NASA’s Europa Clipper Builds Hardware, Moves Toward Assembly
LinkedIn
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech With an internal global ocean twice the size of Earth’s oceans combined, Jupiter’s moon Europa carries the potential for conditions suitable for life. But the frigid temperatures and the nonstop pummeling of the surface from Jupiter’s radiation make it a tricky target to explore: Mission engineers and scientists must design a spacecraft hardy enough to withstand the radiation yet sensitive enough to gather the science needed to investigate Europa’s environment. The Europa Clipper orbiter will swoop around Jupiter on an elliptical path, dipping close to the moon on each flyby to conduct detailed reconnaissance. The science includes gathering measurements of the internal ocean, mapping the surface composition and its geology, and hunting for plumes of water vapor that may be venting from the icy crust. Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory test an engineering model of a high-frequency (HF) radar antenna Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory test an engineering model of a high-frequency (HF) radar antenna that makes up part of NASA's Europa Clipper radar instrument on Dec. 17, 2019. The 59-foot-long (18-meter-long) antenna is held straight by a cross bar on the tower at right. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech Development of the spacecraft is progressing well, based on the intense examination NASA recently completed. The Critical Design Review conducted a deep dive into the specifics of the plans for all of the science instruments – from cameras to antennas – and flight subsystems, including propulsion,

Jupiter’s moon Europa may have the potential to harbor life. The spacecraft will use multiple flybys of the moon to investigate the habitability of this ocean world.

Europa Clipper, NASA’s upcoming flagship mission to the outer solar system, has passed a significant milestone, completing its Critical Design Review. During the review, experts examined the detailed design of the spacecraft to ensure that it is ready to complete construction. The mission is now able to complete hardware fabrication and testing, and move toward the assembly and testing of the spacecraft and its payload of sophisticated science instruments.

PHOTO: NASA/JPL-Caltech

With an internal global ocean twice the size of Earth’s oceans combined, Jupiter’s moon Europa carries the potential for conditions suitable for life. But the frigid temperatures and the nonstop pummeling of the surface from Jupiter’s radiation make it a tricky target to explore: Mission engineers and scientists must design a spacecraft hardy enough to withstand the radiation yet sensitive enough to gather the science needed to investigate Europa’s environment.

The Europa Clipper orbiter will swoop around Jupiter on an elliptical path, dipping close to the moon on each flyby to conduct detailed reconnaissance. The science includes gathering measurements of the internal ocean, mapping the surface composition and its geology, and hunting for plumes of water vapor that may be venting from the icy crust.
Development of the spacecraft is progressing well, based on the intense examination NASA recently completed. The Critical Design Review conducted a deep dive into the specifics of the plans for all of the science instruments – from cameras to antennas – and flight subsystems, including propulsion, power, avionics, and the flight computer.

“We showed that our project system design is strong,” said Europa Clipper Project Manager Jan Chodas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Our plans for completing the development and integration of the individual pieces hold together, and the system as a whole will function as designed to gather the science measurements we need to explore the potential habitability of Europa.”
Development of the spacecraft is progressing well, based on the intense examination NASA recently completed. The Critical Design Review conducted a deep dive into the specifics of the plans for all of the science instruments – from cameras to antennas – and flight subsystems, including propulsion, power, avionics, and the flight computer.

“We showed that our project system design is strong,” said Europa Clipper Project Manager Jan Chodas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “Our plans for completing the development and integration of the individual pieces hold together, and the system as a whole will function as designed to gather the science measurements we need to explore the potential habitability of Europa.”

Read the full article at NASA.

NASA, SpaceX Crew-2 prepare for another historic flight
LinkedIn
Four astronauts prepare for their flight. Standing side by side while wearing modern, all white, space suits.

By Julia Musto, Fox News

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is set to launch for the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday morning.

In a prelaunch press conference on Tuesday, representatives from the agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the European Space Agency (ESA) confirmed that they were set for a 6:11 a.m. ET liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Crew Dragon Endeavour, marking the second crew rotation on a commercial spacecraft mission and the first with two international partner astronauts.

NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet will embark on a six-month trip aboard the ISS.

Once there, International Space Station manager Joel Montalbano said they will conduct more than 260 scientific experiments and that the fourth crew member will help to increase the research and development for both the highly anticipated Artemis program and the low Earth orbit commercialization efforts.

“With the crew-2 launch, we welcome the European Space Agency’s flying an astronaut for the first time on Dragon. We also welcome back the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency flying on Dragon for a second time,” he added. “So, truly an international program and this is our future where we’ll have international partners on our vehicles for the future. That’s a goal and that’s where we’re planning to be.”
Speaking before Montalbano, Commercial Crew Program manager Steve Stitch said that the NASA-SpaceX team had its first “Readiness Review” and dress rehearsal on Tuesday morning, leading to the conclusion that it was “on track” for Thursday and that — assuming there are no changes — docking would be scheduled for Friday at around 4:30 a.m. ET.

“The main thing we’re watching over the next few days is the weather. You know we have to have the launch weather be ‘go’ and also ‘abort’ weather all along the abort ground track to protect the crew in the vehicle. So, we’re looking at both Thursday and Friday and looking at the weather over the next few days,” he said.

Launch Weather Officer Brian Cizek, from U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, explained that there is currently an 80% chance of favorable weather on Thursday and a 90% chance of favorable weather on Friday.

Click here to read the full article on Fox News.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins returns safely to Earth after six months in space
LinkedIn
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is helped out of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft

BY TORI B. POWELL,

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, 42, safely returned to Earth on Saturday after living aboard the International Space Station for six months, according to NASA. Rubins, along with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov, arrived southeast of the town Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, in a parachute landing at 10:55 a.m. local time.

The crew served as Expedition 63-64 and began their mission on October 14 last year.

Rubins became the first person to ever sequence DNA in outer space on her first spaceflight, Expedition 48/49 in 2016. During her latest 185-day mission, Rubins conducted “hundreds of hours” of International Space Station research, including work on the Cardinal Heart experiment which studies the effects of gravity and cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue levels and could further knowledge of heart problems on Earth, NASA reported. Her research also included studying DNA sequencing and microbiology studies.

Click here to read the full article on CBS News.

Why Mars? The fascination with exploring the red planet
LinkedIn
A rendering of the planet Mars

By Ashley Strickland of CNN

The mystique of Mars is one that humans can’t seem to resist. The red planet has easily captured our interest for centuries, heavily featured in science fiction books and films and the subject of robotic exploration since the 1960s.

In February, three spacecraft arrived at Mars after departing from different launch points on Earth in July. These myriad missions seek to understand our planetary neighbor and unlock the secrets of its past to prepare for future exploration.
The three missions — China’s Tianwen-1, the United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe and NASA’s Perseverance rover — took advantage of an alignment between Mars and Earth that occurs every 26 months, allowing for quicker and more efficient trips when the two planets are on the same side of the sun.
The Hope Probe will stay in orbit for a Martian year — equivalent to 687 days on Earth — to gather data about Mars’ atmosphere.
Tianwen-1, whose name means “Quest for Heavenly Truth,” is orbiting the planet before landing a rover on the surface, with the hope that it can gather important information about the Martian soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere and signs of water.
The Perseverance rover is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars and will collect samples to be returned to Earth by future missions.
Perseverance also carries the names of nearly 11 million people etched on three silicon chips. She is a robotic scientist exploring Mars on behalf of humanity and is able to share what she sees and hears through 23 cameras, including video, and two microphones.
If three missions arriving at Mars within days of each other seems excessive, imagine explorers seeing Earth for the first time and wanting to understand all aspects of its past, climate, water, geology and life systems. It takes time and different capabilities to explore aspects of an entire planet to know the real story.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock
The genetic mistakes that could shape our species
LinkedIn
a genetic strand

By Zaria Gorvett

He Jiankui seemed nervous.

At the time, he was an obscure researcher working at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China. But he had been working on a top-secret project for the last two years – and he was about to take to the podium at the International Summit on Human Genome Editing to announce the results. There was a general buzz of excitement in the air. The audience looked on anxiously. People started filming on their phones.

He had made the first genetically modified babies in the history of humankind. After 3.7 billion years of continuous, undisturbed evolution by natural selection, a life form had taken its innate biology into its own hands. The result was twin baby girls who were born with altered copies of a gene known as CCR5, which the scientist hoped would make them immune to HIV.

But things were not as they seemed.

“I was kind of drawn to him for the first five or six minutes, he seemed very candid,” says Hank Greely, a professor of law at Stanford University and expert in medical ethics, who watched the conference live over the internet in November 2018. “And then as he went on, I got more and more suspicious.”

A genetic invention

In the years since, it’s become clear that He’s project was not quite as innocent as it might sound. He had broken laws, forged documents, misled the babies’ parents about any risks and failed to do adequate safety testing. The whole endeavour left many experts aghast – it was described as “monstrous”, “amateurish” and “profoundly disturbing” – and the culprit is now in prison.

However, arguably the biggest twist were the mistakes. It turns out that the babies involved, Lulu and Nana, have not been gifted with neatly edited genes after all. Not only are they not necessarily immune to HIV, they have been accidentally endowed with versions of CCR5 that are entirely made up – they likely do not exist in any other human genome on the planet. And yet, such changes are heritable – they could be passed on to their children, and children’s children, and so on.

In fact, there have been no shortage of surprises in the field. From the rabbits altered to be leaner that inexplicably ended up with much longer tongues to the cattle tweaked to lack horns that were inadvertently endowed with a long stretch of bacterial DNA in their genomes (including some genes that confer antibiotic resistance, no less) – its past is riddled with errors and misunderstandings.

More recently, researchers at the Francis Crick Institute in London warned that editing the genetics of human embryos can lead to unintended consequences. By analysing data from previous experiments, they found that approximately 16% had accidental mutations that would not have been picked up via standard tests.

Why are these mistakes so common? Can they be overcome? And how could they affect future generations?

Read the full article at BBC.com

WITI Summit, June 22-24, VIRTUAL
LinkedIn
The WITI logo

The WITI Summit, June 22-24 in a VIRTUAL form, is the premier global event for women in technology. Executives, entrepreneurs and technology thought leaders from around the world convene online to build and expand strong connections in a welcoming environment and to foster women’s success in all technology related fields and organizations. 3,000+ attendees from 6 continents. 

 

Use code CBPART21 for $100 discount off the prevailing cost of a full 3-day pass. 

 

Click Here 

‘Monkeydactyl’: Scientists discover Jurassic era flying reptile with oldest opposed thumbs
LinkedIn
A reconstruction of how the K. antipollicatus used the opposite pollex. She animals are seen with bat-like wings

By Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY

Mammals will have to take a seat in history books after a group of international scientists discovered a flying reptile with the oldest recorded opposing pollex – commonly known as a thumb.

In a report released Monday, scientists announced the finding of the ‘Monkeydactyl’ that lived 160 million years ago in a forest ecosystem in China during the Jurassic era.

Nicknamed the ‘Monkeydactyl’ by a friend of one of the report’s authors, the species is a pterosaur and scientifically known as Kunpengopterus antipollicatus. Pterosaurs were the first known vertebrates to evolve powered flight, according to the report.

The fossil was found in China in September 2019, with both hands having thumbs preserved in an opposed way, according to report co-author Fion Waisum Ma.

‘The one who causes fear’:Newly discovered species of dinosaur was a terrifying beast

One of the largest animals ever to walk the Earth:Fossils of oldest titanosaur discovered in Argentina

Ma, a doctoral student at the University of Birmingham, said researchers used CT scans to enlarge the hands and look at anatomical features on the computer because of the small size of the fossil.

“The finding of the opposed thumbs isn’t something that happened after its death,” Ma said. “This discovery means opposed thumbs first appeared on Earth 160 million years in a flying reptile.”

Click here to read the full article on USA Today.

Earliest Homo Populations in Africa Had Primitive Ape-Like Brains – Just Half the Size of Today’s Humans
LinkedIn
Skulls of early Homo from Georgia with an ape-like brain (left) and from Indonesia with a human-like brain (right).

By UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH, Sci-Tech Daily

Modern humans are fundamentally different from our closest living relatives, the great apes: We live on the ground, walk on two legs and have much larger brains. The first populations of the genus Homo emerged in Africa about 2.5 million years ago. They already walked upright, but their brains were only about half the size of today’s humans.

 

These earliest Homo populations in Africa had primitive ape-like brains – just like their extinct ancestors, the australopithecines. So when and where did the typical human brain evolve?

CT comparisons of skulls reveal modern brain structures
An international team led by Christoph Zollikofer and Marcia Ponce de León from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Zurich (UZH) has now succeeded in answering these questions. “Our analyses suggest that modern human brain structures emerged only 1.5 to 1.7 million years ago in African Homo populations,” Zollikofer says. The researchers used computed tomography to examine the skulls of Homo fossils that lived in Africa and Asia 1 to 2 million years ago. They then compared the fossil data with reference data from great apes and humans.

Skull of early Homo from Dmanisi, Georgia showing internal structure of the brain case, and inferred brain morphology.

Apart from the size, the human brain differs from that of the great apes particularly in the location and organization of individual brain regions. “The features typical to humans are primarily those regions in the frontal lobe that are responsible for planning and executing complex patterns of thought and action, and ultimately also for language,” notes first author Marcia Ponce de León. Since these areas are significantly larger in the human brain, the adjacent brain regions shifted further back.

Typical human brain spread rapidly from Africa to Asia
The first Homo populations outside Africa – in Dmanisi in what is now Georgia – had brains that were just as primitive as their African relatives. It follows, therefore, that the brains of early humans did not become particularly large or particularly modern until around 1.7 million years ago. However, these early humans were quite capable of making numerous tools, adapting to the new environmental conditions of Eurasia, developing animal food sources, and caring for group members in need of help.

Click here to read the full article on Sci-Tech Daily.

Neuralink: We Got a Monkey to Play Pong Using Only Its Mind
LinkedIn
A monkey playing pong on the computer while sucking a smoothie out of a straw in front of a forest backdrop

By Alyse Stanley, Gizmodo

Neuralink, the secretive neuroscience startup co-founded by Elon Musk, has been even more quiet than usual these days. That is, until this week when it released a YouTube video of a monkey appearing to play the classic video game Pong with its mind.

The video stars Pager, a 9-year-old macaque monkey who had a Neuralink implanted in either side of his brain roughly six weeks prior, according to the narrator. And apparently, he loves Pong. Before he learned how to play the game with his mind, though, researchers first conditioned him to use a joystick, rewarding him with “a tasty banana smoothie” through a straw whenever he moved an on-screen cursor to certain lit-up squares on a grid.

While he was maneuvering the joystick and happily slurping up his smoothie, the Neuralink devices in his brain recorded his brain activity, monitoring more than 2,000 electrodes implanted in the region of Pager’s motor cortex that controls hand and arm movements. Researchers could also interface with the devices in real-time by pairing their phones via Bluetooth.

That Neuralink data was then fed into a “decoder algorithm” to train it to predict Pager’s intended hand movements in real-time based on which neurons were firing. Following a short calibration period, the decoder understood Pager’s neural patterns well enough that the joystick was no longer needed. The narrator says that even with it disconnected, Pager continues to move the cursor around using only his mind. He then appears to play a game of so-called MindPong with no joystick insight.

“A monkey is literally playing a video game telepathically using a brain chip!!” Musk said in a tweet sharing the video Thursday.

More than four million people have watched it since then, and it’s currently among the top 10 trending videos on YouTube. If you’re interested, Neuralink also shared a video showing what the raw data behind Pager’s neural activity looks like while he’s busy playing.

Musk went on to discuss future plans for Neuralink’s devices in a series of tweets, echoing the video’s narrator that the ultimate goal for this technology is to enable people with paralysis to operate their computer or phone via their mind.

The initial versions of the device “will enable someone with paralysis to use a smartphone with their mind faster than someone using thumbs,” Musk wrote. “Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again.”

Back in August, Neuralink showed a live demo of the Neuralink implant in action, though on pigs rather than monkeys.

“It’s like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires,” Musk said at the time.

Click here to read the full article on Gizmodo.

Fermilab Experiment Hints at New Fundamental Force of Nature
LinkedIn
nad over head photo of Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois

By Ryan Whitwam

Scientists working at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois have made some of the most important discoveries in physics over the years, including the existence of the top quark and characterizing the neutrino. Now, the team working on Fermilab’s Muon g−2 experiment has reported a tantalizing hint of a new type of physics, according to the BBC. If confirmed, this would become the fifth known fundamental force in the universe.

Our current understanding of particle physics is called the Standard Model, which we know is an incomplete picture of the universe. Concepts like the Higgs boson and dark energy don’t fully integrate with the Standard Model, and the Muon g−2 might eventually help us understand why. The key to that breakthrough could be the behavior of the muon, a subatomic particle similar to an electron. The muon has a negative charge, but it’s much more massive. So, it spins like a magnet, which is what points to a possible new branch of physics.

PHOTO: ExtremeTech

The roots of the Muon g−2 experiment go back to work done at CERN in the late 1950s. However, the instruments available at the time were too imprecise to accurately measure the “g-factor” of the muon, which describes its rate of gyration. The Standard Model predicts that muons wobble in a certain way, but the 14-meter magnetic accelerator at the heart of Muon g−2 shows that muons have a different g-factor. That might not sound significant, but even a tiny “anomalous magnetic dipole moment,” as scientists call it, could indicate something mysterious has affected the particles.

We currently know of four fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force (nuclear cohesion), and the weak force (radioactive decay). Whatever is causing muons to misbehave in Muon g−2 could be a fifth force, but we don’t know what it is. Even if the team can confirm the result, we won’t necessarily know what this new force of nature does aside from perturbing muons. That part will take much more work. Theoretical physicists have speculated that the new force could be associated with an undiscovered subatomic particle like the Z-prime boson or leptoquark.

Read the full article at ExtremeTech.

Mars helicopter Ingenuity unlocks its rotor blades to prepare for 1st flight on Red Planet
LinkedIn
Blades on the Ingenuity Mars helicopter during the unlocking process, as seen on Apr. 8, 2021

By Meghan Bartels

The Mars helicopter Ingenuity has unlocked its two rotor blades as preparations continue for the vehicle’s first flight, due to occur no earlier than Sunday (April 11).

Ingenuity arrived on Mars Feb. 18 along with NASA’s Perseverance rover, having made the long trek out to the Red Planet tucked inside the rover’s belly. As of April 4, the little chopper has parted ways with Perseverance, preparing to take to the skies during a month-long test campaign. If Ingenuity’s Sunday sortie is successful, it will be the first powered, guided flight on another planet.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU 

“The blades of glory, aka rotor blades of the #MarsHelicopter, have been unlocked and are ready for testing,” NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California wrote in a tweet posted early today (April 8). “Next, we’ll do a slow-speed spin-up of the blades for the first time on the Martian surface.”

Ingenuity’s flight preparation process has been slow and cautious, in part because the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) helicopter made the journey to Mars in a folded configuration, tucked behind a protective shield.

After the rover dropped that shield and drove to the airfield, the helicopter’s personnel had to order the device to unpack and slowly unfold itself. Then Perseverance had to set Ingenuity directly on the Martian surface and drive away, allowing the helicopter’s solar panels to begin supporting the aircraft.

Unlocking and testing Ingenuity’s blades mark the last major milestones before the helicopter attempts to fly. NASA officials have said they will test the blades first at 50 and then at 2,400 revolutions per minute before the helicopter attempts to fly.

Read the full article at Space.com.

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Lumen

Lumen

Verizon

Verizon

DISM Statement

#Stopasianhate

Upcoming Events

  1. Commercial UAV Expo Americas, Las Vegas
    September 7, 2021 - September 9, 2021
  2. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
  3. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  4. HACU’s 35th Annual Conference
    October 30, 2021 - November 1, 2021
  5. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. Commercial UAV Expo Americas, Las Vegas
    September 7, 2021 - September 9, 2021
  2. 2021 ERG & Council Conference
    September 15, 2021 - September 17, 2021
  3. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  4. HACU’s 35th Annual Conference
    October 30, 2021 - November 1, 2021
  5. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022