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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.”

Bloomberg

Bloomberg News reporter Martine Paris writes that the MIT MOXIE experiment has been converting carbon dioxide from the Martian environment into oxygen since the Perseverance rover landed on Mars. “Seven times last year, throughout the Martian seasons, Moxie was able to produce about six grams (0.2 ounces) of oxygen per hour,” writes Paris.

New Scientist

During day and night, in the wake of a dust storm and in extreme temperatures, the MIT-led Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) was able to generate about 100 minutes of breathable oxygen in 2021 on Mars, reports Jacklin Kawn for New Scientist. “At the highest level, this is just a brilliant success,” said Michael Hecht, principal investigator of the MOXIE mission at MIT’s Haystack Observatory.

The Daily Beast

Prof. Sara Seager and her team have organized three  missions to Venus to search for signs of life in the clouds surrounding the planet, reports David Axe for the Daily Beast. Each mission “would fling a probe into the toxic planet’s acidic atmosphere and collect data on the presence, or absence, of something resembling life,” explains Axe.

Forbes

Astronomers have identified two Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting a red dwarf star 33 light years away, reports Jamie Carter for Forbes. “Both planets in this system are each considered among the best targets for atmospheric study because of the brightness of their star,” explains postdoc Michelle Kunimoto.

New York Times

To celebrate the list of known exoplanets topping 5,000, New York Times reporter Becky Ferreira spoke with astronomers, actors and astronauts about their favorite exoplanets or exoplanetary systems. “TOI-1233 is an outstanding planetary system with its high number of transiting planets, sunlike host star and its proximity to the solar system,” says postdoc Tansu Daylan of the system he detected along with two high school students he was mentoring.

Wired

Prof. Sara Seager has been awarded one of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) awards, which will help fund her project aimed at sending an orbiter that deploys an inflatable probe to Venus, as part of an effort to search for habitability or signs of life, reports Ramin Skibba for Wired. “This search for signs of life on Venus has been around for a long time, and now the stars are aligned to start taking it seriously,” says Seager.

Forbes

Forbes contributor David Bressan writes that a new study by MIT researchers proposes that oxygen began accumulating in early Earth’s atmosphere due to interactions between marine microbes and minerals in ocean sediments. The researchers hypothesize that “these interactions helped prevent oxygen from being consumed, setting off a self-amplifying process where more and more oxygen was made available to accumulate in the atmosphere,” writes Bressan.

Gizmodo

MIT astronomers have observed the dark side of a football-shaped exoplanet known as WASP-121b and found that it may have metal clouds made up of iron, corundum, and titanium, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo. “The vastly different temperatures on either side of the planet make a dynamic environment for the various molecules floating around the atmosphere,” writes Schultz. “In the daytime, water gets ripped apart by the nearly 5,000° Fahrenheit heat and blown to the night side of the planet by 11,000-mile-per-hour winds.”

CNN

CNN reporter Ashley Strickland writes that MIT researchers have observed the dark side of an exoplanet that is 855 light years from Earth and found that the gas giant may have metal clouds and rain containing liquid gems. The researchers found that the “exoplanet has a glowing water vapor atmosphere and is being deformed into the shape of a football due to the intense gravitational pull of the star it orbits,” writes Strickland.