Driving Cassini: Doctoral Student Controls Spacecraft in Mission’s Final Days
By Jason Maderer – When the Cassini spacecraft plunges into Saturn on September 15 to end a nearly two-decade mission, Georgia Tech student Michael Staab will have a front row seat. It’s almost literally the driver’s seat.
Staab is working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California while pursuing his aerospace engineering doctoral degree in the distance learning program. He’s a Cassini Spacecraft Flight Controller, which means he’s one of only three people authorized to tell the machine what to do and where to go as it orbits Saturn.
The job is almost finished. Just before 8 a.m. (Atlanta time) on Friday, Staab will hear Cassini’s signal for the final time before it dives into the planet’s atmosphere, becoming a part of Saturn.
Prior to attending Georgia Tech, I was a flight test engineering intern at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California and, later, a test requirements and analysis engineer for Boeing in St. Louis. I had a lot of control room and operations experience, which is exactly what JPL was looking for.
The duty of a flight controller at JPL is fairly straight-forward; we possess absolute command and control authority of the spacecraft when tracking it through the Deep-Space Network. more> https://goo.gl/aAU76G
- Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance Receives $51 Million NIH Grant
- Rogue Wave Analysis Supports Investigation of the El Faro Sinking, John Toon
- Running Roaches, Flapping Moths Create a New Physics of Organisms, John Toon
- As ‘Flesh-Eating’ Leishmania Come Closer, a Vaccine Against Them Does, Too, Ben Brumfield
- Engineering Research Center Will Help Expand Use of Therapies Based on Living Cells, John Toon
- NSF Supports New Mentoring Initiative for Underrepresented Minority Faculty, John Toon
- New Research May Improve Communications During Natural Disasters, Albert Snedeker
- Was the Primordial Soup a Hearty Pre-Protein Stew? Ben Brumfield
- Tech in DC: Intersecting Science and Policy, Victor Rogers
Posted in Communication industry, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, Nature, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Ecology, Georgia Tech, Health, Industrial economy, Physics, Skills, Technology
Aalto-1 satellite sends first image
By Jaan Praks, Antti Kestilä – Launched on the morning of 23 June from India, the Aalto-1 satellite’s first month in space has gone according to plan.
‘We have run checks on the majority of the satellite’s systems and found that the devices are fully functional,’ Professor Jaan Praks, who is heading the satellite project, explains.
‘We have also downloaded the first image sent by Aalto-1, which is also the first ever image taken from a Finnish satellite. It was taken while on orbit over Norway at an altitude of about 500 kilometres. The image shows the Danish coast as well as a portion of the Norwegian coastline.
Unlike traditional cameras, which measure three colours, the hyperspectral camera is able to measure dozens of freely selected narrow color channels. For this reason, it can be utilised for example in surveying forest types, algae and vegetation and as a tool in geological research. more> https://goo.gl/QGMNGu
Posted in Broadband, Communication industry, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, Nature, Science, SPACE WATCH, Technology
Tagged Aalto University, Business improvement, Earth, Ecology, Leadership, Technology
By Raya Bidshahri – When it comes to climate change, government leaders and politicians must begin to think beyond their term limits and lifetimes. They must ask themselves not how they can serve their voters, but rather how they can contribute to our species’ progress. They must think beyond the short term economic benefits of fossil fuels, and consider the long term costs to our planet.
Climate change is considered one of the greatest threats to our species. If current trends continue, we can expect an increase in frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and heat waves. All of these pose a threat to crops, biodiversity, freshwater supplies and above all, human life.
Here are examples of a few countries leading the way.
Denmark: Considered the most climate-friendly country in the world, Denmark is on the path to be completely independent of fossil fuels by 2050.
China: Home to the world’s biggest solar farm, China is the world’s biggest investor in domestic solar energy and is also expanding its investments in renewable energies overseas.
France: Thanks to the production of nuclear energy, representing 80 percent of nationwide energy production, France has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions.
India: The nation is on the path to becoming the third-largest solar market in the world. Solar power has become cheaper than coal in India.
Sweden: Sweden has passed a law that obliges the government to cut all greenhouse emissions by 2045. With more than half of its energy coming from renewable sources and a very successful recycling program, the country leads many initiatives on climate change. more> https://goo.gl/PPrn3b
Posted in Economic development, Economy, Energy & emissions, Leadership, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Climate change, Ecology, extreme weather, Renewable energy
The Power Of Data: How Software Is Helping Keep Iceland’s Lights On
By Julie Khoo – There are many reasons to visit Iceland. This former Viking stronghold is now the most peaceful country and home to the happiest and most literate people in the world — one in 10 Icelanders on average reportedly has published a book.
A nation of glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls, Iceland is also, at least metaphorically, one of the greenest places, generating all of its electricity from renewable sources such as hydropower and geothermal energy.
The grid receives electricity from generators that move at a constant frequency, just like the merry-go-round. When a power-hungry load suddenly disconnects from a high-inertia grid with lots of generators, the grid frequency will barely change.
But when a generator or load goes offline in a low-inertia grid like the one in Iceland, Landsnet has to act quickly to return the frequency to its normal level.
This can be a real headache. If the frequency drops or climbs too quickly, it can knock down parts of the grid and cause power failures. It can even cause a geothermal power station to automatically disconnect from the grid to protect the equipment from large stresses. Dramatic changes in frequency can also create “electrical islands” as different areas on the grid react to the changes. This can lead to blackouts. more> https://goo.gl/LyyN60
Posted in Broadband, Economic development, Economy, Energy, Nature, Net, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Ecology, Electrical grid, GE, Geothermal energy, Industrial economy, Technology
Dam Powerful: These Engineers Are Connecting Hydropower To The Internet
By Tomas Kellner – There are many large waterways in North America. Then there’s the Saint Lawrence River, whose lumbering current links the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
Montreal, Quebec’s business capital with 1.7 million inhabitants, fits on an island sliced off from the mainland by the waterway and its tributaries. Just west of the city, the river’s surface is so wide it could pass for a sea.
This abundance of water is a clue to why Quebec has become one of the world’s leaders in carbon-free energy. Lakes and rivers here pack enough power to supply the 7 million Quebecois with 95 percent of the electricity they need.
“This country and this region really know how to run hydropower well,” says Anne McEntee, vice president for renewable energy services at GE Renewable Energy. “But there’s no reason why you cannot get even better. For decades, advances in hydro have primarily been on the physical side of things, being able to get more out of your physical assets through redesign and engineering. We are now looking at digital applications as the next advance.”
“Our new software allows us to observe how the physical components behave in real time.”
McEntee says the insights allow customers to adapt the turbine’s operations to the specific conditions on-site, rather than strictly follow the manual. “We can take into account the real water and flow conditions versus what it was designed to do,” she says. “This allows us to make use of the error tolerance and get more power when we need it, like when the price is favorable. We are constantly looking for opportunities to squeeze out 1, 2, 3 percent of efficiency.” more> https://goo.gl/PTA8xd
Posted in Broadband, Business, Economic development, Economy, Energy, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Broadband, Business improvement, Carbon-free energy, Ecology, GE, Productivity
Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die, Author: Garrett Graff.
By Mahita Gajanan – Raven Rock is the name of the military installation built in the late 1940s near Camp David, in case of disaster during the Cold War. As Graff’s subtitle indicates, not everyone was invited to take shelter.
“It’s too hard to keep people scared enough that every family will have a shelter,” Graff said. “The planners were like, ‘This is going to be too much to save America. So, we’re going to try to figure out how to save the idea of America.'”
As we think about Russia and North Korea, these questions are more relevant today,” he said. “We just don’t know what [Trump] is doing or who might be appointed to some of these secret roles after a catastrophic incident.”
Graff said plans for a nuclear disaster today “absolutely exist,” although they remain classified. more> https://goo.gl/G1DnyD
Posted in Book review, CONGRESS WATCH, EARTH WATCH, Economy, Education, Energy & emissions, History, Leadership, Media, Nature, Science, Technology
Tagged Catastrophe, Earth, Ecology, Government, Leadership, United States