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Space, astronomy and planetary science

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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.

GBH

Michael Hecht of MIT’s Haystack Observatory speaks with GBH’s Edgar Herwick about how the MIT-designed MOXIE instrument has successfully extracted oxygen out of Martian air. “I've been using the expression ‘a small breath for man, a giant leap for humankind,'” says Hecht, who served as the PI for MOXIE.

The Boston Globe

Boston Globe reporter Charlie McKenna spotlights how MOXIE, an MIT-designed instrument onboard NASA’s Perseverance rover, has successfully produced oxygen on Mars. “What’s amazing to me is that this instrument has been through two years of kind of brutal treatment, right? And it’s behaving as if nothing happened, as if we just turned it off and turned it on again right away,” says Michael Hecht of MIT’s Haystack Observatory.

Boston Globe

Alumna Farah Alibay PhD ’14 speaks with Boston Globe reporter Charlie McKenna about her work with the Ingenuity helicopter, an experiment aimed at achieving flight on Mars. “If we are able to demonstrate flight, it could open up possibilities, incredible possibilities for future missions that could be scout helicopters for rovers or science helicopters for exploring Mars,” says Alibay. “It just opens up aerial explorations of Mars, then possibly other planets, too.”

The Washington Post

Prof. Sara Seager speaks with Washington Post reporter Timothy Bella about the search for exoplanets and the James Webb Telescope. “I just remember seeing the stars and being overwhelmed by the beauty and the vastness and the mysteriousness of it,” recalled Seager, of a camping trip with her father that helped inspire her interest in space. “There’s something almost terrifying about it at the same time as it being so beautiful, because yeah, it’s so unknown, and it seems like it goes on forever.”

NBC Boston

Al Chen '00, SM '02, a NASA systems engineer, speaks with NBC Boston about the hidden surprises that NASA engineers hid on the Perseverance rover for NASA fans and science enthusiasts to uncover. “I was at MIT for six years, we loved coding things, Mystery Hunt is a big deal,” says Chen. “I think it's a little bit of a chance to bring the art and the engineering together.”

CNN

Postdoc Tansu Daylan speaks with CNN reporter Ada Wood about his work mentoring two high school students, and their discovery of four new exoplanets. "When it comes to studying by comparison — that is, studying the atmospheres of planets beyond the solar system around sun-like stars — this is probably one of the best targets that we will ever get," says Daylan.

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.