By Alexandra Kahn | MIT Media Lab

MIT researchers are co-leading the design of a global Space Sustainability Rating system that will soon be operational.

Millions of objects created by humans orbit the Earth according to some estimates, creating a need for innovation to protect the space environment. Credit: European Space Agency

Each day, new and innovative space technologies are being developed in countries around the world, and with that, a steady stream of satellites, rockets, cargo ships, and crew vehicles are being launched into the Earth’s orbit and beyond.

So what happens to these systems when they come to the end of their functional life, or malfunction and break?

Some are programmed to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere where, if all goes well, they incinerate safely upon…


By Avery Normandin

A Labber’s panda avatar explores the outer-space themed atrium featuring invaders in zero gravity! Credit: Dan Novy

“The Festival of Learning is always a great opportunity to remember that we are a community of hobbyists who exist outside our official job titles. This year’s FoL provided the spontaneous interaction that I’ve missed after a year of scheduled Zoom calls. Thank you to the presenters who offered their time and expertise as a means of connection!”–FoL 2021 Attendee

We all know the beginning of 2021 at the MIT Media Lab looked and felt completely different than a typical academic year. One thing did stay the same, though: the Festival of Learning! Our challenge was to…


By Simone Williams

Credit: Space Exploration Initiative

MIT Space Exploration Initiative event shows that collective imagination is essential to space exploration and innovation


By Guillermo Bernal

Credit: OpenBCI, Inc

Virtual reality (VR) is increasingly being used for therapeutic purposes and for neuroscience and psychology research. Having access to real-time physiological and brain data in such experiments is highly desirable. Even still, nothing has compared to the wave of interest we are experiencing today with conferences, concerts, and meetings moving into VR due to the pandemic.

My name is Guillermo Bernal, a PhD candidate in the Fluid Interfaces group. As part of my research, I developed hardware that facilitates monitoring physiological signals from VR users. In 2018, my collaborators and I published a project called PhysioHMD in…


We started out investigating media coverage of LGBTQ+-specific data breach issues, yet race and racism are unavoidable. Potential harms from online dating apps are constant, but our attention to these issues should extend far beyond the pandemic.

By: Stephanie Nguyen, Aashka Dave, Dennis Jen, Emily Boardman Ndulue, Rahul Bhargava

Two smartphones displaying bright red hearts.
Two smartphones displaying bright red hearts.
Image by amrothman from Pixabay

In April 2020, an Instagram influencer encouraged tens of thousands of followers to download queer dating apps to strategically out friends and family in Morocco who may be LGBTQ+. …


By Shriya Srinivasan

Credit: Robert Barry

The Biomechatronics group recently pioneered a new type of amputation surgery, the AMI amputation, that allows patients to use a bionic prosthesis with greater control and sensory feedback.

After a year of seeing patients demonstrate significantly decreased pain, improved mobility, and speak about their vivid phantom limb sensations, we started wondering how the brains of these patients changed as compared to traditional amputees. This was especially interesting since traditional amputees experience quite a bit of phantom pain and irritating sensations, arising from the abnormal way in which their brain adapts to a loss of a limb.

In…


By Canan Dagdeviren

Credit: Emma Suh, Sara Fernandez, Fiona Cai and Sophia Chen

Quick Response and Transition

Back in March of 2020, universities and academic labs across the world were forced to cease operations and ramp down due to the coronavirus pandemic. My academic cleanroom at the MIT Media Lab was no exception. Although restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, etc. were already under heavy restrictions, it still came as a shock when I was told that the MIT Media Lab would be closing down until further notice. On this day, I stood in my group’s office space with the remaining staff who had not yet transitioned to remote working — myself…


By Alexandra Kahn

Credit: NASA

Space research, led by a diverse team of women scientists, will be presented at this year’s AIAA Ascend Conference.

Self-assembly construction, soft robotics, space debris reduction, satellite data for public health policy, insect life cycles, gastronomy, arts in microgravity. Just a sampling of the breadth of space research underway at the MIT Media Lab.

This week, as Media Lab researchers lead keynotes, plenary sessions, and workshops at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Ascend conference, the Media Lab’s distinctive contributions to the space sector will be on display.

Over the past few years, space research…


By Carolyn “CC” Song, High School Senior and Personal Robots Intern

A sample of the AI professionals that we interviewed for this series. Credit: Daniella DiPaola

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Whether the last time you thought about this question was a few days ago or a few decades ago, your answer has the power to potentially set you on a course for life.

For kids nowadays, future opportunities in the tech world are more abundant than ever. More specifically, the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing at an incredibly rapid rate and the careers that correspond to it are multiplying as well. That’s why I believe it is…


By the Space Exploration Initiative team

Credit: Wenjun Liang, Xin Liu

This year, we joined Ars Electronica In Kepler’s garden online program, a collective effort to reconnect.

We hosted three interactive workshops, spanning a diverse range of SEI’s current research thrusts: Wellbeing in Extreme Environments, led by Maggie Coblentz; Interplanetary Time, Communication and Longevity, led by Che-wei Wang and Sands Fish; and A New Moon Landing, led by Mehak Sarang. In addition we featured an exhibition on Sojourner2020, the first international art open call that took a trip to the International Space Station this March, led by Xin Liu.

Our digital spaceship is also live…

MIT Media Lab

The Media Lab is home to an interdisciplinary research culture where art, science, design, and technology build and play off one another.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store