of astronomers, including MIT researchers, has found an exoplanet that has a 3.14-day orbit. “The ‘pi planet’ known as K2-315b is relatively close to Earth at 186 light-years away,” writes Ciaccia.

Forbes

MIT researchers have discovered an Earth-sized planet, named K2-315b, which is being referred to as the “pi planet” for its 3.14 day orbit, reports Allison Gasparini for Forbes. “Having planets like K2-315b will help us to further understand the diverse planet bodies out there,” says graduate student Prajwal Niraula.

The Guardian

 “At our best, scientists are explorers and what I’ve discovered is that life can change in the blink of an eye,” writes Prof. Sara Seager in an excerpt from her new book, “The Smallest Lights in the Universe” published by The Guardian. “We need to hold on to the glimmers of hope – however small – and to continue to search for what really matters.”

The Washington Post

Prof. Sara Seager speaks with Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach about the Breakthrough Initiative she is leading aimed at exploring the feasibility of sending an exploration mission to Venus. “We just want to do something small and fast and focused,” says Seager. “Can we send a microscope and look for life directly?” 

Space.com

A team of researchers, led by Prof. Sara Seager, is planning to investigate why phosphine has been found on Venus and the discovery’s potential implications, reports Mike Wall for Space.com. “We are thrilled to push the envelope to try to understand what kind of life could exist in the very harsh Venus atmosphere and what further evidence for life a mission to Venus could search for,” says Seager.