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Planetary science

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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.

CBS This Morning

Prof. Sara Seager speaks with Holly Williams on CBS This Morning about the discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus. “Finding phosphine leaves us with two equally crazy ideas,” says Seager. “One is that there is some unknown chemistry, and the other one is that there’s some possibility there might be some kind of life producing phosphine on Venus.”

The Washington Post

Research scientist Clara Sousa-Silva speaks with Washington Post reporters Joel Achenbach and Marisa Iati about her work trying to determine whether phosphine in the clouds of Venus could be a potential indicator of life. “We did our very best to show what else would be causing phosphine in the abundance we found on Venus,” says Sousa-Silva. “And we found nothing. We found nothing close.”

CNN

Writing for CNN, Prof. Sara Seager explores the significance of the paper she co-authored detailing the discovery of phosphine on Venus. “Our finding of phosphine gas now raises Venus as just one more place to take seriously in the search for life beyond Earth,” writes Seager, “maybe not so crazy after all.”

Wired

Wired reporter Sarah Scoles spotlights the work of research scientist Clara Sousa-Silva, known as Dr. Phosphine on Twitter, and her quest to learn more about phosphine. Scoles writes that Sousa-Silva is a “leading expert in this little-characterized molecule. She identified 16.8 billion features across the full spectrum, greatly expanding on the mere thousands anyone knew about before.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniela Hernandez writes about a new study co-authored by MIT researchers detailing signs of phosphine on Venus. Clara Sousa-Silva, a research scientist at MIT, explains that Venus is an “abominable place,” but noted that “the clouds themselves could be habitable.”

The Boston Globe

The discovery of phosphine, a potential indicator of life, in the atmosphere of Venus, “is unbelievably important, and it is unbelievably exciting,” says research scientist Janusz Petkowski in an interview with Boston Globe reporter Martin Finucane. “Everything about this is completely unexpected.”

Radio Boston (WBUR)

Research scientists Clara Sousa-Silva and Janusz Petkowski speak with Tiziana Dearing of WBUR’s Radio Boston on the significance of finding phosphine on Venus. “We found something extraordinary on Venus,” says Sousa-Silva. “It may be just a sign of really strange chemistry that we cannot begin to consider, but there is a small possibility that it may be a sign of not just strange chemistry, but strange biochemistry, and the culprit is the molecule phosphine.”

The Atlantic

Atlantic reporter Marina Koren writes that astronomers have detected signs of a gas produced by microorganisms in the clouds of Venus. “As crazy as it might sound, our most plausible explanation is life,” explains research scientist Clara Sousa-Silva.

Associated Press

Astronomers have uncovered phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus, a potential sign of microbial life, reports Seth Borenstein for the AP. Prof. Sara Seager explains that she and her colleagues, “exhaustively went through every possibility and ruled all of them out: volcanoes, lightning strikes, small meteorites falling into the atmosphere. ... Not a single process we looked at could produce phosphine in high enough quantities to explain our team’s findings.”

National Public Radio (NPR)

Research scientists Clara Sousa-Silva and Janusz Petkowski speak with NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce about their new study that provides evidence that phosphine, a gas associated with microbial life, is present on Venus. "This is not life that we would find pleasant," says Sousa-Silva. "Then again, they probably find us disgusting."