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NASA set to launch robotic rover to seek signs of past Martian life

The Japan Times

NASA is set to launch an ambitious mission to Mars on Thursday with the liftoff of its next-generation Perseverance rover, a six-wheeled robot tasked with deploying a mini helicopter, testing out equipment for future human missions and searching for traces of past Martian life. The $2.4 billion mission, slated for liftoff at 7:50 a.m. from Florida's Cape Canaveral, is planned as the U.S. space agency's ninth trek to the Martian surface. The United Arab Emirates and China separately this month launched probes to Mars in displays of their own technological prowess and ambition. Launching atop an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance, the car-sized Perseverance rover is expected to reach Mars next February. It is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists believe could hold traces of potential past microbial Martian life.

Wife of astronaut on SpaceX's historic Crew Dragon mission will pilot second launch

Daily Mail - Science & tech

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, whose husband Bob Behnken was one of two crew members aboard SpaceX's historic Crew Dragon mission in May, will pilot the commercial craft's second launch in the spring of 2021. McArthur and Behnken met as members of the Astronaut Class of 2000, and have a six-year-old son, Theodore. NASA on Tuesday announced the four-member crew for the second operational SpaceX Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station, which will be commanded by NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough. Joining the crew as specialists will be Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet. McArthur is seen training for the spring mission with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough.

'Deepfake' Nixon Video Discusses A Moon-Landing Disaster That Never Happened


It's a lot harder to recognize fake videos than you can imagine, including this President Richard ... [ ] Nixon deepfake about Apollo 11. Fifty-one years ago this week, the first moon landing took place. Two astronauts from Apollo 11 walked around on the lunar surface for a couple of hours, changing space exploration forever. Most people around the world accept this statement as truth, but there has always been an underbelly of society who (wrongly) think the moon landing in 1969 never happened. A new project shows the danger of how easy it is to spread fake news, through the power of a video related to the first moon landing.

The 20 best space movies you can launch right now


Although Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson would like to tell you otherwise, the vast majority of humans will never go anywhere near space. As well as tapping into a healthy dose of existential dread, space movies offer us a fleeting glimpse of planets and galaxies far beyond our wildest dreams, all from the safety of our own living rooms. So, we've tracked down the best of them. To make the list, the characters have to have actually travelled through space -- although Arrival is a great space-related movie, for instance, it doesn't make the cut because it's based on Earth; Contact, meanwhile, although largely Earth-based, does squeak in due to a bit of wormhole-based travel. From quests to reignite the sun to extraterrestrial struggles, and in no particular order, these are some of the best space movies out there... Spoiler alert: some of these people don't make it. With the sun dying, a team of astronauts attempts to save the planet by journeying through space to reignite it. Why should you watch it? Despite its stunning visuals and strong cast, Sunshine didn't do all that well at the box office. It was a bit of a flop, in fact.

NASA and JAXA designing a Toyota-made 'RV for the moon'

Daily Mail - Science & tech

NASA is set to send the first woman and next many to the moon in 2024 and has revealed what the crew will call home – an RV rover. The American space agency is ditching concepts of inflatable tents and underground bases, and is now looking at a pressurized surface vehicle. The space group recently joined efforts with Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which has been designing a six-wheeled, self-driving Toyota rover - providing Japan with a key role in the Artemis program. The RV-like rover will hold two people up to 14 days, allowing them to live and work inside while traveling across the moon. NASA recently joined efforts with Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which has been designing a six-wheeled, self-driving lunar rover with Toyota for two years - providing Japan with a key role in the Artemis program Mark Kirasich, the acting director of NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems, said in a video interview: 'The pressurized rover is really an incredible element, human element,' 'I have been in a lot of spacecraft on the ground, I have been in the International Space Station on the ground, this thing is the coolest element I've ever seen for people because they can live and work inside.' 'It's like a space station-esque, kind of a habitat for up to 14 days for two people, but it's on wheels and you can go places.'

Human AI collaboration


The wait is over: artificial intelligence (AI) is here. And despite apocalyptic predictions about workers being replaced by intelligent machines, leading organizations are taking a new tack: actively searching for strategies to integrate AI into teams to produce transformative business results. These "superteams" hold the promise of enabling organizations to reinvent themselves to create new value and meaning, while giving workers the potential to reinvent their careers in ways that help increase their value to the organization and their own employability. For organizations that still view AI mainly as an automation tool to reduce costs, connecting their AI initiatives with their efforts to craft more effective teams is a first step toward enabling humans and machines to work together in new, more productive ways. The Readiness Gap: Fifty-nine percent of organizations say the redesign of jobs to integrate AI technology is important or very important for their success over the next 12 to 18 months, but only 7 percent say they are very ready to address this trend.

NASA updates policies to protect the moon and Mars from human germs that may hitchhike on astronauts

Daily Mail - Science & tech

As NASA gears up to send humans to the moon and Mars it is also working on new advances to protect the space terrains from human germs. The American space agency released updates to its Planetary Protection Policies that provide new requirements for both astronaut and robotic missions. The added policies note that no biological matter is left on or around the moon, along with humans are to not contaminate any part of Mars with biological materials or return to Earth with germs from the Red Planet. The first woman and next man are set to head to the moon in 2024 and the first crewed mission to Mars is planned for the 2030s – and as early as 2035. The added policies note that no biological matter is left on or around the moon.

SpaceX Vs Blue Origin: Who Wins The Space Race


The space projects have been dominated by government bodies until we saw the ambitious companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin diving into this diverse area. These two are the most prominent names in the private space community and are often put on a face-off due to the similarity of its founders in other areas as well. Owned by two of the most powerful businessmen of all time -- Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, they have been on the competition radar for their interest in the area of autonomous vehicles. Similarly, in the space segment, while the two companies might look quite similar in its attempts to explore space, the ideology and the approach of these companies vary quite significantly. But one thing cannot be denied that they both are developing large, reusable vehicles capable of carrying people and satellites across space. While we have often heard about SpaceX's missions and launches over the past few years, Blue Origin does not come out to be so ambitious in gaining traction.

Are we making spacecraft too autonomous?

MIT Technology Review

Software has never played a more critical role in spaceflight. It has made it safer and more efficient, allowing a spacecraft to automatically adjust to changing conditions. According to Darrel Raines, a NASA engineer leading software development for the Orion deep space capsule, autonomy is particularly key for areas of "critical response time"--like the ascent of a rocket after liftoff, when a problem might require initiating an abort sequence in just a matter of seconds. Or in instances where the crew might be incapacitated for some reason. And increased autonomy is practically essential to making some forms of spaceflight even work.

NASA's New Moon-Bound Space Suits Will Get a Boost From AI


A few months ago, NASA unveiled its next-generation space suit that will be worn by astronauts when they return to the moon in 2024 as part of the agency's plan to establish a permanent human presence on the lunar surface. The Extravehicular Mobility Unit--or xEMU--is NASA's first major upgrade to its space suit in nearly 40 years and is designed to make life easier for astronauts who will spend a lot of time kicking up moon dust. It will allow them to bend and stretch in ways they couldn't before, easily don and doff the suit, swap out components for a better fit, and go months without making a repair. Instead, they're hidden away in the xEMU's portable life-support system, the astro backpack that turns the space suit from a bulky piece of fabric into a personal spacecraft. It handles the space suit's power, communications, oxygen supply, and temperature regulation so that astronauts can focus on important tasks like building launch pads out of pee concrete.