Teslas Cybertruck is made of the same stainless steel alloy that SpaceX is using for Starship – TechCrunch

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the much-anticipated Cybertruck electric pickup in LA on Thursday, and the vehicle is obviously getting a lot of attention for its eye-catching and unique design. It looks more like a rover designed for space exploration than a truck and the analogy in this case is particularly fitting, because the Cybertruck is clad in the same stainless steel alloy that Musks other company SpaceX will use as the skin of its forthcoming Starship spaceship.

It is, it is literally bulletproof to a nine millimeter handgun, Musk said onstage during the unveiling. Thats how strong the skin is its ultra-hard, cold-rolled stainless steel alloy that weve developed. Were going to be using the same alloy in the Starship rocket, and in the Cybertruck.

Musk had previously revealed at an event unveiling the full-height Starship Mk1 prototype that it would go with stainless steel for the outer shell, with an additional glass tile covering layer for the half of the space craft that will endure the highest heat from re-entry (the ship is designed to essentially belly-flop down through Earths atmosphere prior to landing). The Super Heavy booster that the Starship will ride atop during its exit will be clad entirely in stainless steel. The reasoning for going with that material was a combination of cost and effectiveness, as its actually remarkably good at withstanding and shedding high heat.

Using the same stainless steel alloy across both Tesla and SpaceX will obviously provide some cost efficiencies especially if the Cybertruck manages to become a high-volume production vehicle (unlikely because of its controversial design, but perhaps possible based on the economics if Tesla can stick to the price points it revealed onstage). Theres another way that the Cybertruck could benefit SpaceXs work, and Elon alluded to it on Twitter ahead of the event Mars will need ground transportation, too.

Yes, Musk said in a tweet that the pressurized edition of the Cybertruck will be the official truck of Mars. As always with Elon, sometimes its difficult to suss out exactly where the line is between jokes and actual plans with what he tweets, but I think in this instance he actually means this literally, at least at this stage in the game.

A Cybertruck rover for astronaut use on Mars could theoretically benefit both Tesla and SpaceX because of efficiencies in cross-production and engineering, and as the stainless steel alloy case illustrates, one of the big benefits of designing things for space has always been that the resulting technology often turns out to have really beneficial applications on Earth, too.

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Teslas Cybertruck is made of the same stainless steel alloy that SpaceX is using for Starship - TechCrunch

What If the Space Race Had Never Ended? A Q&A With Garrett Reisman – USC Viterbi School of Engineering

In the alternate universe of For All Mankind, the Nixon administration seeks to demonstrate that American women should explore space alongside men. Photo Credit: Apple TV+.

Garrett Reisman, who joined the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in June 2018, has been a NASA astronaut and director of space operations at SpaceX. But in addition to his professional and academic career, Reisman is no stranger to Hollywood, having been an advisor on several space-themed productions, including last summers Ad Astra and Apple TV+s newly released For All Mankind.

Created by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander, Star Trek: the Next Generation), For All Mankind posits the question: What if the global space race never ended?

With input from Reisman, the new series explores an alternate history where the Soviets are the first to land on the moon and what this means for the future (or, in this case, the past) of human space exploration.

Heres some insights from Reisman on the new show, which debuted on November 1, 2019.

Garrett Reisman/ Photo Credit: NASA

One day, I received a call from Ron Moore who said that he was thinking about a new TV show about space and wanted to pick my brain and bounce a few ideas off me.

I have tremendous respect for Ron. As a big fan of Star Trek, Outlander and Battlestar Galactica, I definitely consider myself a Ron Moore fanboy, so I was thrilled. He came down to SpaceX one day, and I gave him a tour of our rocket factory which was a lot of fun for both of us; and then we had lunch in the SpaceX caf.

Over lunch he said that he had two ideas for the new show. One would be a period drama set at NASA in the 1970s. Kinda like a Mad Men but with less advertising, much wider lapels and more space stuff. I thought that sounded cool, but then he told me his other idea an alternate history where the space race kept going at the same pace we experienced during the Apollo era. What would have been different in the world? Where would we be today? My eyes lit up, and I thought it was an amazing premise for a TV series.

I told him that the Soviets were actually much closer to attempting a moon landing than most people know. I described seeing prototype flight hardware for a lunar lander in a large dusty hall in Moscow, and I told him that Alexei Leonov, the first spacewalker, had been selected to command the mission. Only the failure of their monster N1 rocket prevented them from seriously challenging the U.S. in the race to put a man on the moon.

Soon thereafter, he pitched the alternate history version to Apple, and they liked it too.

Yeah, being an astronaut has been very good to me! For example, there was the one day that I got to be a Colonial Marine on Battlestar Galactica.

Let me explain. My Expedition 16 commander, Peggy Whitson, and I are big fans of that TV show. Before a mission, the behavioral support group at NASA will offer to arrange celebrity interviews for the crew of the Space Station as a morale boost. When my turn came, instead of naming Scarlett Johansson or Steve Carell or someone like that, I asked to have a video conference with Ron Moore and David Eick, the creators and producers of Battlestar. When we got back to Earth, Ron was kind enough to invite us up to Vancouver to visit the set.

I got to meet some really cool people (thats Ron Moore in the yellow shirt).

Garrett Reisman with the cast of Battlestar Galactica and series creator, Ronald D. Moore. Photos courtesy: Garrett Reisman.

I was having so much fun that I stayed on the set until 1 a.m. This was a bit of a problem since I had a 6 a.m. flight out of Seattle. I drove through the night, didnt bother to check in at the hotel and just went straight to the airport. About 24 hours later, after connecting through Houston and Dallas I found myself in a bar in New York City, when it hit me suddenly that trip used to take me about 10 minutes.

Well, I think I would have gone further into space than low-Earth orbit. Dont get me wrong, flying on the shuttle and the space station was incredible, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have those experiences along with amazing crew-mates to share them with. But walking on the moonor Mars? I dont want to seem greedy, but thats got to be even better.

In fact, the desire to do more, to go further and faster is one of the main reasons why I eventually left NASA and started working at SpaceX. Im proud of all SpaceX has accomplished, and in part due to this companys success, other private companies and NASA itself are becoming increasingly ambitious, and I think that we as a country are on a better trajectory today with regard to furthering the cause of human spaceflight then we were just a decade ago.

For All Mankind imagines a different 1969 where the Russians are the first to land on the moon. Photo Credit: Apple TV+.

Theres always the chance that another space race will occur between us and China, for example, motivated by geopolitical conflict just like Apollo, but I dont think thats necessary. I think that all thats required is success. If we are successful in returning to the moon, or better yet, sending astronauts to Mars, and we capture the public imagination, then perhaps we will find the political will to increase government spending on human spaceflight. Most people dont realize that we are spending only about one half of one percent of our federal budget on NASA. We could double that and still only be spending one penny of every taxpayer dollar on this investment in our future. That shouldnt be so hard to justify.

In our alternate universe, the Nixon administration feels the need to demonstrate that American women should explore space alongside men. I hope people tune-in to see the series of events to shift the history I dont want to spoil the moment, which is pretty great.

In reality, a number of women were selected and tested as potential astronaut candidates as part of the Lovelace Medical Clinics Women in Space Program in the early 1960s. This privately-funded project made a good case for including women in the U.S. space program, but unfortunately due to the times, this would not be the case until much later.

Hmmmthat would probably be when I was asked what women with long hair do while performing a spacewalk. Do they use a Scrunchie or a hair clip? Pony tail?

This was a difficult question for me to answer. If you know me, or even have just seen a picture of me, you know why. Fortunately, I was able to phone a friend and get the right answer to this question. Which, if you are curious, is: pony tail.

During my training for my flight on the International Space Station, I spent over two years living in Russia, and I got to learn the language and get to know the Russian people and their culture. So while For All Mankind is framed from the American point of view, my experiences in Russia really helped me contribute to that aspect of the show.

One particular serendipitous aspect was the fact that I got to know the real Alexi Leonov quite well along with his daughter who lived for a while in Los Angeles. Alexi was unwell during the filming of our TV show and would pass away just before it aired, but I really enjoyed telling his daughter that her father was the first man on the moon, in our show anyway, and last summer we watched the trailer together which depicted Alexi stepping on the moon. She told me that she would let her father know, and I hope that he was able to get a good chuckle out of it.

2020. Both SpaceX and Boeing are getting very close to flying NASA astronauts on the Crew Dragon and the Starliner, respectively, under NASAs Commercial Crew Program. Were going to be back in business and better than ever within months from now.

Thats true, but everyone involved in For All Mankind wants to make it seem as real as possible to the viewer so that makes it really fun for me and challenging too! Fortunately, Im not the only technical advisor on the show. Michael and Denise Okuda have been helping Ron Moore out with technical advice going back to his Star Trek days, and they have been very helpful on this show too.

But I did push for a few things that I thought were important. Its hard to tell you exactly what they were, since these episodes havent aired yet, and I dont want to let any spoilers slip out. But when you watch the episodes near the end of season one, check out the orbital mechanics!

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What If the Space Race Had Never Ended? A Q&A With Garrett Reisman - USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Point Counterpoint: Under President Trump, the universe is the limit – UW Badger Herald

Under the Trump administration, space exploration has reached unprecedented heights. President Donald Trump has modernized our space policy to eliminate the out-of-date policies previously in place. From establishing the Space Force to planning a future mission to Mars, its clear that Trump has a bold vision for the U.S. in space.

Under the Obama administration, our space exploration programs made little progress. The administration cut funding for numerous space programs, leading to decommissioned crafts and missions. As a result, NASA and Americas space progress failed to reach its full potential. Not to mention, President Barack Obama delayed the journey to Mars date back to the 2030s, essentially putting it on the back burner.

Meanwhile, Trump has shown unparalleled leadership when it comes to space policy as he plans to return astronauts to the moon by the year 2024. Moreover, Trump has bigger ambitions than just the moon he wants the moon to be a launch pad to send Americans to Mars. In the presidents own words, The moon is not so exciting, and for the first time ever, an American president has set realistic sights on sending Americans to Mars.

To do this, he plans to rejuvenate companies in the private sector, such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, owned by Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos respectively. By leasing the NASA space facilities to these private firms, the journey to Mars will be significantly accelerated.

Science politicization, funding fights leave researchers in limboFor University of Wisconsin astrophysics postdoctoral researcher Adam Schaefer, grant funding is absolutely critical. Schaefer studies galaxy evolution from a Read

The president also expressed his desire to get astronauts to Mars on Twitter.

The president recently said NASA has been making tremendous progress toward Mars. The Moon to Mars journey seems more attainable now than ever before.

In addition to Mars, Trumps Space Policy Directive-4 sets the framework for the Space Force, which will be a new brand under the U.S. Air Force. Vice President Mike Pence has long been a champion of space exploration and recently announced the new U.S. Space Command.

The United States Space Force will ensure that our nation is prepared to defend our people, defend our interests, and to defend our values in the vast expanse of space, Pence said.

UW astrobotanist paves way for deep space explorationFor the last decade, astrobotanist Simon Gilroy and the Gilroy Lab have spearheaded the University of Wisconsins research on outer Read

The Space Force will send a strong message globally that the U.S. has the upper hand when it comes to military in space. The Trump administration has plans to train next-gen warfighters to compete in this new domain by maximizing fighting capability, while also minimizing bureaucracy.

Despite the fact that Trump has rebuilt our military to the strongest it has ever been, he has shown no signs of complacency with his vision to expand the American military into outer space. As our adversaries become increasingly competitive in this realm, it is increasingly important for the U.S. to establish a presence in space, as it could be a significant threat to our country in the future.

Trumps space policy will bring together both the Department of Defense and our intelligence community to take massive strides in our space capabilities. Space exploration has the potential to be one of the great legacies of the Trump presidency. No man has been to the moon in more than 40 years, and Trump has promised that the next person on the moon will be an American woman. Its clear that the president is on a mission to protect the people of this nation, and under Trump, the universe is the limit.

Christian Karabas ([emailprotected]) is a freshman majoring in real estate and finance. He is also the outreach director of the College Republicans of UW-Madison.

Read about the College Democrats views on space policy here.

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Point Counterpoint: Under President Trump, the universe is the limit - UW Badger Herald

Space Wars: Are We Ready for Intergalactic Conflict? – PCMag

The US plan for a so-called Space Force made headlines earlier this year, but efforts to establish intergalactic rules of engagement date back to at least 1967 with the Outer Space Treaty (OST).

The OST was a "fairly ambiguous" agreement, according to Dr. Joan S. Johnson-Freese, a professor at the US Naval War College, given our evolving knowledge of space at the time. But as our capabilities, and those of other countries, have improved, potential global conflict could be fought on off-world battlegrounds.

Ahead of a speech this week on national security at Yale University, we spoke to Dr. Johnson-Freese about the future of space exploration, the role of China, and why she has her eye on Alpha Centauri. Here are edited and condensed excerpts of our conversation; her comments are her own and do not reflect the opinions of the US government, Defense Department, or US Navy.

Dr. Johnson-Freese, I came across your research while interviewing Dr. Rachel Bronson, president and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. She indicated that the Doomsday Clock status of global destruction depends partly on staying out of space wars. There are checks in place, specifically the Outer Space Treaty (OST), could you summarize this for us? [JJF] So it is important to put the Outer Space Treaty in context, in terms of when it was signed (1967) and the current environment. In 1967, there were very few countries with space capabilities, particularly launch. The provisions of the treaty were largely drawn up in fairly ambiguous terms. How, for example, do you define the "peaceful" uses of outer space concept so heavily referenced in the OST? Or protect the interests of the US/Soviet Union?

But the situation is very different today, almost 30 years after the end of the Cold War. Yes, today there are many countries with launch capabilities or access to commercial launch capabilities, complicating the provisions. Also, the OST is based on international law, and there are no enforcement capabilities. Actually in international law there are more provisions that address potential conflicts in space AFTER it begins, than those for providing "checks" against conflict.

So the OST, in my opinion, provides some parameters for state actions in spaceno weapons of mass destructionbut even that depends on how WMD is defined, and no apportionment of heavenly bodies, but all in terms that can be debated by any two lawyers.

Dr. Joan S. Johnson-Freese

'No apportionment of heavenly bodies' means no nation can say 'we own the moon' and start parceling out real estate contracts. But what about mining asteroids?The US Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, to spur private aerospace competitiveness and entrepreneurship, said US companies could mine asteroids for profit, [and] many European space lawyers felt this violated the Outer Space Treaty.

For clarity, Article IV of the treaty bans WMDs from orbit. It doesn't ban one being launched from, or into, space?Right, and as I said before, it doesn't define what a weapon of mass destruction is. Would that include, for example, the "Rods from God" concept that has floated around for years?

The rumored US Air Force's Project Thor kinetic bombardment?Yes. The "Rods from God" would send titanium rods to Earth from space with the force of a nuclear weapon, but without the nuclear fallout. Isn't that a WMD?

Along those lines, the most recent United Nations Conference on Disarmament, China and Russia showed a willingness for a treaty to ban space weapons, but the US has not entered negotiations. Can you help us understand the US position?The Russian-Chinese proposal is gratuitous, in my opinion, in that it only bans types of space weapons that they don't haveor at least that they aren't admitting to. Further, while many countries have voted in support of the Russian-Chinese proposal, they may well have felt able to do so knowing the US would veto it, thereby making their vote "safe"they could rhetorically support a ban, while knowing that the particular ban in question would not go through.

Also, on a side note, in 1978 the US and Soviets were talking about banning anti-satellite weapons (ASATs). The No. 1 item on the Soviet list of ASATs was...the space shuttle. Their rationale was that the robotic arm gave it the capability to pick items out of orbit and put them into the shuttle cargo bay.

You co-authored the research published in June that said 'the United States and several other countries appear to be on a path toward the overt weaponization of space,' and proposed amendments to the treaty 'as a way to slow down or abate what seems a fast-moving policy train.' Could you summarize these suggestions for us?I would not want to amend the treaty as opening it offers too great a possibility of scrapping it for those countries, including the US, that would see benefit in doing so. Instead, codicils could simply be added, pertaining to issues such as the prohibition of deliberately creating space debristhe No. 1 threat to space developmentand the long-term sustainability of the space environment for everyone's use. And keeping "safe" distances from other space objectsif an object gets any closer, intent can be inferred as unintentional but dangerous, or nefarious, and self defense is allowed. There are a number of "new" issues ripe for consideration, and areas where the institutionalization of transparency and confidence-building measures would be useful.

The big issue with the proposed Space Force is where it sits within the military structure. Can you speak to that?The issue is that space is primarily a "capability," though now it is also considered a warfighting domain. Traditionally space assets have been part of an information chainproviding critical command, control, communications, and intelligence information to give advantage to the military and prevail in conflicts. It's only recently that we've been thinking about space assets as more active than passivewith planetary defense, mining asteroids, and space weapons.

What checks are there in place against a trigger-happy leader of the free (or otherwise) world?Very few. Until recently, it was just common sense. The US worked very hard not to cross the Rubicon of overtly developing and potentially deploying space weapons, feeling that if the US weaponized space other countries would feel compelled to so the same. Now, Pentagon officials are openly talking about wanting to test a space weapon, under the rationale that weaponization is inevitable.

This is the neutral particle beam in orbit.Yes. The plan is to test that by 2023, apparently.

Let's get some backstory on you. After a PhD in Political Science and International Relations at Kent State University, you carved out a much-lauded academic career in national security affairs, including postings at the Maxwell Air Force Base; International Space University in France; the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Japan; and, since 2010, the US Naval War College. What inspired you to get into this field?It was totally serendipitous. I was a faculty member working on arms control at the University of Central Florida, the closest university to the Kennedy Space Center, and asked to host a visit by a (then) West German visitor, Dr. Hermann Strub. He was the head of their space program. He became a mentor and got me grants to work on US-Europe space cooperation issues.

In your role today at the US Naval War College, how much of your time do you spend on kinetic versus non-kinetic cyber warfare studies now, and when did you see that shift?There has been a clear shift in US policy toward the overt weaponization of spacespace warfare doctrine is now a fast moving train. That began in 2013 with the Chinese launch of a "space science" mission that the US saw as potential anti-satellite weapons to high altitudewhat we call the sanctuary orbit. Sadly, there is even less attention to diplomatic ways to address space issues than in the past.

As an expert on the Chinese space program, can you give us your insights into their progress?The difference between China and the US is the story of the tortoise and the hare. When the US is energized there's nothing stopping us. But the Chinese play a very long game; they've studied NASA's programs extensively. However, it's important to note they've not taken over the US in terms of space technology. I find that irritating when people assume that, because it's not true. But the Chinese are very aware of the prestige potential of space. With the dark side of the moon mission, they're very intent on getting into the record books. They realize that prestige translates into strategic influence.

And it's your opinion that they'll have a human lunar spaceflight program?Yes, in fact at one time I was convinced that the next voice transmission we hear from the moon would be in Mandarin. Now, however, I think there's a chance it will be Englishbut through a private company rather than NASA program.

Aside from national heroics, space is a fertile spot for innovation.Yes. My optimism right now is on the NewSpace development efforts, who are leading commercial space industry advocacy, as a key enabler to space settlement. Essentially there are two parallel trends in space going on right now: one is the potential for conflict, but the other is the development of space through the NewSpace companies. In my opinion, the private sector is doing the real cool, gee-whiz stuff right now. That's where the real innovation is taking place, and where we've had true breakthroughs in launch technology. Hopefully, they will influence the military in terms of not destroying the space environment.

Finally, there's a lot of talk about the moon and Mars, but where else are you looking in terms of space exploration innovation?I'm very interested in the plans to reach Alpha Centauri. The Breakthrough Starshot, part of the NewSpace wave, is a privately funded initiative that is trying to put together a multi-national, multi-disciplinary team to send the first spacecraftactually very small Star Chipsto Alpha Centauri, using a very high-power laser array to propel many Star Chips on their way using a solar sail, toward having one or more surviving the journey.

I've co-authored a paper called "Leaving Earth's Driveway," which is currently under review for publication. In that paper we explore moving beyond the same basic rocket technology we've been using since the 1950s, and moving into exciting areas like directed energy propulsion. Of course, even using this technology, it will still take us 20 years to get to Alpha Centauri. But at least we'll have moved out of "Earth's Driveway" and really start exploring our solar system, and beyond.

Dr. Joan S. Johnson-Freese will discuss her research at Yale University on Friday, Nov. 22 at noon.

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Space Wars: Are We Ready for Intergalactic Conflict? - PCMag

Washington DC Ground Transportation Service, Connect, Provides a List of the Top DC Tours to Take This Year – PRNewswire

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Washington DC is a must-see destination filled with rich history and amazing sites. There are many tours that can help you enjoy the monuments, buildings, and museums our nation's capital has to offer, so you don't miss a single thing. Washington DC ground transportationservice, Connect, provides a list of the top DC tours that you should take this year.

Monuments by Moonlight. The Monuments by Moonlight is a unique guided trolley tour that takes place at night. The unique view of some of the nation's most important monuments in the moonlight is something that will be remembered long after the trip is over.

The Capitol Building and Capitol Hill Walk.Capitol Hillis known for its captivating architecture and important role in the United States' government. Taking a tour of Capitol Hill lets you see the Capitol building up close and teaches you everything you need to know about its role in US history.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Air & Space. Washington DC offers guided tours of one of the nation's most popular museums. The Smithsonian is full of displays and collections about the history of aviation and space exploration, including a display of Buzz Aldrin's famous space suit and a model of the International Space Station.

African American History Tour. Washington DC is home to many important monuments and sites that honor African Americans. Some important sites you can see on the African American History Tour include: the former home of Fredrick Douglass, Howard University, monuments honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and more.

The Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Tour. The Politics & Pints tour is ideal for those looking to explore the rich history of DC while enjoying some entertainment with friends. After a thorough tour of the US Capitol and Capitol Hill, you will head down to some of the local bars to enjoy beer and chat with other tour goers about past and present American policies.

About Connect: For over 30 years, Connect Coach Bus Rental Washington DChas been providing clients with a unique, memorable, and reliable transportation experience. Offering the highest quality luxury vehicles, in addition to less formal options for everyday transportation, our professionals are ready to work with you to plan around your local or national travel events. Due to our first class-class service standards, we promise an unparalleled level of service that respects both your safety and your time.

SOURCE Connect


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Washington DC Ground Transportation Service, Connect, Provides a List of the Top DC Tours to Take This Year - PRNewswire

How Space Travel and Politics Will Shape Fashion in 2020 – Sourcing Journal

In fashion, the year 2020 not only represents the deadline for Greenpeaces Detox campaign to eliminate hazardous chemicals from clothing production, it will also be a year that brings global politics and space exploration to the runway, according to Lyst.

In the Year in Fashion 2019 report, the global fashion search platform peered into its crystal ball to identify five cultural trends that will influence fashion in 2020.

Heres a look at the next year in fashion.

Similar to Y2K, the year 2020 has been a source of inspiration for sci-fi storytellers for decades. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that fashion is feeling futuristic vibes too. Holographic fabrics, outerwear that mimics the look of space suits and otherworldy styling are among the trends Lyst has identified as trends to watch for Spring/Summer 2020.

S/S 2020 Louis Vuitton

Expect the fashion trend to lift off, Lyst said, when testing of SpaceXs reusable rocket and new human-crewed spacecrafts begin testing in 2020.

If you think the past three years of trade wars and Brexit have been turbulent for fashion, just wait until the 2020 U.S. presidential election cycle is in full swing. A turbulent political year, Lyst said, creates cultural tensions that affect consumer mindsets worldwide.

What those tensions will be is unknown, but now that cause fashion and fashion bearing political messages have become de rigueur on the runway and on high streets across the globe, expect to see designers voice their opinions on everything from equality to climate change.

With the upcoming U.S. elections, we predict to see even more political fashion statements from politicians, brands and retailers in 2020, Lyst said.

Every Olympics shines a spotlight on the host city, but what Sochi, Vancouver and even Athens lacked in style, Tokyo will more than make up for it. At least 600,000 overseas spectators are expected to visit Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic games, meaning they will have firsthand exposure to the citys unique style subcultures.

Tokyo street style

With all eyes on Japan 2020, prepare to be inspired by bold Harajuku street style and cult Japanese labels, Lyst said, naming Sacai, Undercover, Visvim and Neighborhood as among some of the most covetable names. Searches for Japanese brands, Lyst said, increased 8 percent this year.

The days of Jacquemus Le Chiquito bag, the 4.25-inch handbag that went from being meme fashion to becoming a coveted It item, may be numbered.

Jacquemus Le Chiquito bag was the It bag of 2019.

Following several seasons that saw handbag sizes shrink by 40 percent, Lyst predicts fashion will swing back to oversized handbags. Specifically, the supersized shopper from the early 00s. Lyst named soft leather styles by brands like Little Liffner and The Row as bags to watch.

While 2019 saw designers like Pyer Moss and Molly Goddard break out from flying under the radar, and heritage brands like Bottega Veneta enjoy a revival, a new class of brands is poised to emerge.

Based on fast-growing search terms over the past six months, Lyst suggests that 2020 will be a big year for ultra-feminine labels from Copenhagen like Rotate Birger Christensen, which has the party dress down pat, and Cecilie Bahnsen, a purveyor of peasant and baby doll dresses.

S/S 2020 Cecilie Bahnsen

Brands with a streetwear element factor in, too. Italian streetwear brand GCDS, minimalist label ALYX and Marine Serre, which got a stamp of approval by Beyonce this year when she wore the designers crescent top, leggings and boots to a basketball game, are picking up momentum, Lyst reported.

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How Space Travel and Politics Will Shape Fashion in 2020 - Sourcing Journal

Visualized: The Race to Invest in the Space Economy – Visual Capitalist

Humans have long viewed outer space as the final frontier.

Our thirst for exploration has brought whole nations together to create more advanced technologiesall in the pursuit of discovering the outer reaches of the universe.

Todays infographic from ProcureAM highlights the exciting journey humans have taken into outer space, and the economic boom across industries as a result of this quest for discovery.

With an ever-expanding universe, how far have we gone?

Humans have been fascinated with space for millennia, using the planets and stars to navigate, keep time, and discover scientific facts about the universe.

Since the 1960s, humans have also been traveling into space and pushing the limits of our technological and physical boundaries with each excursion.

A Brief History: Humans in Space

Nations around the world have used these trips and technological milestones to drastically improve life.

Reusable rockets and advanced satellite technology enable greater innovation on Earth through higher-quality broadband internet, 5G cellular networks, and the Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices.

Three major sectors are dominating the global space economy today:

Can lower costs, new technology, and increased commercial activity make space the next trillion-dollar industry?

Investments in space-related industries have shot up in recent years, rising from US$1.1 billion in 2000-2005 up to $10.2 billion between 2012-2018.

This meteoric growth is due to fewer barriers in the space industry, which was previously restricted to governments or the ultra-wealthy. Private sector companies are responsible for much of the growth. Since 2000, Goldman Sachs estimates that $13.3 billion has been invested into newly launched space startups.

These companies, backed by titans such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, are pledging to support innovations from the practical to the fantastical, to boldly go where none have gone before:

And with recent technological advancements, these goals are edging closer to reality.

For example, take space tourism. While costs are still astronomical, Blue Origin and Virgin Atlantic are banking on the idea of the first space vacations taking place as early as 2020and growing in popularity from there.

Advances in satellite and rocket technology mean that costs are declining across the entire commercial space economy.

Because of this, the global space industry may jump light years ahead in the next few decades.

For the first time since our journey to the stars began, the final frontier is well within our grasp.

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Visualized: The Race to Invest in the Space Economy - Visual Capitalist

SETI Institute in the news October 31 – November 6, 2019 – SETI Institute

Smart Gloves May Give Space Explorersa Helping Hand

The future of space exploration may well involve the use of drones to reach places that are difficult or dangerous for human explorers. Now the latest innovation in spacesuit technology would allow astronauts to control these robotic explorers with simple hand gestures. The NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP), SETI Institute, Mars Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, Collins Aerospace, and Ntention announced their collaborative efforts have resulted in a successful field test of the "astronaut smart glove." Ntention, a Norwegian startup company, developed the smart glove technology and began collaborating with HMP after SETI Institute senior planetary scientist Pascal Lee saw a demonstration. Several outlets, including Inverse, covered the story:

"Astronauts on the Moon or Mars will want to fly drones for various reasons," said Lee. "For instance, to collect a sample that is out of reach or that needs to be isolated from contamination. Or to assist in a search and rescue operation. [W]e have been looking with NASA at how robotic flyers might assist astronauts in a variety of science and exploration tasks, including surveying, mapping, sampling, scouting, fetching, and inspecting."

Astronauts, limited by the mobility restrictions of protective pressurized suits, may find exploration less cumbersome and dangerous with the help of smart glove controlled drones:

"A smart glove-equipped spacesuit could be a solution," said Lee. "With it, astronauts could easily control a range of robotic assets, making science and exploration operations on the Moon, Mars and at other destinations more effective and productive."

How does one craft an interstellar message? Thats a question researchers have been working on since the early days of the SETI field. The Guardian ran a piece recently covering the challenges and insights that have arisen over the years:

The planetary astronomer Frank Drake undertook the first scientific attempt to determine whether we are alone in the galaxy at the Green Bank radio observatory in 1960. For four months, he spent several hours a day observing two nearby stars for any signs of intelligent life.

He came up empty-handed Still, Drake recognized the nascent search for extraterrestrial intelligence had a glaring blind spot. If we ever did hear from an alien, how would we go about designing a response?

For the next decade, Drake and some of the world's pre-eminent scientists devoted considerable intellectual energy to solving this problem.

Frank Drake, the creator of the Drake Equation, is frequently regarded as the father of SETI science for his pioneering early experiments in the field. Today he serves as Chair Emeritus on the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute, and the SETI Institute continues to explore this challenge:

Tomorrow, our messages will be even more sophisticated. The Seti Institute's Earthling project, for instance, is amassing a database of sounds submitted by users around the world, which will be electronically remixed to create unique songs that try to capture human music as a gestalt then broadcast into space.

You can learn more about the Earthling project and the creative behind it, composer and SETI Institute artist-in-residence Felipe Perez Santiago, at SETI.org.

Dr. Avi Loeb, a Harvard professor of astronomy, has suggested that alien life might be hiding quite close to home. Loeb thinks the surface of Earth's moon might be a prime target for researchers looking for extraterrestrial microbes. Lacking an atmosphere to destroy incoming meteors meteors that could contain alien life and because there is no geological activity, the surface of the moon is relatively pristine. Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, weighed in on the idea in a recent piece featured in the Boston University News Service:

"One possibility is that life may have slammed into the moon from some other [planet], but if it was coming from farther away than our solar system, it becomes very difficult," said Shostak.

Biological organisms may be unable to survive the harshness of space in their journey across the universe to the moon, explained Shostak. "The desiccation, all the water would either be frozen or just escape as gas from the rock."

Then theres the space radiation, which would break organisms apart even more. These little microbes dont have life jackets, he said.

While Shostak is somewhat doubtful we'll find alien life on the moon, he acknowledges that we haven't seen sufficient evidence to rule it out either:

I think its good that he stimulates some thought on these things, said Shostak. On the other hand, you know, weve also got almost nothing on the moon. So, we dont really know.

Is Meeting our CosmicNeighbors a Bad Idea?

We are looking for extraterrestrials but are we ready to introduce ourselves? SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak appeared on TEDxMarin to present an "irreverent look" at whether introducing ourselves to the universe is such a good idea.

Big Picture Science

In last weeks episode, meet the powerhouse machines that lead the supercomputer pack in Supercomputer Showdown. In our previous week's episode, find out how the first exoplanet discovery led to 4,000 more and a Nobel Prize, in Nobel Efforts.

Facebook Live

Last time on Facebook Live, CEO Bill Diamond Interviews Science Advisory Board Chair Lucianne Walkowicz. Videos of all past Facebook Live events are on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SETIInstitute/

Read the original post:

SETI Institute in the news October 31 - November 6, 2019 - SETI Institute

From ‘A Trip to the Moon’ to ‘Interstellar’: ‘Space on the Silver Screen’ explores it all – Duke Chronicle

In 1902, a rocket landed in the moons eye, and audiences were in awe. Pirated versions of George Mlis silent black-and-white film A Trip to the Moon screened in theaters across the United States to rows of captivated eyes. That year gave birth to a new genre of film one that would later spawn multi-million dollar budget deals, elaborate theme parks and zeitgeist-defining, imagination-widening stories.

That year, the space movie began.

The genre has since rocketed to new heights in Hollywood. Since the space race of the 50s and 60s, when spaceships and moon-landings became reality, studios started churning out space movies, and they never stopped. Just this year, the tradition has persisted in blockbusters Star Wars, Ad Astra and Avengers: Endgame. As far as the eye can see, the space movie is here to stay.

So what makes a good space movie, then, in a world of so many? While there are certainly several factors, Duke professor and Science Communication program director Jory Weintraub wants us to think about about the science, or lack thereof, behind our favorite films.

For a few years now hes hosted a biannual event, Science in the Movies, that brings together science and film experts in a panel that dissects the science in various movie clips. In the past, the event has covered cinematic depictions of dinosaurs, mental illness and natural disasters. This Thursday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. in the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, a panel of three will tackle, for the second time, one of Weintraubs favorite topics: Space on the Silver Screen.

I just love this topic so much, Weintraub said. And especially since this is the year of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, I thought, Okay. Its been long enough lets do this one again.

The panel will include Tony Rice, a NASA ambassador and WRAL contributor, Dr. Rachel Smith, head of the Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Lab at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and Dr. Marsha Gordon, professor of film studies at NC State University and co-host of Movies on the Radio on WUNCs The State of Things. Weintraub will moderate, presenting clips from space movies through the decades beginning, of course, with the one that started it all: A Trip to the Moon.

A film doesnt have to be totally scientifically sound to have critical value. Take A Trip to the Moon, for example; it was made long before space exploration became a possibility, and it features anthropomorphized planets and insectoid lunar animals. Instead, Gordon appreciates its fantastical take on space travel.

What I like about [A Trip to the Moon] in the context of thinking about space movies is just sharing with a contemporary audience what a filmmaker dreamed up over 100 years ago as the way youd imagine getting from earth to the moon and back again, Gordon wrote in an email. Its really quite delightful.

Another movie that the event panel will discuss is Stanley Kubricks 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition to its dramatic aesthetic power, Dr. Gordon finds the film prescient in its imagination of artificial intelligence.

2001 raised questions about, for example, what might happen if computers could think and feel, Gordon wrote. It also raised the specter of AI taking control in a nefarious way that is a rather serious issue that we will all be confronted with in the relatively near future.

While many directors would openly admit to taking creative liberties in their depictions of science, a recent bevy of space-themed blockbusters have prided themselves on their scientific accuracy. In the making of Interstellar, Christopher Nolan enlisted astrophysicist Kip Thorne, and conversations about the wormhole-filled movies scientific authenticity abounded in popular culture. Nolan even followed up the films release with a book written by Kip Thorne, The Science of Interstellar.

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The general consensus in the scientific community is that Interstellar really does take inspiration from sound theoretical astrophysics although it certainly takes some creative license, as all movies branded as fiction necessarily do. But not all films that claim scientific accuracy are so well-researched. Weintraub wants to use these examples good and bad as a way of teaching the public what is true about space and space exploration.

I definitely am an unabashed science geek so Im not ashamed to say that, Weintraub said. But I think a lot of people you almost have to sneak [science] in in the form of entertainment.

Like the universe we live in, the audience of Space on the Silver Screen knows no boundaries it is for science geeks, film freaks and laypeople alike.

Continued here:

From 'A Trip to the Moon' to 'Interstellar': 'Space on the Silver Screen' explores it all - Duke Chronicle

Space Books and Gifts for Space Kids of all Ages – The Planetary Society

Our own Emily Lakdawalla, Planetary Society Senior Editor and book lover, shares her 2019 list of space books for every age range, from infant to adult. She also presents a list of cool space gifts recommended by scientists and engineers. Bruce Betts provides a tantalizing tease for what could be a brief but massive shower of meteors. And theres much more to look for in the fall sky.

What is the new or relatively new name for the most distant object visited by a spacecraft?

The winner will be revealed next week.

Apollo 4 was the first launch of the Saturn V rocket.

Mat Kaplan: [00:00:00] Need a great space book? Emily has the list this week on Planetary Radio. Welcome. I'm Mat Kaplan, of the Planetary Society, with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. It's that time of year, Planetary Society senior editor, Emily Lakdawalla is back with her annual list of outstanding books for space nerds of all ages. She'll join me in moments to list just a few of her faves, and she'll read a few passages. You'll also hear my top picks, and we'll sample Emily's separate list of great gifts recommended by space professionals.

Bruce Betts is also ahead on this home team edition of our show. Here are three stories torn from the latest edition of The Downlink, the Planetary Society's weekly digest of space exploration and science headlines. Planetary Society editorial director [00:01:00] Jason Davis has more waiting for you at planetary.org/downlink.

Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft left asteroid Ryugu after spending nearly a year and a half collecting samples, creating an artificial crater, and deploying small probes. The spacecraft will return its two samples of Ryugu to earth in about a year. They might tell us more about the origin and evolution of the solar system.

Ultima Thule, no more. That wondrous Kuiper belt object, officially known till now as 2014 MU69, has been given the name Arrokoth by the International Astronomical Union. The Native American term means sky in the Powhatan/Algonquian language. The New Horizons spacecraft famously flew past it on New Year's Day, 2019. Ultima Thule was never more than a nickname provided by the mission team.

NASA's Mars Curiosity [00:02:00] Rover has detected seasonal changes in oxygen levels that scientists can't explain. The findings may be related to a similar ongoing mystery over fluctuating methane levels. There's a chance the changes could be linked to underground life. Though a non biological explanation is more likely, need we remind you that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence? Of course, I believe it's a grove of giant sequoias in the Valles Marineris with squirrels. Kidding. The Downlink has lots of links waiting for all of you who wanna explore these and other stories. No kidding.

Going now our friend and colleague, Emily Lakdawalla. I'll remind you again later, but all the books she recommends on her 2019 list can be found in the blog at planetary.org, along with the gift guide. Emily, like you, books have meant, right from the beginning, and still today, mean so much to [00:03:00] me. I remember, in fact, I still have the Life Science Library that my parents bought us. And my favorite volume in that library, the book simply called Space, uh, which gave me a good deal of my introduction to, uh, astronomy, and astronautics, and space exploration.

And then, uh, science fiction as well, not something that you cover, uh, except for the, I guess, the youngest kids, there's a little bit of fiction here, but I still have some, um, some old Robert Heinlein young adult books here. Books are that important to you too, aren't they?

Emily L.: Yeah, I've been a, a huge reader all my life. So it was a little difficult when I had children and I didn't have as much time as I used to, to just get lost in books. Um, like you say, fantasy, Sci-Fi, um, non-fiction. I used to devour everything. I remember a book that changed my life was The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert Bakker, which I read as an eighth grader, which had the gall to question established science and propose this revolutionary idea that dinosaurs might actually be [00:04:00] birds. And it's just been delightful to watch that whole thing unfold. So books are very important to me.

And you know, when I became a parent, I wasn't reading so many books intended for adults, but I was reading, consuming and reading aloud a great many books for children. And it occurred to me that I could have a little fun by, uh, suggesting to other parents books that would be good, that were about space, kind of, you know, dovetail both of my interests being a, being a parent and, and of course space exploration. The delightful thing about that is that after doing this for now, 11 years, I get shipped boxes and boxes of books all year long and it's like Christmas every day I get one of these, I get to open it up and see what's inside.

Mat Kaplan: Great fun. As you know, I, I get, uh, some of these as well, but they tend to be intended for adults. I had the best time, some of my best parental memories are of reading to my daughters who I am delighted to say are both avid readers now and, and very fine [00:05:00] writers. And I'm sure that that was very much tied to their exposure to books as young kids.

Emily L.: Oh, definitely. My kids are, are of course avid readers too. And um, it was really important to me that I read books to them that weren't just, you know, informative and had good a story, but the language had to be enjoyable as well. The word choices rich, the rhythm of the sentences, fun to read aloud. And so I, I always look for that in the books that I recommend to my annual book list.

Mat Kaplan: Well, so I don't think that we've ever thrown away a children's book because Adrian was planning for grandchildren right from the start. And so we have shelves downstairs. You have on this newest list, a bunch of, uh, books that, uh, probably belong on some of those shelves. Let's, uh, start going through some of these. And, and I know you've got them divided up by, uh, age range.

Emily L.: Yes. When I recommend book for, books for kids, I'm, I'm not kidding, I, I recommend books for all ages zero to 18. And so to help people out in selecting books for their own kids or their niblings or, whoever, um, I do divide them by age. It's [00:06:00] funny. D-, different years I get a more or less of different age range books. This year was a particularly good year for books for ages around four to seven. The kind that you read aloud to a child who's just beginning to learn to read for themselves. There were some great ones this year.

Mat Kaplan: Okay. And you start even younger than that as you said, zero to, what is it, zero to three?

Emily L.: Mm-hmm [affirmative]-

Mat Kaplan: Even infants, um, get 'em while they're young.

Emily L.: [Laughs]. I have to say some of the books in that category are really more for the parents than they are for the children, but they're good, uh, you know, durable board books. But let's begin, I think with a book from this four to seven year old range. Um, the first one I, I'd like to talk about is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I Know Exactly What You Are. Uh, which was written by, um, Dr Julia Kregenow, who's a, uh, actually an astronomer at Penn state, um, illustrated by Carmen Saldana. And this, as you might imagine, it's a retelling, a rephrasing of the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star poem. But Kregenow has, has actually managed to [00:07:00] compress into that rhyme a huge amount of information about different kinds of stars across the galaxy. And, um, I'd like to read a little selection of it if I could-

Mat Kaplan: Please do.

Emily L.: So this is, uh, toward the middle of the book. Our sun's average as stars go, formed 5 billion years ago, halfway through its life so far, twinkle midsize, yellow star.

Mat Kaplan: [Laughs]. That's wonderful. What a perfect little [crosstalk 00:07:25].

Emily L.: Hold on.

Mat Kaplan: Oh, there's more?

Emily L.: There's more. I want to read a couple of stanzas. Two stars make a binary or a triple if there's three, some are so low, just like ours, twinkle, twinkle little stars. Quarter trillion stars all stay bound within the Milky way. Dusty spiral with a bar, twinkle galaxy of stars. Stars have planets orbiting rocky or gaseous moons and rings. Earth's unique with life so far, thank you to our precious star.

Mat Kaplan: Oh, that was lovely. Thank you. I think that's one for my, uh, [00:08:00] going on four-year-old grandson.

Emily L.: It's so enjoyable to read, because she's r-, she's really, uh, like, I said, packed a lot of information. Each page has a wonderful illustration with it. Each has some- some facts that'll really teach parents about stars, and yet it still has the proper rhythm, and is hugely enjoyable to read.

Mat Kaplan: For adults too. I mean, that's just fun to listen to and to read.

Emily L.: Absolutely. And that's what I... Those are the kinds of books that I really love, and- and pull off the shelf again and again.

Mat Kaplan: All right, any others for this age group, or do we move on?

Emily L.: Yeah, I had one other I wanted to recommend from this one. It's not inverse, uh, it's just a- a pro story written by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Sean Rubin. It's called The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon. And it's about Alan Bean-

Mat Kaplan: Hm.

Emily L.: ... the Apollo astronaut who became, uh, a space artist after he returned to earth. Robbins talked with Bean doing research for this. And so it's a, it's a very special story about, um ... It's about the Apollo mission, but it's really more about space art and how Bean wanted to use [00:09:00] art to communicate about the- the wonder of exploring the moon with the rest of the public.

Mat Kaplan: And, of course, we only just, uh, celebrated Alan Bean with the, uh, marking of the 50th anniversary of, uh, of Apollo 12.

Emily L.: And I- I'd like to read a selection from this one, too, if I could?

Mat Kaplan: Sure.

Emily L.: Alan's friends asked him about his time in space. "What was it like up there?" He tried to explain the moon's barren beauty, but words weren't enough, and his photographs just showed a grim and gloomy place. There was so much more to the moon than that. So much magic and mystery. How could Alan share his story so others would understand? He pulled out his paints and brushes. Alan knew he was the only artist ever to leave the earth. The only artist ever to see the moon up close. Maybe a painting could show how it felt to be in outer space.

Mat Kaplan: And of course, uh, since then, we've had a number of other artists, uh, follow Alan Bean into space. [00:10:00] And it's just, it's wonderful to think about not just the- the visual artist, but the musicians and others who've, uh, made it up to the international space station and elsewhere above our heads. It's... Does this book contain any of Alan Bean's actual work?

Emily L.: It does not. It, uh, contains, uh- uh, really wonderful illustrations by Sean Rubin, but it doesn't contain Alan Bean's art. It does, um, I think inspire, uh, parents who are pretty much all hyper-connected to the internet these days to, uh, maybe, Google and look for his really very unusual artworks. And it... The book does talk about how, um, his art is not representational, it's abstract. And it's about communicating the feeling of being on the moon, um, the, kind of, human experience of it, as much as it is about showing what the moon looked like to his eyes.

Mat Kaplan: Now I've always enjoyed his, um, his work as well. And I'm looking at the cover of the book and, uh, it's a great illustration by this, uh, Sean Rubin.

Emily L.: And I should mention that Dean Robbins wrote one of the books that I recommended last year, which was called Margaret and the Moon, about Margaret Hamilton. So [00:11:00] he's clearly a space fan, and I look forward to more from him.

Mat Kaplan: Nice, yeah, a return visit, that's great. Okay, let's move on.

Emily L.: Um, moving up a little bit, we're, uh, going up in age to, um, maybe, older elementary school, to kids who are, uh, reading chapter books, um, easy chapter books. And, so, they're looking for short, maybe exciting books with great illustrations. And I have an unusual one to recommend this time around. I'm always a little fearful when I'm contacted by somebody who self-publishes a book, because... Uh, it's not because people can't write well, if they, um, you know, aren't part of the writing establishment. But, um, often they try to publish their books without having any professional editing done. And that, I'll tell you, is a huge mistake.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Emily L.: Editors save lives. And, so, um, when I'm contacted by amateur authors or, you know, people who are doing the self-publishing route, I always tell them, "You have to understand. Uh, first of all, I don't recommend you send a book to me that hasn't been edited by somebody who has some skill. And second of all, I almost never recommend [00:12:00] self-published books because they just don't meet that editorial quality."

But this one, uh, really favorably surprised me. It's written by a software engineer named Douglas Meredith, titled Generation Mars, illustrated by Luis Peres. It's a story of the first generation of children born on Mars, and it's intended to be the first in a series. And, I don't know, I have a memory of reading a book, kind of, similar to this, um, as a child that featured children protagonists, about my age, um, experiencing a- a very realistic science fiction future. And it really fired my imagination.

And I- I believe that this story can really do the same thing for kids of that age. Could put them in the boots of these children who are walking out on the martian surface for the first time. The first kids on Mars. And I think it's just a... It has the potential to be a really great and inspiring s- story for that age.

Mat Kaplan: Well that's exactly what Robert Heinlein was up to with his, uh, books for young adults, mostly written in the 1950s, that I certainly identified with. And it [00:13:00] drew me in better than, uh, any of the nonfiction space books that I had started out with, before I discovered Heinlein and the rest of science fiction. Have you got a sample from this one?

Emily L.: I do. So I thought that I'd read part of the book where, um, the child does, the main character, Cass , actually walks out on the surface of Mars for the first time. The outer door rolled open noiselessly, and beyond was the surface. Cass could see a flat red plain that stretched from the air-locked door into the distance. Here and there were round buildings, and rovers, and rover parts stacked neatly.

She stepped out of the air-lock and felt a moment of panic when she looked up the sky. It went on forever, and was not blue like the sky in the town. It was shades of yellow and tan, except for a hazy bluish area around the sun. The sun! That was the real thing! She'd seen pictures of all this, of course, but standing beneath it now for the first time, she felt small and scared. Her head swam and she looked down. "That's quite a sky isn't it, children," [00:14:00] said Sally. "It can be a little scary at first, I know, but come out, gather around, and we'll hold hands while we look."

And then I'll skip forward a little bit. Cass held the gloved hand of the kid to either side of her. She was afraid to look up. She focused on her breathing, counting three for in, and three for out, and looked at the ground to study herself. Her booted feet were huge. She scratched at the red dirt with one, dragging it forward and back slightly, then in a small arc, then in a big curve that became a C. She smiled. She looked up into that endless yellow sky. She let go of her classmates' hands, and she raised her arms up toward that sky, and she wooped. She-

Mat Kaplan: Huh.

Emily L.: ... opened her mouth and let out the loudest, wildest, craziest holler ever heard on the planet.

Mat Kaplan: That is wonderful! Nice work-

Emily L.: [Laughs]

Mat Kaplan: ... uh, Douglas Meredith.

Emily L.: Yeah, it's, uh, it's enjoyable, and I look forward to further installments in the series.

Mat Kaplan: And the cover of the book just happens to be, I- I assume it is a depiction of exactly this scene that you just, uh, [00:15:00] read an excerpt to, uh- uh, from, uh, as these kids in their- their v-, uh, [laughs] very, I don't know, maybe their 22nd century, uh, spacesuits, step out onto the surface of Mars.

Emily L.: Yeah, and I should mention that the illustrations in this book are really beautiful quality. They're full-color paintings, um, and they're just gorgeous.

Mat Kaplan: And those are by, uh, Luis Peres-

Emily L.: Yes.

Mat Kaplan: ... as I see in your list. Let me mention-

Emily L.: Oh ...

Mat Kaplan: ... one. It just happens to be one I'm familiar with, because it's by Sarah Cruddas, who, uh, with a forward by the astronaut, Eileen Collins, uh, The Space Race: The Journey to the Moon and Beyond. Also, really well illustrated. I was very happy to see it in your, in your, uh, list this year. Uh, and it's a great book. Sarah's much better known in the U.K. than she is here, because she's a, kind of, a- a science television, um, personality over there. Uh, but it's, uh, it's a terrific book. Uh, just called the Space Race. And now, please... Sorry for the interruption, Emily, but, uh, go on.

Emily L.: So I've got a great book for the middle grade group. It's, um, it's a young [00:16:00] readers' version of a autobiography by Astronaut, Leland Melvin called Chasing Space. And Leland Melvin is probably best known on the internet right now for a, a his astronaut portrait featuring his two dogs-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Emily L.: ... who are jumping all over him, uh, as he's wearing his, his orange flight suit. His, uh, story is really quite remarkable. He was actually drafted into the NFL. He played briefly for the Detroit Lions before being sidelined by a hamstring injury. He was actually on the Cowboys, uh, briefly but was cut before the season started. And he went on to grad school and then became an astronaut. Flew two missions aboard Atlantis, and, um, is now, uh, retired from the astronaut work. But he's, uh, doing a lot of work touring all over the country, um, giving, uh, talks, uh, supporting STEM education, especially for Black youth.

And I have to say, his autobiography is just gripping. There are so many moments in his story that could have ended all hope of having any kind of [00:17:00] distinguished future. And then there are all these kind of moments of grace where things just line up and are lucky for him. And of course, he's skilled and intelligent and, and all of that. His writing is really excellent. But he never fails to give a huge amount of credit to all the people who helped him along the way. And so, it's just, it's a delightful read. I haven't read the adult, the originally version. This is the young readers' edition. Um, but I assume it's, it's just as exciting. This is a, a fast read. And I'm, I'm [laughs] sure it covers, um, uh, most of the same material.

Mat Kaplan: I'll note that the adult version of, uh, Leland's book is, uh, on your gift guide, which we will address in a few minutes briefly. Uh, it's, it's a great book. And, and, man, this guy has lead an amazing life. Almost, uh, lost the opportunity to become an astronaut for reasons that we won't go into. It would give too much away of the story. But, uh, I agree, it's great and, and just a, a very nice guy as well. He's visited us at the Planetary Society.

Emily L.: Yeah. He really is. And the stories that he [00:18:00] tells, you know, he's, he's certainly faced the same kind of discrimination, um, all throughout his life as any other African American does. And he's also gotten extraordinary opportunities. He was actually... He actually had to be, had to be talked into applying for a job at NA-, at NASA. And he actually decided he wasn't going to apply to be an astronaut, because he figured it was too long a shot.

Mat Kaplan: Uh-huh [affirmative].

Emily L.: And then one of his friends, uh, applied and became an astronaut. And he was like, "This five foot tall guy became an astronaut," or five foot four, whatever, "became an astronaut. Then surely I could do it."

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Emily L.: And so, um, there's, there's all these moments. It's really wonderful. I have two selections, uh, from this book to read.

Mat Kaplan: Go for it.

Emily L.: Okay. So, the first is, uh, just after he's been, um, selected as an astronaut and he is, is talking about moving to Houston. "I bought a house in El Lago, the neighborhood where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin lived at the time of the first moon landing. El Lago City Hall has an Astronaut Wall of Fame with photos of all the astronauts who had lived there. 48 at last count, including me. The house I found was simple but [00:19:00] beautiful, and I remember thinking, 'I could get used to this.'"

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Emily L.: "On the other hand, some people had to get used to me. El Lago wasn't a place that had seen a lot of Black people, let alone many Black astronauts. The day I moved in, a woman across the street stared at me, her arms folded across her chest. 'Hi,' I said, and waved to her. She shook her head and walked back into her house. Thanks for the warm welcome, neighbor."

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]

Emily L.: So, that's, uh, that's the first selection. And then here's, uh, the second one, um, is coming at a time when, uh, is actually right after, really the moment after the space shuttle, Columbia, broke up on re-entry. "Everyone at NASA Headquarters was focused on one thing, taking care of our families. Every astronaut chooses what's known as a crew astronaut casualty officer, or CACO, when he joins the Corps. The CACO's job is to help the family interact with NASA in case of a disaster. That afternoon, I was asked to provide support to the parents of David Brown, the flight surgeon who had been [00:20:00] along the crew. I wasn't David's CACO, but he was a close friend. David had lead the investigation to find out what happened to my hearing in the NBL pool. He helped me through one of the most difficult periods of my life with a patience and grace that I'll never forget."

Skipping down a little bit. "'My son is gone. There's nothing you can do to bring him back,' David's father said to me. 'But the biggest tragedy would be if we don't continue to fly in space to carry on his legacy.' Judge Brown's comments, his grace in the midst of grief hit me in the heart. I knew he was right. We couldn't give up. I couldn't give up. His strength and conviction in the shadow of what I know was one of the darkest moments of his life changed how I felt about my place in the world and gave me a whole new understanding of what it means to think of others first. In that moment, I dedicated myself to doing everything I could to honor his words."

Mat Kaplan: Oh, that's very effecting. Very nice selection.

Emily L.: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Highly recommend it to both kids and adults. And actually, that's true for, um, all the [00:21:00] middle grade and, um, teen books I recommend. Several of them are not even in-, intended for children. They're just accessible to children. And I, I often find that, uh, uh, books that work well for young, younger readers are really often the best explainers of experiences, of, uh, events. And, um, they really kind of get to the heart of what happens in major events.

Mat Kaplan: I've got a great example of one of those that, uh, you also included in this age range of 11 to 13. And it's, uh, Visual Galaxy, which is just as spectacular as you would expect a book to be from National Geographic. Uh, and you point out that it's about [laughs] ... It's not just pictures of the Milk Way Galaxy and others. It's really about the contents of the galaxy, including our own solar system. And it, it is gorgeous.

Emily L.: Yeah. It's a whole planetary science textbook.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah. More of Emily and her list of great books is coming right up. But first, how about The Great Courses Plus? [laughs] One of my favorite ways to, uh, to learn. [00:22:00] And it makes learning so easy and accessible. Thousands upon thousands of lectures on pretty much every topic that you can think of, and you can do it at any place, lunch break, the gym, washing dishes if you want. And here is a personal recommendation for you. I highly recommend Apollo 11: Lessons for All Time. It is The Great Courses Plus special tribute to the 50th Anniversary of Apollo.

Four lectures, each one of them taught by a wonderful specialist in their field looking at the geopolitics of Apollo, the moon itself, what the moon taught us about the rest of the solar system and beyond. It's absolutely outstanding. And here is that special deal that is available to you listeners. You can go to thegreatcoursesplus.com/planetary and get a free month, not just for this course but every one of the hundreds and hundreds of courses offered by The Great Courses Plus. That's it, [00:23:00] thegreatcoursesplus.com/planetary to start your free month. Have fun learning. Where to now?

Emily L.: In the oldest age group, I'm recommending, um, several books that, like I said, they're not marketed at teens. They're marketed at adults, just accessible to teens. And I have a, a really unusual and fun book, um, by James Trefil and Michael Summers called Imagined Life. It's a book about astrobiology. So, it explains in very plain language, um, really easy to understand how we are looking for life in the universe, what we're looking for when we're looking for life in the universe, why we are looking for life that might look similar to ours, uh, to life on our own planet, and, um, the, some of the techniques that we're trying to use and some of the places, in particular, the places where we're looking for life.

But astrobiology is a, is a funny sort of field. [laughs] There's not a whole lot of data. In fact, we only have one planet where we know that life exists. And so, it's a, it's a little hard to look for, because we don't know exactly what we're looking for. And so, uh, more and [00:24:00] half of this book goes in, into a little bit more speculative territory, where, um, they discussed some different kinds of planets where life might exist and, and how that life might have originated, um, might, uh, thrive and live and consume, uh, energy and reproduce on these different kinds of exoplanets that we've discovered.

And it begins each chapter with a little paragraph introduction that's, that just a little snippet of science fiction. The wonderful thing about this book is that it, it really provides a handbook for people who are interested in basing their science fiction writing on good, strong scientific fact. And so I highly recommend this book as a resource for anybody who wants to write hard science fiction.

Mat Kaplan: I was not aware of this book until I saw it in your list, but I have many books on my shelf, science fiction and nonfiction, about astrobiology, about, uh, the possibilities of alien life. And, eh, from that book that I mentioned right up front, [00:25:00] the, uh, Life Science Library, uh, uh, volume called Space, what stuck with me more than anything in that book were the speculative drawings and paintings of possible aliens, including, uh, this beautiful color illustration of these floating furry gas bags with cat eyes that people speculate could live in the atmospheres of a place like, uh, like Jupiter or the gas giants around the galaxy. Who knows, until we go out and look for ourselves? But this is great stuff and, uh, I, I wanna pick this one up.

Emily L.: Yeah. You know, the, uh, a long time ago before we had all these wonderful space missions, we definitely had to employ more artistic imagination to imagine what was going on on, on other worlds. Now it, it may seem like there's less of opportunity for that, but one of the things I like to say the most about space exploration, and really, actually, any kind of science in general, is that in order to discover something, especially in space, you have to imagine what [00:26:00] might be there first. You have to select missions and instruments that are designed for worlds you've never seen. And so there has to be this speculative imagination among the people who intend to explore planets. And so it's really great to see people who, who write science fact, who write nonfiction, get that opportunity to do all of this imagining.

Mat Kaplan: Fun stuff. I love this kind of speculation. Do you have something to read, uh, to us? A little sample of the Imagined Life?

Emily L.: Yeah. I'd like to read to you the transition that goes from the more fact filled, uh, first third of the book and into the more speculative last part of the book. In what follows, we introduce each new world with a short fictional sketch that describes how a human being, suitably protected and provided with sensing equipment, might experience the environment he or she is encountering. We have chosen this way of introducing the planets for one simple reason, as we have repeatedly stressed terrestrial life is the only kind of life we know about. It constitutes, therefore, the only living [00:27:00] organisms whose response to the new environment we can guess that with some hope of success. With this in mind, let's take a look at a world that we will call Icehein.

Mat Kaplan: Hm.

Emily L.: You're in a long dark tunnel, walled with solid ice. The only light seems to be coming from a far off volcanic vent that is spewing molten material from the planet's interior into your tunnel. At your feet, you dimly spot a pipe leading toward the tunnel's end. The air around it is warm and humid, and you see that it is squirting hot water to melt a clear path from the vents to the exit. Your stomach rumbles. Your trip here has made you hungry. You notice that around the volcanic vent are fields of tube worms, white and red. You sample one, not bad. Perhaps they be-

Mat Kaplan: [Laughs].

Emily L.: Perhaps they could become a staple of your diet here on this strange planet called Icehein. And so they go on to explain that, that Icehein is a water world. It's a, it's a large world with a huge ocean that's, uh, covered with a very [00:28:00] thick layer of ice. So it's a little bit like, um, Europa, but, [laughs], icier, waterier, and a standalone world as opposed to a moon of Jupiter. They do get to Europa later on in the book, and to many other more, uh, unusual kinds of planets. So it's, it's a really an enjoyable read.

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Space Books and Gifts for Space Kids of all Ages - The Planetary Society

ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano will be Controlling a Rover From Space – Universe Today

Update: The Analog-1 experiment was a complete success! Astronaut Parmitano completed all the requirements within the specified time frame (one hour). This test is the first step in validating the teleoperation technology.

NASA has been rather up-front about its desire to send astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars in the coming years. They are joined by multiple space agencies (such as the ESA, Roscosmos, the CNSA and the IRSO) who also wish to conduct their first crewed missions beyond Earth. However, what is often overlooked is the role teleoperated missions will play in the near-future where humans and robots explore hand-in-hand.

For example, the ESA has embarked upon a series of experiments collectively named Analog-1, where astronauts control robots from space. Yesterday (Nov. 18th), ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano took control of a robot in the Netherlands from the ISS. This experiment and others like it will help prepare astronauts for future missions that will involve the exploration of hazardous or inaccessible off-world environments.

The rover (known as Interact) was created as part of the Multi-Purpose End To End Robotics Operations Network (METERON) project, which seeks to create communication networks, robot interfaces, and hardware to enable astronauts to remotely control robot explorers from orbit. These robots will be capable of scouting out landing sites for future missions, locating resources, and preparing habitats for astronauts.

The key to this process is a specially-developed space internet that can connect an operator to locations up to 10,000 km (6,200 mi) away either between orbit and the surface or in distant locations on Earth. This connection allowed Luca to remain in contact with the rover, as well as to see, and feel everything it experienced albeit with a time delay.

This is crucial when it comes to teleoperation since exploration targets are so far from Earth. To remotely-operate a lunar rover, mission controllers have to contend with delays that are seconds or minutes long. From the Earth to the Moon, signals only take a few seconds to get there and back. But for missions to Mars, the delay can be anywhere from 4 to about 24 minutes (depending on where Earth and Mars are in relation to each other).

In the end, conventional connections only allow mission controllers to send commands and receive data in return. The METERON project, on the other hand, allows controllers to see and even feel what the robot does in spite of a time delay. Control is provided using two laptops and a Sigma7 force-feedback joystick with six-degrees of motion. This haptic joystick lets the controller experience what the rover itself senses from its environment.

Connecting the rover and the operator is no simple task, seeing as how signals from the ISS make a round trip of about 144,400 km (89,725 mi). Meanwhile, the ISS is traveling around the Earth at a speed of 29,000 km/h (18,000 mph). These signals are sent to a series of satellites that are in orbits of up to 36,000 km (22,370 mi) from the surface.

The signals are then transmitted to a US ground station in New Mexico, to NASAs Houston, and then through a transatlantic cable to Europe. All of this leads to a rather significant time delay, but one which is manageable thanks to the advanced infrastructure built by NASA, the ESA, and other partner agencies.

The first sessions saw Luca driving the Interact rover through an obstacle course located in a hangar at Valkenburg in the Netherlands near the ESAs European Science Research and Technology Center (ESTEC). Backdrops featuring lunar landscapes were placed around the course, which consisted of a series of cones placed on top of soil designed to simulate lunar regolith.

The ultimate goal is to conduct this kind of remote control exploration from stations like the Lunar Gateway or the Mars Base Camp. These stations and the ability to teleoperate rovers on the surface is a key aspect of establishing a sustainable human presence on the Moon and conducting crewed exploration missions to Mars aka. NASAs Moon to Mars plan.

The next step in the Analog-1 experiment will consist of a simulation scheduled to take place in about a weeks time that will involve a full-on simulated lunar environment. This test will assess whether or not a human-operated robot can carry out geological surveys and explorations of hard-to-access places.

A team at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, will act as a science team and monitor the experiment. To complete the illusion of a lunar mission, they will instruct and advise Luca on potential research targets, which will include whether the simulated lunar rocks encountered by the Interact rover merit further scientific analysis or should be discarded.

Similar Analog experiments are being conducted by engineers in Germany who are using the METERON system to control a rover in Canada. These experiments are not only validating the sophisticated technology involved; they are also demonstrating the value of human-robotic cooperation in space which will play a central role in future exploration plans.

Meanwhile, ministers from the ESAs member states will be convening later this month (Nov. 27th-28th) at the Space19+ in Seville, Spain, to discuss the Agencys scientific goals for the future. Given the importance of teleoperations and the technology behind it, METERON and the Analog experiments are sure to come up!

Be sure to check out this video of the Interact rover being teleoperated:

Further Reading: ESA

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ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano will be Controlling a Rover From Space - Universe Today

Houston can stay the Space City within medical and health innovation – InnovationMap

Space has captured the imagination of mankind since we first looked up at the night sky. We've reached out to touch the stars, and now endeavor to inhabit them.

Earlier this month, a prominent collection of experts on space health attended the first Space Health Innovation Conference co-hosted by the University of California, San Francisco, and Houston-based Translational Research Institute for Space Health.

As NASA eyes a return to the moon with the Artemis Program, attendees of the Space Health Innovation Conference advanced a national discussion of human space exploration by seeking to manage the many health risks associated with humans during space flight. The event included NASA leadership, innovative companies, commercial space vendors, as well as leaders from the space health and life sciences communities.

The conference's goal is to inform, inspire and invite participation in the exciting challenge of optimizing health and medical management in space environments.

With its headquarters in Houston, TRISH partnered with the Human Research Program at Johnson Space Center to source and seed the best emerging health technologies to support NASA's space exploration. TRISH is based out of the Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and is a consortium that includes the rich space pedigree of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology. The Space Health Innovation Conference is the result of a grant by TRISH to UCSF. TRISH has also hosted Space Health focused events at the MIT Media lab and at Caltech.

TRISH's main charge is finding disruptive health technologies and new scientists to fuel the US Space Program. TRISH explores emerging areas of science that support health and human performance in the harsh environment of microgravity and high radiation. TRISH funds novel research in artificial intelligence, omics, human computer interfaces, behavioral health and beyond. Projects all share one goal: predicting and protecting future Mars explorers. And NASA leadership encourages TRISH to take the risks that could mean huge leaps forward.

Innovation and risk tolerance are hallmarks of Houston and its rich history. From the city's humble origins, to Jesse Jones's national financial leadership, to the building of the Houston Ship Channel, and to the explosion of the energy industry, Houston has always dared to leap forward. President John F. Kennedy's iconic speech entitled "Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Effort" declared the US ambition to embrace the new frontier of space and conquer the moon. Humble Oil donated the 1,620 acres for JSC to Rice University, who then sold the land to NASA for $20. (Humble Oil would later become Exxon Mobil.)

JSC housed flight control, space flight training, and the NASA Astronaut Corps. JSC gave Houston the nickname "Space City", which led to the naming of the local NBA team to be the Rockets and the local MLB team to be the Astros. JSC's support for the astronaut corps began with the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, which evaluated the Apollo astronauts upon return to Earth. And the Christopher C Kraft Mission Control facility has directed all crewed space flights since the early Gemini program. An American flag flies atop Mission Control at JSC every day that an American is in space. That flag has flown continuously since November 2, 2000.

Nearly two decades since Bill Shepherd first boarded the International Space Station, the conversation around supporting human health and performance in space continues. And Houston will continue to lead the way for all our sakes, in space and on terra firma.


James Hury is the deputy director and chief innovation officer at Houston-based Translational Research Institute for Space Health.

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Houston can stay the Space City within medical and health innovation - InnovationMap

Investigating water ice, space weathering on the Moon – Washington University in St. Louis Newsroom

The first manned lunar landing mission, Apollo 11, launched from the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969. A new research collaborative led by Arts & Sciences researchers from Washington University in St. Louis seeks to identify the source of water stored as ice at the lunar poles, and also to help future space explorers to harvest the water for beneficial use. (Photo: NASA)

When humans go back to the Moon and NASA plans to return by 2024 theyre going to need water. For now, the astronauts expect to bring their own. But future space explorers aim to take advantage of water recently discovered in little-explored regions of the Moon.

The water is stored as ice in shadowy parts at the Moons poles. A consortium led by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis will investigate the life cycle of this water and other volatiles on the surface of the Moon. The team is one of NASAs eight new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institutes; the five-year cooperative agreement is valued at more than $7 million.

One of the big questions we are looking to shed light on is what are the origins and evolution of water on the Moon, said Jeffrey Gillis-Davis, research associate professor of physics in Arts & Sciences and the principal investigator of the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Evaluating Volatile Origins (ICE Five-O) team.

Studying the interaction between lunar volatiles and the space environment gives our team the opportunity to test hypotheses regarding the delivery and retention of water and other volatiles on bodies in the inner solar system, he said.

Researchers on the ICE Five-O team will investigate fundamental questions at the intersection of space science and human space exploration.

For example, NASA is eyeing the water at the Moons poles with more than just basic science in mind. If humans are able to successfully mine lunar ice, it could be split into its elemental components hydrogen and oxygen and used in fuel for high-energy rockets. Future refueling stations on the Moon could propel explorers to sites all over the inner solar system.

This project represents a great integration of our analytical and experimental laboratories both in the Earth and Planetary Sciences and Physics departments, as well as our experience in lunar science and other planetary research, said Brad Jolliff, the Scott Rudolph Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences and a co-investigator on the project.

Other Washington University co-investigators include Ryan Ogliore, assistant professor of physics, and Alian Wang, research professor of earth and planetary sciences.

In addition to Washington University, the new consortium includes researchers from the University of Hawaii; California State University San Marcos; San Francisco State University; NASAs Johnson Space Center; the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory; the Lunar & Planetary Institute; University of Winnipeg; York University; and the University of Toronto.

In 2017, NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter found new evidence of surface water ice in polar regions of the Moon. Scientists suggest three main hypotheses for the origins and evolution of water and other ices now known to be contained in permanently shadowed regions of the Moon.

The water may have been expelled from volcanoes on the Moon billions of years ago. Or the water and other volatiles may have been delivered to the surface of the Moon by comets and water-rich asteroids. Another theory suggests that the water was formed when oxygen-rich minerals on the lunar surface were buffeted by hydrogen ions streaming from the sun.

We want to place some constraints on how the isotopic signatures of volatile sources might be modified as molecules traverse across the lunar surface and find their way into permanently shadowed regions, Gillis-Davis said. We want to be sure that future measurements can conclusively determine the source or sources of volatiles, when ice chemistry is measured on the lunar surface.

To do that, the researchers will also study how the harsh space environment alters the surfaces of airless bodies like the Moon, a process called space weathering.

The ICE Five-O grant includes funding for a new state-of the-art space weathering laboratory. Ions streaming from the sun and high-velocity dust-sized particles release huge amounts of energy that transform minerals into glass and can destroy ices, or lead to a variety of chemical processes for example, transforming molecules of water (H2O) ice and carbon dioxide (CO2) ice to methane ice (CH3). The new space weathering facilities will expand the range of surface conditions that researchers can simulate. These simulations will allow researchers to create conditions like those found at the lunar poles and on other planetary bodies to see how water, ice and rock are altered when they encounter these conditions.

Collaborators are also developing the protocols and techniques for collecting new space samples that are more likely to contain volatile substances. These protocols are not only important for when humans return to the Moon, but also for other space missions such as those to the surfaces of asteroids. The ICE Five-O team includes NASA sample curation specialists, who are developing new techniques to safely transport, preserve and handle these volatile-rich samples.

Revealing the source of the Moons water can in turn inform us about how the Earth got its water, Gillis-Davis said. If we see that the water wasnt sourced entirely from lunar volcanoes that it was delivered later then it would be a strong indicator that Earths oceans formed at least in part by water delivered after Earths formation, rather than during its accretion in the early solar system.

The research led by the ICE Five-O team will help guide critical parts of the planning for future manned missions to the Moon.

ICE Five-O results aim at not only determining the source of lunar water but also enabling an era of sustained exploration, where people live and work on the Moon for extended periods of time, Gillis-Davis said.

Related video: Washington University scientists on how Apollo 11 launched 50 years of lunar science.

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Investigating water ice, space weathering on the Moon - Washington University in St. Louis Newsroom

Blue Origin CEO on rocketry, space tourism and the relationship with Amazon – CNBC

Once super secretive, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin has been steadily emerging from stealth.

Founded in 2000, the space company has been simultaneously working on various initiatives that together speak to its broader vision: human space flight capabilities that will help establish the infrastructure for humanity to colonize space.

Blue Origin, which has been almost completely funded by Bezos, has been gearing its suborbital New Shepard space tourism service, which will compete against newly public Virgin Galactic as soon as next year.

It's developing its orbital New Glenn rocket, targeting a first flight in 2021, that it hopes will win national security launch contracts, including the Air Force's already-contested Launch Service Procurement.

The company also recently submitted its bid for NASA's lunar lander competition, partnering with well-established space heavyweights Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper, and spearheading the effort as the team's prime contractor.

Blue Origin is also busy developing its rocket engines, which will power not only New Glenn but United Launch Alliance's next-generation Vulcan Centaur.

That engine business represents one of the first revenue streams for the company, and a key reason it's been investing $200 million to build its 200,000-square-foot engine factory in Huntsville, Alabama, and strike a deal with NASA's nearby Marshall Space Flight Center to refurbish a historic test stand.

CNBC's Morgan Brennan recently sat down with Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, to discuss everything the space upstart has underway. The following Q&A is a lightly edited version of the interview, which occurred in front of Blue Origin's lunar lander prototype Blue Moon, as it was on display at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, D.C.

Morgan Brennan: I think the first place we need to start is what we're sitting in front of, and why it's so crucial to the future of Blue Origin.

Bob Smith: Well, this is Blue Moon, our cargo lander that we've been working on for several years that we developed for the purposes of sustained lunar exploration and resource exploitation. We're excited about the fact that now we have NASA saying we're going back to the moon with their Artemis program. And we're able to actually offer a variant of this as part of a national team ... where we're going to partner up with Lockheed Martin, with Northrop Grumman and Draper to actually produce an integrated landing system that allows us to go back to the moon this time to stay.

Brennan: This national team that was just unveiled is certainly getting a lot of attention. How long has that been in the works? And what is that going to enable Blue Origin to do in terms of Artemis?

Smith: We're working against really good aggressive schedules, and we're trying to do something that we haven't done in almost 50 years. And so we wanted to reach out to Lockheed Martin, who just landed on Mars multiple times, amazing accomplishments there. We have Northrop Grumman, who's been able to regularly deliver supplies to space station as well as was the first lunar lander provider in the Apollo program, and Draper, who's known internationally as a leader in guidance, navigation and control. This is an incredibly powerful team that allows us to go fast and allows us to actually produce.

Brennan: I think sometimes there's this perception around so-called new space companies versus "old space" companies. To see Blue Origin partnering up with some of these long-established space stalwarts, do you think that's the wrong way to frame the conversation?

Smith: I've always hated that dichotomy, because I think it's putting the wrong kind of dynamics into the discussion. What you have are incredibly accomplished organizations like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and you go through the series of things that they've actually done it's absolutely stunning. And they've done it for decades. Everybody should be proud of their accomplishments in this space humanity. You also have companies that, like Blue Origin, have a longer strategic horizon simply because we're privately funded. We actually can stay on a different horizon, a different pace than necessarily those that are publicly traded and have some of those pressures that we don't have. So we can marry the capabilities together and actually do much better together.

Brennan: One of the reasons we're sitting down to have this discussion is because of Huntsville. The BE-7 engine [employed in Blue Moon] is being tested in Huntsville, also the lunar lander program in general is expected to take place out of Marshall. Why has it made sense for Blue Origin to make investments there?

Smith: Huntsville is known as the Rocket City, and it's deserving. That's where much of the U.S. rocket capability actually came from. You go back to the '50s and '60s, that's where it all started. It has this great receptacle of talent there that you can tap into, and it's been decades in building. We wanted to go to where the talent is. And you get great support from the government everyone from Gov. Ivey to Sen. Shelby all the way down to Mayor Battle have been great supporters of actually developing the space economy there. We're going to produce a world-class factory there 40 engines a year, which is a remarkable number of engines for spacecraft, as well as then testing on a historic site there. They have a large test and on 4670 that tested the Saturn V, as well as the shuttle engines. We're going to make that engine stand roar to life again.

Brennan: When do you get to 40 engines a year?

Smith: We're going to be there when we are at-rate and flying, so in '22 and '23. We are opening the factory there this coming first quarter.

Brennan: Have you been able to easily tap into the labor pool? What is it about the area that makes it so special?

Smith: Well, the people down there are absolutely well-schooled in this entire area. You don't have to do a lot of training from the standpoint of what is a rocket engine ... so there's a certain intuitive sense that's there in the employment base itself.

Brennan: Blue Moon, if it wins this NASA contract will it be built there as well?

Smith: BE-7 engine [the engine for Blue Moon] is one that we're figuring out where we will get that production. We're certainly doing the testing there today.

Brennan: In terms of the BE-4 engines: you're building them for your own orbital rocket, New Glenn, but also building them for ULA. How do you think about that breakdown in terms of production? And how big of a revenue opportunity is it to supply another company?

Smith: Customers always make you better so we're really excited that United Launch Alliance selected us. I mean, they are the premier national security launch provider today. We're going to learn a lot from them, and so it's a great opportunity not only to get really good at building the engines that we need for New Glenn, but also be a great supplier for them. And it actually does make us a much more self-sustaining business, which is where we're heading at Blue Origin. So that's one of our first big contracts, as well as the other satellite operator contracts that we started to sign as well as the United Air Force Launch Services Agreement contract that we have as well for New Glenn. So we're starting to get some progress.

Brennan: I am going to ask you the same question that I asked the CEO of ULA and that is, this relationship between Blue Origin and ULA: frenemies?

Smith: I think that the aerospace industry has always been about who do you compete with on one day, who do you partner with on another day. It's always had this environment in which and one day you can be competing hard against them and in other spaces you're not. Boeing and Lockheed are great customers of us potentially for launching. We're always going to have that dynamic and our relationship is really good, and they continue to challenge us to be a better supplier to them, which we welcome.

Brennan: Over the next couple of years, where do you see the biggest opportunities in terms of customers for New Glenn

Smith: We're already seeing some good take up from the market. Three of the top 6 satellite operators have already signed on New Glenn. United States Air Force obviously gave us one of the three large awards. We hope to extend our relationship with the Air Force in the coming years. I think those two areas are often very, very baseload for us. But we can also think about the intelligence community as well some of the larger payloads are very well suited for our larger vehicle, as well as some of these large constellations that are being proposed and going to be launched. ... So those could be very, very big opportunities for us as well.

Brennan: You've come out in recent weeks and suggested that the Air Force could think outside of the box a little more in terms of launch service procurement, and how they're going about facilitating future rockets.

Smith: This is a dialogue that I'm encouraging us to have, which is we've lost the sight of what is the simple problem. There's only one hard problem and that's getting to orbit. Once you get to orbit, we can do a lot of things. If you go back in the '60s and '70s, we had a lot of rockets, we had a lot of capability. But we've now narrowed that down, and now we think that the market continues to ask for more. If you look at what the market is today, about 25% is really around NASA and security launches. Seventy-five percent of it is commercial. That's the addressable market for U.S. providers. Our view is, that if you're going to select for national security capabilities, you want to get something that is commercially viable, because you want to take that large fixed cost and spread it off as many customers as you can. You shouldn't go buy a bespoke system unless you absolutely need one. And what the data shows is that there's a commercial market there that's viable, support a lot of different providers and that way you can get the competitiveness, the pricing and other things that you want from a good supplier.

Brennan: Is the U.S. doing enough to secure space?

Smith: I think that space control, space exploration, space commercialization is all been something that we started to talk about more today. I think we're getting a much better understanding of how important space is every day, whether it's GPS that's guiding your Uber, or what you're doing from a credit card processing from trades on the stock market that are actually timed using space assets. All of those are integral to our economy. And so if we're not conscious about what that commercialization of space means to our economy every day to everybody in the United States is around the world as well as what we need to go to protect those assets, and now what is it been tested environment now that we have near peers that actually threatening those space assets this becomes even more important that we have a robust set of launch vehicles.

Brennan: There are quite a number of satellite constellations, thousands of satellites, being proposed by different companies for broadband service, communications. Do they all become viable business models? And if so what does that mean in terms of launch possibilities?

Smith: The launch possibilities are large. How many of those their business plans actually convert? I don't have enough details as to whether they're going to convert. And I think they, as we talked to more of them, they all have different timing and different approaches of how they're going to go to market. But I think the fundamentals here are very sound and the fundamentals behind their premise is that the need for data worldwide continues to just escalate. I don't know how much of that will be carried on terrestrial networks and how much will be done in space. What I do know is that data demand is high. The fastest way of getting data around the world is going through free space is actually going to space and in low earth orbit, and where you don't have much lag in terms of the amount of time that it takes.

Brennan: Blue's sister company, Amazon, has actually proposed Project Kuiper as well a satellite constellation. Got some more details on that via FCC filings recently. Will Blue Origin rockets take those satellites to orbit?

Smith: We hope to. Amazon's a publicly traded company, we continue to go and engage them along with all the other Leo constellation providers and anybody else. We're a merchant launch service provider and we hope to win their business.

Brennan: Is there a lot of talk between, or work or collaboration between the two companies?

Smith: It's a publicly traded company. If we got into that kind of situation, it would not be good. We collaborate in the same way that we collaborate with any satellite operator.

Brennan: And just in terms of Amazon, publicly traded. Would there ever be a scenario in which or a timeline in which Blue Origin would become public as well?

Smith: The only reason why you ever become public is that you actually need to go get funding. I don't think that's a problem for us, honestly. So I mean, you kind of trade some control for getting funding. Our path is really to become self-sustaining business by ourselves so that we don't have to rely on private funding.

Brennan: So would Blue Origin ever open itself up to investors or VC round, for example?

Smith: We might, I don't know how long we can see out there. But unless we can't become a self-sustaining business, or we need some other infusion of cash, I don't know why we would.

Brennan: I want to get an update on New Shepherd. Certainly, it's being watched very closely. First crewed flights expected next year?

Smith: We were planning on this year; unfortunately, it's very unlikely we're going to get in this year. We need a few more flights to make sure that we're all comfortable with the verification. We hold ourselves to very, very high standards here, we're never going to fly until we're absolutely ready. I think we have a very, very good amount of confidence around the system itself, I think it is working very, very well. But we have to go look at all the analysis, and then convince ourselves that we're ready to go. ... So it probably will be next year.

Brennan: Tickets in the hundreds of thousands of dollars is that the right range, at least initially?

Smith: Any technology that starts off starts off at a high price point so we're going to start at a high price point and go down from there, but it will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for the initial tickets.

Brennan: Lastly, long-term vision for Blue Origin five years, 10 years, 20 years, where do you expect the company to be

Smith: Well, I think the things that first ground everybody on is what we're doing today, which is pretty ambitious and terrific. I mean, we're going to be flying people in space on the suborbital tourism vehicle on New Shepherd. We're going to be building a very, very large New Glenn vehicle that is going to really shake up I think the market in terms of its overall capabilities. We have our own engine production and what we were just talking about in Huntsville, this large, modern facility there. And we're going to the moon, that's going to keep us busy. I mean, that's going to keep us busy quite a bit. And as we actually go develop all these capabilities, we will become a more self-sustaining business, which is also part of where we need to be so. So yes, so that's where I think we're going to be.

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Blue Origin CEO on rocketry, space tourism and the relationship with Amazon - CNBC

Business of Space – 425business.com

For more than 100 years, the Puget Sound region has been known for its aerospace industry, largely thanks to The Boeing Company. Founded in Seattle in 1916, the company now employs approximately 70,000 people in Washington state, or roughly 45 percent of its global workforce, despite having relocated its headquarters to Chicago in 2001.

The sky is the limit when you think of our regions aerospace economy. Its even more promising when you consider a burgeoning sector of the industry namely, companies focused on outer space that increasingly plays a key role in our regions economy and employment, with much of that impact being felt in the Puget Sound region and on the Eastside.

Washington state and the central Puget Sound region are positioned to lead commercial space exploration and development, noted Berk Consulting, a Seattle-based company commissioned by the Puget Sound Regional Council in 2018 to study the areas burgeoning space economy. Today, the regions mix of high-tech manufacturing resources and information technology assets creates significant opportunities to compete in this growing sector.

The 65-page report offers a comprehensive look into the space industry in Washington state. We combed this constellation of data to identify some of the highlights.


In 2018, space companies contributed $1.8 billion to Washington states economy, supporting 2,900 direct jobs and 6,200 total jobs. These companies contributed $43 million in state taxes, and $22 million in local (county, city, and special districts) taxes.

In the Puget Sound region, 2.13 jobs are created for each job in the space industry. Every dollar spent in the space industry generates $1.51 of regional economic activity.


King County is home to the largest concentration of space-related businesses in Washington state. Many of these companies operate offices as well as research and manufacturing facilities on the Eastside. Here are three notable businesses.

A Mukilteo-based aerospace component and tooling manufacturer founded in 1986, Electroimpact designs and manufactures space and satellite components such as panels, specialized lifting equipment, trailers, and transporters.

Founded a decade ago as Arkyd Astronautics, this Redmond-based company aims to identify, extract, and refine resources such as water and precious metals from near-Earth asteroids.

Founded in 1994, this Bothell-based company manufactures and develops advanced technologies that serve the rapidly growing small satellite industry and the emerging field of in-space manufacturing that, in the end, foster the future development of a space-faring society.

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Business of Space - 425business.com

Snoopy Boldly Goes to Red Planet in ‘A Beagle of Mars’ – Space.com

On Dec. 18, Peanuts' Snoopy will follow in the pawprints of the Russian cosmonaut Laika and venture into space - but go where no beagle has gone before: Mars.

In the original graphic novel (OGN) "Snoopy: A Beagle of Mars," Charles M. Schulz' loveable canine goes on what BOOM! Studios calls "his grandest adventure yet!"

This graphic novel touches on a long association Peanuts - and Snoopy in particular - has had with outer space. The lunar module and command module of the historic 1969 Apollo 10 mission were named after Snoopy and Charlie Brown. That same year, NASA started an annual Silver Snoopy Award given out to employees for "outstanding achievements related to human flight safety or mission success."

Related: In Photos: Snoopy Visits NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

In 2018, Peanuts Worldwide and NASA re-doubled their partnership with the Space Act Agreement, an effort to inspire space exploration and STEM education among students.

"In 'Snoopy: A Beagle of Mars,' Snoopy, the world-famous astronaut, heads to the stars in his most out-of-this-world adventure yet!" reads BOOM!'s description of the OGN. "What mysteries does the red planet hold? Will he find water? Will he find life?Will he find the time to get in a quick nine holes? Snoopy grabs his golf clubs and blasts off for Mars in this original graphic novel from the world of Charles M. Schulz and Peanuts!"

"Snoopy: A Beagle of Mars" is written by Jason Cooper, with art from Robert Pope and Hannah White. Scroll down for a preview of the upcoming graphic novel.

Snoopy takes the ultimate giant leap for beagle kind: on Mars.

(Image credit: Robert W. Pope/Boom! Studios)

Sometimes that first step can be a doozy.

(Image credit: Robert W. Pope and Hannah White/Boom! Studios)

Snoopy, space travel and NASA have a long history together.

(Image credit: Robert W. Pope and Hannah White/Boom! Studios)

But this is Snoopy's first original graphic novel on Mars!

(Image credit: Robert W. Pope and Hannah White/Boom! Studios)

In reality, NASA has not sent a beagle to Mars.

(Image credit: Robert W. Pope and Hannah White/Boom! Studios)

It looks like Snoopy will have the Red Planet to himself in "Snoopy: A Beagle on Mars" from Boom! Studios.

(Image credit: Robert W. Pope and Hannah White/Boom! Studios)

Originally published onNewsarama.

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(Image credit: All About Space)

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Snoopy Boldly Goes to Red Planet in 'A Beagle of Mars' - Space.com

One third of British people think we will have to leave Earth eventually – sciencefocus.com

More than a third of Britons believe humans will inevitably have to live in space due to the Earth becoming increasingly uninhabitable.

While the public sector dominated space exploration in the 20th Century, the space race this century has been revolutionised by the private sector.And it seems increasingly likely that people will look to private enterprises like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Asgardia to facilitate their space travel.

To find out what the UK thinks about travelling to and living in space, Asgardia the first space nation commissioned Populus to conduct a poll of 2,103 people. From this figure, 37 per cent said it was inevitable that humans would have to move off Earth because the planet will not be suitable to live on.

A total of 29 per cent of those surveyed said they would pay to go to space if it were easily accessible to the general public.Less than a fifth (18 per cent) would use their savings to visit space if given the chance.

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People were also asked their opinions on aliens, with 42 per cent believing extraterrestrial life has or will visit the Earth.One fifth of those polled were worried about an asteroid potentially crashing into Earth, and the same number believe planetary alignments affect their mood.

A quarter of the recipients said the UK needs a stronger asteroid defence system.

Asgardia, the first space nation, is named after the City of the Gods in Norse mythology.Its main aim is to develop space technology unfettered by earthly politics and laws, leading ultimately to a permanent orbiting home where its citizens can live and work.

Imagine a colony on the Moon or Mars run by a corporation. That one company would control everything the colonists need to survive, from the water to the oxygen to the food. Thats a dangerous amount of power for any company, but its a very real scenario.

The further we look into the future of humans in space, the more reality resembles science fiction. Thats why its difficult to make people take the issues which could potentially arise seriously.

But now is the time to consider the problems that could arise from a commercially-led space race, and take the necessary small steps now to avoid potentially disastrous consequences in the future.

Read more about the privatisation of space here.

Former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik, chairman of Parliament for Asgardia, said: Inspiring the public to dream about space travel and tackle the final frontier is vital to the success of our endeavours even the Apollo programme, that ultimately put a man on the Moon, was scrapped largely due to a lack of public support in the US.

But with nearly a third of UK with an ambition to visit space, it is clear to see that this support is not unattainable.

One of the keys will be to help people feel as though they are a part of something bigger and more tangible than just watching a rocket launch or following the fate of a satellite due to crash into a comet.

Asgardia aims to provide this, with over a million followers already, the space nation offers the opportunity to contribute to the exploration of space. From running for a seat in our Parliament to tackling the scientific challenges associated with space living, democratising space exploration is a key goal of ours.

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One third of British people think we will have to leave Earth eventually - sciencefocus.com

NASA Might Explore Venus With Stingray-Like Spacecraft – International Business Times

NASA might explore Venus and its dark side using a unique probe that looks and moves like a stingray. According to the developers of the spacecraft, the probe will be equipped with wings that flap like a stingrays pectoral fins.

Although Venus is one of Earths closest neighbors, not much is known about the planet. Unlike other planets such as Mars, Venuss hostile environment and atmospheric conditions make it challenging to be explored by a probe.

This could all change through an innovative spacecraft currently being developed by the University of Buffalos Crashworthiness for Aerospace Structures and Hybrids (CRASH) Laboratory.

Its proposed probe, known as the Bio-Inspired Ray for Extreme Environments and Zonal Explorations (BREEZE) was selected by NASA as part of its Innovated Advanced Concepts. This program provides funding for exceptional technologies that can be used for space exploration.

According to the scientists of CRASH, BREEZE will serve as a unique spacecraft due to its morphing abilities. Unlike traditional planetary probes, BREEZE will be equipped with wings that will allow it to fly and glide like a stingray in the water.

The scientists explained that through these wings, which can morph depending on the situation, the probe will have various mechanical capabilities such as thrust, additional lift and stability. They noted that these are important factors when it comes to navigating through Venuss harsh conditions.

Javid Bayandor, the projects lead investigator and director of the CRASH Lab, explained that BREEZEs unique nature-inspired design will allow the probe to take advantage of the powerful winds in Venus upper atmosphere. It will also provide scientists with perfect control of the probe during its mission.

By taking our cues from nature, specifically sea rays, were looking to maximize flight efficiency, Bayandor said in a statement. The design will allow for a so-far unattained degree of control for such a spacecraft that would be subject to severe zonal and meridional winds on the planet.

According to CRASH Labs scientists, BREEZEs mission will involve navigating Venus every four to six days to monitor the planets weather patterns, atmospheric conditions and volcanic activity. It will be able to do so continuously through its solar-powered design.

Venus is closer to the sun than Earth and looks scorched today, but scientists suggest its surface may have once had enough protection from clouds to stay cool enough to have a water ocean. Photo: NASA/JPL

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NASA Might Explore Venus With Stingray-Like Spacecraft - International Business Times

UAE to reveal next space mission soon, officials say – Gulf News

Hazzaa Al Mansoori, Emirati Astronaut, during the press conference at Dubai Government of Media Office in Dubai. 12th November 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: UAE is already working on plans for its next space mission, it was announced during the first press conference of Emirati astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori after his historic maiden space flight in September.

Tuesdays press conference at Dubai Press Club was also addressed by Salem Al Merri, head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, and Sultan Al Neyadi, who was the back-up Emirati astronaut for UAE Mission 1 to the International Space Station (ISS).

When asked about whats next after the first UAE mission, Al Merri said were working on our plans and will soon announce it.

In October, Al Merri was quoted by SpaceNews.com as saying: Were now considering and opening up the [astronaut] selection process again and selecting one or two more [astronauts], and adding them to our first selection group.

Al Merri had also said, according to Spacenews.com, our target is that, in the next three to five years, weve started our next flight.

On Tuesday, Al Merri said training and preparation remained a major part of an astronauts life, so thats definelty what we have planned for [Al Neyadi and Al Mansoori] going forward, very in-depth training, looking for the next missions, and thats what well be working on and announcing as we start progressing.

On Tuesday, Al Mansoori, a fighter pilot, said there was a possibility of him returning to space. He explained that he had asked Al Merri, during his interview when he had applied for the mission, if the programme was sustainable.

Because as a pilot, Im changing my career, and its difficult to come back to being a pilot after this duration of being out of it. So it was my concern, is it a continuous programme; am I going to go only once or twice or three times.

And [Al Merri] said its a sustainable programme; and youre going [again] maybe in the future; it depends on your preparation and your health, Al Mansoori said.

He added that he and Al Neyadi will share our knowledge and amazing experience with everyone through outreach events, especially in the UAE and the region, focusing on their journey from selection to training, and Al Mansooris ISS mission.

So this is our next mission, until the next announcement for the next mission, and it will be announced from higher positions.

Al Neyadi, an engineer, also said in the future probably well have more missions.

Al Neyadi added: For the time being, one part of the mission has been accomplished, which is reaching space and coming back. The other part is to have an outreach, talk to the people, visit conferences and schools and universities and share the knowledge, and in the future probably well have more missions.

These kinds of missions need preparations and proper communication with counterparts like [US space agency] NASA and [Russian space agency] Roscosmos and other agencies. So I think its going to be a very exciting time in the near future.

Al Merri, who is assistant director general of Dubais Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre, said the UAE will in July 2020 launch its unmanned spacecraft, called Hope, to Mars. The probe, the first from the Arab world, will study the Martian atmosphere in unprecedented detail.

Also, in October 2020, Dubai will host the 71st edition of the International Astronautical Congress, marking the first time it will be held in the Arab world.

I think were lucky in the UAE, this is a golden age for space exploration, Al Merri said.

(Left to Right)Sultan Al Neyadi, Emirati Astronaut, and Hazzaa Al Mansoori, Emirati Astronaut, during the press conference at Dubai Government of Media Office in Dubai. 12th November 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit:

Media representatives durinng the press conference by Salem AL Marri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, Sultan Al Neyadi, Emirati Astronaut, Hazzaa Al Mansoori, Emirati Astronaut, and Saud Karmustaji, director of communications at MBRSC, at Dubai Government of Media Office in Dubai. 12th November 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit:

(Left to Right)Salem AL Marri, Head of the UAE Astronaut Programme, Sultan Al Neyadi, Emirati Astronaut, Hazzaa Al Mansoori, Emirati Astronaut, and Saud Karmustaji, director of communications at MBRSC, during the press conference at Dubai Government of Media Office in Dubai. 12th November 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit:

Hazzaa Al Mansoori, Emirati Astronaut, during the press conference at Dubai Government of Media Office in Dubai. 12th November 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News Image Credit:

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UAE to reveal next space mission soon, officials say - Gulf News

NASA Instrument to Probe Planet Clouds on European Mission – NASA Exoplanet Exploration and Discovery

NASA will contribute an instrument to a European space mission that will explore the atmospheres of hundreds of planets orbiting stars beyond our Sun, or exoplanets, for the first time.

The instrument, called the Contribution to ARIEL Spectroscopy of Exoplanets, or CASE, adds scientific capabilities to ESA's (the European Space Agency's) Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, or ARIEL, mission.

The ARIEL spacecraft with CASE on board is expected to launch in 2028. CASE will be managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, with JPL astrophysicist Mark Swain as the principal investigator.

"I am thrilled that NASA will partner with ESA in this historic mission to push the envelope in our understanding of what the atmospheres of exoplanets are made of, and how these planets form and evolve," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "The more information we have about exoplanets, the closer we get to understanding the origins of our solar system, and advancing our search for Earth-like planets elsewhere."

So far, scientists have found more than 4,000 confirmed exoplanets in the Milky Way. NASA's retired Kepler space telescope and active Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) are two observatories that have contributed to this count. These telescopes have discovered planets by observing brightness of a star's light dimming as a planet crosses its face, an event called a "transit." ARIEL, carrying CASE, will take planet-hunting through transits one step further, by delving deeper into planets already known to exist.

ARIEL will be able to see the chemical fingerprints, or "spectra," of a planet's atmosphere in the light of its star. To do this, the spacecraft will observe starlight streaming through the atmospheres of planets as they pass in front their stars, as well as light emitted by the planets' atmospheres just before and after they disappear behind their stars. These fingerprints will allow scientists to study the compositions, temperatures, and chemical processes in the atmospheres of the planets ARIEL observes.

These chemical fingerprints of exoplanet atmospheres are extremely faint. Identifying them is a huge challenge for astronomers, and requires a telescope to stare at individual stars for a long time. But many space observatories are multi-purpose, and must split up their time among different kinds of scientific investigations. ARIEL will be the first spacecraft fully devoted to observing hundreds of exoplanet atmospheres, looking to identify their contents, temperatures and chemical processes. The addition of CASE, which will observe clouds and hazes, will provide a more comprehensive picture of the exoplanet atmospheres ARIEL observes.

So far, telescopes have only been able to carefully probe the atmospheres of a handful of exoplanets to determine their chemistries. ARIEL's much larger, more diverse sample will enable scientists to look at these worlds not just as individual exotic objects, but as a population, and discover new trends in their commonalities and differences.

The CASE instrument will be sensitive to light at near-infrared wavelengths, which is invisible to human eyes, as well as visible light. This complements ARIEL's other instrument, called an infrared spectrometer, which operates at longer wavelengths. CASE will specifically look at exoplanets' clouds and hazes - determining how common they are, as well how they influence the compositions and other properties of planetary atmospheres. CASE will also allow measurements of each planet's albedo, the amount of light the planet reflects.

The spacecraft will focus on exceptionally hot planets in our galaxy, with temperatures greater than 600 degrees Fahrenheit (320 degrees Celsius). Such planets are more likely to transit their star than planets orbiting farther out, and their short orbital periods provide more opportunities to observe transits in a given period of time. More transits give astronomers more data, allowing them to reveal the weak chemical fingerprint of a planet's atmosphere.

ARIEL's hot planet population will include gas giants like Jupiter, as well as smaller gaseous planets called mini-Neptunes and rocky worlds bigger than our planet called super-Earths. While these planets are too hot to host life as we know it, they will tell us a lot about how planets and planetary systems form and evolve. Additionally the techniques and insights learned in studying exoplanets with ARIEL and CASE will be useful when scientists use future telescopes to look toward smaller, colder, rockier worlds with conditions that more closely resemble Earth's.

The CASE instrument consists of two detectors and associated electronics that contribute to ARIEL's guidance system. CASE takes advantage of the same detectors and electronics that NASA is contributing to ESA's Euclid mission, which will probe deep questions about the structure of the universe and its two biggest mystery components: dark matter and dark energy.

The ARIEL spacecraft with CASE on board will be in the same orbit as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which is expected to launch in 2021. Both will travel some 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth to a special point of gravitational stability called Lagrange Point 2. This location allows the spacecraft to circle the Sun along with the Earth, while using little fuel to maintain its orbit.

While Webb will also be capable of studying exoplanet atmospheres, and its instruments cover a similar range of light as ARIEL, Webb will target a smaller sample of exoplanets to study in greater detail. Because Webb's time will be divided, shared with investigations into other aspects of the universe, it will deliver detailed knowledge about particular exoplanets rather than surveying hundreds. ARIEL will launch several years after Webb, so it will be able to capitalize on lessons learned from Webb in terms of planning observations and selecting which planets to study.

"This is an exciting time for exoplanet science as we look toward the next generation of space telescopes and instruments," said Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division at NASA Headquarters, Washington. "CASE adds to an exceptional set of technologies that will help us better understand our place in the galaxy."

CASE is an Astrophysics Explorers Mission of Opportunity, managed by JPL. The Astrophysics Explorers Program is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

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NASA Instrument to Probe Planet Clouds on European Mission - NASA Exoplanet Exploration and Discovery