Tag: Space, astronomy and planetary science

NASA selects three MIT alumni for astronaut training

On Monday, MIT confirmed once again its status as a popular launchpad for future astronauts. NASA announced that three MIT alumni are among its 10-member astronaut candidate class of 2021. Marcos Berríos ’06, who graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Christina Birch PhD ’15, who earned a doctorate from the Department of Biological Engineering, […]

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TESS discovers a planet the size of Mars but with the makeup of Mercury

Ultra-short-period planets are small, compact worlds that whip around their stars at close range, completing an orbit — and a single, scorching year — in less than 24 hours. How these planets came to be in such extreme configurations is one of the continuing mysteries of exoplanetary science. Now, astronomers have discovered an ultra-short-period planet […]

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One year on this giant, blistering hot planet is just 16 hours long

The hunt for planets beyond our solar system has turned up more than 4,000 far-flung worlds, orbiting stars thousands of  light years from Earth. These extrasolar planets are a veritable menagerie, from rocky super-Earths and miniature Neptunes to colossal gas giants. Among the more confounding planets discovered to date are “hot Jupiters” —  massive balls […]

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Mark Vogelsberger: Simulating galaxy formation for clues to the universe

For all its brilliant complexity, the Milky Way is rather unremarkable as galaxies go. At least, that’s how Mark Vogelsberger sees it. “Our galaxy has a couple features that might be a bit surprising, like the exact number of structures and satellites around it,” Vogelsberger muses. “But if you average over a lot of metrics, […]

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Taming the data deluge

An oncoming tsunami of data threatens to overwhelm huge data-rich research projects on such areas that range from the tiny neutrino to an exploding supernova, as well as the mysteries deep within the brain.  When LIGO picks up a gravitational-wave signal from a distant collision of black holes and neutron stars, a clock starts ticking […]

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Neutron star collisions are a “goldmine” of heavy elements, study finds

Most elements lighter than iron are forged in the cores of stars. A star’s white-hot center fuels the fusion of protons, squeezing them together to build progressively heavier elements. But beyond iron, scientists have puzzled over what could give rise to gold, platinum, and the rest of the universe’s heavy elements, whose formation requires more […]

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Astronomers detect signs of an atmosphere stripped from a planet during giant impact

Young planetary systems generally experience extreme growing pains, as infant bodies collide and fuse to form progressively larger planets. In our own solar system, the Earth and moon are thought to be products of this type of giant impact. Astronomers surmise that such smashups should be commonplace in early systems, but they have been difficult […]

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Q&A: Lucy mission launches to study ancient Trojan asteroids

On Saturday morning, NASA’s Lucy spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, beginning a 12-year, nearly 4-billion-mile mission to explore some of the oldest objects in the solar system. Named after the famous Australopithecus fossil “Lucy,” the spacecraft will make two slingshot trips around Earth before heading toward a cluster of asteroids […]

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Scientists find evidence the early solar system harbored a gap between its inner and outer regions

In the early solar system, a “protoplanetary disk” of dust and gas rotated around the sun and eventually coalesced into the planets we know today. A new analysis of ancient meteorites by scientists at MIT and elsewhere suggests that a mysterious gap existed within this disk around 4.567 billion years ago, near the location where […]

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Rover images confirm Jezero crater is an ancient Martian lake

The first scientific analysis of images taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover has now confirmed that Mars’ Jezero crater — which today is a dry, wind-eroded depression — was once a quiet lake, fed steadily by a small river some 3.7 billion years ago. The images also reveal evidence that the crater endured flash floods. This […]

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Taylor Perron receives 2021 MacArthur Fellowship

Taylor Perron, professor of geology and associate department head for education in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, has been named a recipient of a 2021 MacArthur Fellowship. Often referred to as “genius grants,” the fellowships are awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to talented individuals in a variety […]

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MIT, US Space Force to explore opportunities for research and workforce development

Advancing human understanding and exploration in space is a long-standing pursuit of researchers and students at MIT. For the U.S. military, space technologies and discovery have wide-ranging implications on national security. With that history and context in mind, the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AeroAstro) hosted an on-campus event on Aug. 31, marking a […]

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