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Mashable

Xin Liu SM ’17, art curator for the Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative, and Pat Pataranutaporn, a graduate student, speak with Mashable video producer Teodosia Dobriyanova about why sending plastic-eating bacteria to space could aid sustainability efforts. “We envision that in the future when astronauts, as they travel deeper into space, they’ll need to do what we call in-situ resource utilization,” says Pataranutaporn. “So using the materials that already exists there, in this case plastic waste, to upcycle it into new materials.”

Wired

Prof. Zachary Cordero and his team are working to develop an in-space manufacturing technique to design a satellite reflector that can monitor storms and precipitation through moisture changes in the atmosphere, reports Ramin Skibba for Wired. “It involves bending a single strand of wire at specific nodes and angles, then adding joints to make a stiff structure,” writes Skibba.

Gizmodo

Research Scientist Mary Knapp’s proposal for a Great Observatory for Long Wavelengths (GO-LoW), a space-based observatory consisting of thousands of satellites that could study the magnetic fields of distant and rocky exoplanets, has been selected for NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts programs, writes George Dvorsky for Gizmodo.

The Washington Post

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station completed an experiment to test a system developed by researchers from MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative that would allow astronauts to build parts in space, reports Pranshu Verma for The Washington Post. The new system could allow astronauts to build and modify space stations “quicker, cheaper and with less complexity,” explains Ariel Ekblaw, director and founder of the Space Exploration Initiative. “It starts to unlock more opportunities for exploration.”

Popular Science

MIT researchers developed a new system to build gravity-defying spare parts in space that is currently being tested aboard the International Space Station, reports Rahul Rao for Popular Science. “The MIT group’s process involves taking a flexible silicone skin, shaped like the part it will eventually create, and filling it with a liquid resin,” writes Rao. “These are going to be our first results for a really novel process in microgravity,” explains Ariel Ekblaw SM ’17, PhD ’20, director of the Space Exploration Initiative.

National Geographic

A team of MIT students developed reconfigurable robots capable of exploring rough terrains on the moon as part of NASA's Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge, reports Alejandra Borunda for National Geographic. The MIT students “figured that once astronauts were on the moon, they’d want to use various types of robots so they designed “‘Lego-like combinations that can be reconfigured,’” the team explained.

Scientific American

Prof. Paulo Lozano speaks with Scientific American reporter Nadia Drake about the CubeSats NASA tested during the Artemis I mission. “There are not that many opportunities to actually go to deep space with CubeSats, so having more of those opportunities available—I think it’s a great thing for little satellites,” Lozano says. “I think there’s going to be a lot of things to be learned about how to design these spacecraft so that, in the future, we can design little spacecraft that can accomplish what big spacecraft can achieve.”

Scientific American

Using data from the James Webb Space Telescope, postdoc Rohan Naidu and his colleagues discovered a candidate galaxy in the early universe that is one of two candidate galaxies older than any others known before, reports Jonathan O'Callaghan for Scientific American.

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.

Popular Science

SeedLabs is working with a team including the MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative to test out “microbes’ capabilities in space, potentially providing important advancements for both pollution reduction on earth as well as uses for astronauts during future lunar and Maritain explorations,” reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science.

Fast Company

The MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative is working with SeedLabs, the environmental division of Seed Health, to study how microbes perform in space. “Along with testing how the microbes perform in a zero-gravity, high UV radiation-environment, the experiment could also be the starting point to exploring a future in which astronauts have a system to recycle their plastic waste and turn it into new materials,” reports Kristin Toussaint for Fast Company.  

CNN

Postdoc Rohan Naidu speaks with CNN reporter Ashley Strickland about the significance of the James Webb Space Telescope. “With Webb, we were amazed to find the most distant starlight that anyone had ever seen, just days after Webb released its first data,” says Naidu.

Forbes

Researchers from the MIT Space Exploration Initiative are sending two payloads to the moon with Lunar Outpost, a space technology company, reports Arianna Johnson for Forbes. “The Resource camera will generate 3-3 images of different lunar points of interest,” writes Johnson. “The second payload is the AstroAnt, a miniature rover the size of a matchbox that will drive atop the MAPP rover and take contactless measurements of the rover’s radiator.”