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Space, astronomy and planetary science

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Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Hiawatha Bray spotlights Accion Systems, an MIT startup that makes “small thrusters that use an electric current to turn a liquid propellant into a stream of ionized gas. The result is gentle but effective thrust that can be used to adjust a satellite’s orbit or slow it down at the end of its life, so it can fall harmlessly back to earth.”

WHDH 7

Ariel Ekblaw, founder and director of MIT’s Space Exploration Initiative, speaks with 7 News about the Blue Origins spaceflight. “We are at that cusp now of interplanetary civilization,” she said. “As the economy grows around space exploration, it will become more accessible and prices will drop, and that will become a huge success for everyone involved.”

The Guardian

Alumna Emily Calandrelli S.M. ’13 speaks with Guardian reporter Kieran Yates about the need for more diversity in the space sector. Calandrelli notes that the push for greater diversity and inclusion will lead to new ideas and innovations, saying: “I can’t remember feeling as excited about the future of the industry as right now.”

Bloomberg TV

Prof. Danielle Wood speaks with Andrew Browne of Bloomberg TV about her work focused on using space technologies as a way to advance the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Wood emphasizes how space “is a platform for serving the broad public. We use satellites to observe the environment and the climate, we use satellites to connect people across different parts of the Earth, and they give us information about our positions and our weather. All of these are broad public goods that really can serve people across the world all at once.”

Quartz

Alumnus Mike Cassidy S.B. ’85, S.M. ’86 founded a company called Apollo Fusion, which makes electrical propulsion systems for small satellites, reports Tim Fernholz for Quartz. Apollo Fusion’s thruster were set to be deployed in space for the first time on June 29 by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Bloomberg

Prof. Danielle Wood has been named to Bloomberg’s list of catalysts who are inspiring “new ideas, fresh thinking and novel approaches to old quandaries. But most importantly, they incite action,” writes Andrew Browne for Bloomberg. “Wood uses her expertise to harness space technology for development challenges around the world,” writes Laura Bolt.

CNN

CNN reporter Ashley Strickland writes about how researchers from the CHIME collaboration have announced that they have detected over 500 fast radio bursts (FRBs) using a radio telescope in Canada. "With all these sources, we can really start getting a picture of what FRBs look like as a whole, what astrophysics might be driving these events, and how they can be used to study the universe going forward," explains graduate student Kaitlyn Shin.

Nature

Scientists from the CHIME Collaboration, including MIT researchers, have reported that the radio telescope has detected more than 500 fast radio bursts in its first year of operation, reports Davide Castelvecchi for Nature. The findings suggest that these events come in two distinct types. “I think this really just nails it that there is a difference,” says Prof. Kiyoshi Masui.

The Boston Globe

The CHIME radio telescope has catalogues more than 500 fast radio bursts (FRBs), which could be used to help map the universe, reports Charlie McKenna for The Boston Globe. FRBs are “kind of like lighthouses or sonar pings,” explains graduate student Calvin Leung, “and for the very first time we’ve shown that we can detect them in large enough quantities that you can really use them to make statements like, ‘Oh, the universe is expanding at this rate,’ or ‘This is how much matter there is in the whole universe.’”

Inverse

Inverse reporter Passant Rabie explores how the CHIME radio telescope has identified more than 500 fast radio bursts in its first year of operation, providing clues as to the structure of the universe. “With enough of them, they are going to be the ultimate tool for mapping the universe,” says Prof. Kiyoshi Masui.

National Public Radio (NPR)

Brother Guy Consolmagno ’74, director of the Vatican Observatory, speaks with Sylvia Poggioli of NPR about his desire to promote a greater dialogue between faith and science. "Because people can see science in action, science doesn't have all the answers," says Consolmagno. "And yet science is still with all of its mistakes and with all of its stumbling is still better than no science."

Axios

Axios reporter Miriam Kramer writes that a new study co-authored by MIT researchers suggests that all black holes go through a similar cycle when feeding, whether they are big or small. “Black holes are some of the most extreme objects found in our universe,” writes Kramer. “By studying the way they grow, scientists should be able to piece together more about how they work.”

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Charlie McKenna writes that a new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds that the way black holes evolve as they consume material is the same, no matter their size. “What we’re demonstrating is, if you look at the properties of a supermassive black hole in the cycle, those properties are very much like a stellar-mass black hole,” says research scientist Dheeraj “DJ” Pasham. The findings mean “black holes are simple, and elegant in a sense.”

The Academic Times

Academic Times reporter Monisha Ravisetti writes that a new study by physicists from a number of institutions, including MIT, finds that supermassive black holes devour gas just like their smaller counterparts. “This is demonstrating that, essentially, all black holes behave the same way,” says research scientist Dheeraj “DJ” Pasham. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a 10 solar mass black hole or a 50 million solar mass black hole – they appear to be acting the same way when you throw a ball of gas at it.”

New Scientist

New Scientist reporter Leah Crane writes that researchers from the LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories have potentially detected primordial black holes that formed in the early days of the universe. “When I started this, I was expecting that we would not find any significant level of support for primordial black holes, and instead I got surprised,” says Prof. Salvatore Vitale.