October 2020 Archives

Top Interior official retaliated against whistleblower, watchdog says, The Hill

"The leader of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) retaliated against an employee who filed a complaint against him, according to an internal watchdog. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Interior Department said in a new report that [former NASA astronaut and] USGS Director James Reilly had agency personnel reassign someone who had complained about him to a different job and concluded that the reassignment "qualified as personnel action under the [Whistleblower Protection Act]."

Alleged Reprisal by USGS Director, USGS OIG

Keith's 28 October update: But wait, there's more:

- Trump official stalls polar bear study that could affect oil drilling in Alaska, Washington Post
- USGS chief: Coral killed by pineapples, goats (and climate), E&E News
- The Trump Team Has a Plan to Not Fight Climate Change, Wired
- Trump officials deleting mentions of 'climate change' from U.S. Geological Survey press releases, Science

Keith's note: Why does the NASA HQ STEM Engagement Office, NASA Wallops, and NASA Langley ignore this overtly space-themed activity that involves NASA employees - in Virginia? This 4-H activity is precisely the sort of new audience that NASA needs to be cultivating since they represent the "Artemis Generation" that NASA keeps talking about inspiring. I just asked Mike Kincaid, the AA at the STEM Engagement Office and HQ PAO NASA about this, FWIW.

The Occurrence of Rocky Habitable Zone Planets Around Solar-Like Stars from Kepler Data

"We present occurrence rates for rocky planets in the habitable zones (HZ) of main-sequence dwarf stars based on the Kepler DR25 planet candidate catalog and Gaia-based stellar properties. ... We estimate with 95% confidence that, on average, the nearest HZ planet around G and K dwarfs is about 6 pc away, and there are about 4 HZ rocky planets around G and K dwarfs within 10 pc of the Sun."

*"The term eta-Earth (also written as ZE) is defined as the mean number per star of rocky planets with between 1 and 1.5-2 Earth-radii that reside in the optimistic habitable zone (HZ) of their host star. Eta-Earth enters one formulation of the Drake equation, which endeavors to estimate the occurrence of intelligent life in the Galaxy; at the present time, it is usually calculated separately for each stellar spectral type. Thus, eta-Earth represents the occurrence rate of rocky planets in the optimistic HZ of different stars. The References present some values for eta Earth based on different statistical analyses of the data from the Kepler space telescope."

Source: Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

As Election Nears, Trump Makes a Final Push Against Climate Science, NY Times

"The Trump administration has recently removed the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation's premier scientific agency, installed new political staff who have questioned accepted facts about climate change and imposed stricter controls on communications at the agency. The moves threaten to stifle a major source of objective United States government information about climate change that underpins federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions and offer an indication of the direction the agency will take if President Trump wins re-election. An early sign of the shift came last month, when Erik Noble, a former White House policy adviser who had just been appointed NOAA's chief of staff, removed Craig McLean, the agency's acting chief scientist."

Top NOAA Scientist Fired After Asking Trump Appointees to Acknowledge Agency Scientific Integrity Policy, Daily Beast

"Noble responded the next day, "You no longer serve as the acting chief scientist for NOAA. Thank you for your service." In McLean's stead, Noble hired Ryan Maue, a former researcher for a libertarian think tank. Maue has previously said scientists have made overly dire predictions about climate change. Trump's administration has attempted to manipulate NOAA throughout his term."

- Chief of Staff Erik Noble Has Left NASA, Earlier post
- More Trump Staff Changes at NASA HQ (Update), Earlier post

NASA's Crew-1 commander to be sworn into U.S. Space Force from the International Space Station, Space News

"NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, a U.S. Air Force colonel and the commander of the upcoming SpaceX Crew Dragon mission, is transferring to the U.S. Space Force and is expected to be commissioned aboard the International Space Station. "If all goes well, we're looking to swear him into the Space Force from the International Space Station," said Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force."

Keith's note: Swearing in someone to get a new job elsewhere in the Federal government on the ISS may seem a little extreme - but why not. But wait: has anyone else's new job been announced like this from the ISS by the U.S.? Out of curiosity, since NASA is all about charging people for things being done on the ISS, who is paying for the crew times, comms, etc. involved in this announcement? That would make a fun FOIA request to file. NASA is supposed to be a civilian space agency. And I seem to recall from my days at NASA that Japan signed on to the ISS with the caveat that no military activities be conducted there. And yes, I know that many U.S. Astronauts still have military ties.

But since the Space Force came into existence, the once clear lines between civilian and military space seem to have become increasingly blurred - especially when the NASA Administrator makes repeated complimentary public statements about Space Force - with the ISS used as a backdrop for military recruiting commercials. Just sayin'

- Earlier Military space postings

Keith's 28 October update: I posted the following question to Jim Bridenstine at the AAS von Braun Symposium today: "NASA announced the presence of water on sunlit portions of the Moon. To use it ISRU will be required. Why has NASA not been talking about its extensive ISRU technology research in the wake of this announcement?" Bridenstine replied "Keith is right on. We need to put a focus on that. We formed the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium and brought in expertise from outside NASA ... NASA may or may not have all the answers so we're bringing people in from outside." He then went through a long list of technologies needed to do ISRU on the lunar surface.

Keith's 27 October note: Last week NASA started to hype an "exciting" announcement about the Moon (that's the word they used). OK - so yesterday's news more or less passes the "exciting" threshold. So - what does NASA do to follow up on the importance of this discovery to "sustainable" lunar presence that Jim Bridenstine talks about? Nothing. They had a week to dig up follow-on stories and contributing research and present them so as to build upon this news. But nevermind - that would suggest that NASA has a consistent whole-agency strategy for this whole Artemis thing.

Lunar ISRU 2019: Developing a New Space Economy Through Lunar Resources and Their Utilization Workshop Report

"Background: The United States has an ambitious plan to get humans to the Moon to stay and to get humans to Mars. Technologies to extract and process lunar resources still need to be demonstrated but architectures that make use of these resources will lead to eventual sustainability, even if initially the "resources" need to be brought from Earth. Care must be taken to not accept architectures that preclude future use of ISRU resources in order to meet early mission goals."

- Looks Like The Moon Has Water All Over The Place, earlier post
- "Exciting" Moon News. More Water?, earlier post

Keith's note: False alarm. Nothing interesting. This is what the dead lander had to say: Philae's second touchdown site discovered at 'skull-top' ridge. FWIW teasing the media is the best way to have reporters start to ignore these please to pay attention to "news". Just sayin'

No Phosphine In The Atmosphere Of Venus

"The detection of phosphine (PH3) has been recently reported in the atmosphere of Venus employing mm-wave radio observations (Greaves et at. 2020). We here demonstrate that the observed PH3 feature with JCMT can be fully explained employing plausible mesospheric SO2 abundances (~100 ppbv as per the SO2 profile given in their figure 9), while the identification of PH3 in the ALMA data should be considered invalid due to severe baseline calibration issues. We demonstrate this by independently calibrating and analyzing the ALMA data using different interferometric analysis tools, in which we observe no PH3 in all cases."

- Phosphine Detected In The Atmosphere of Venus - An Indicator of Possible Life?, earlier post
- Re-analysis Of The 267-GHz ALMA Observations of Venus: No Statistically Significant Detection Of Phosphine, earlier post
- A Stringent Upper Limit Of The PH3 (Phosphine) Abundance At The Cloud Top Of Venus , earlier post
- Hypothesis Perspectives: Might Active Volcanisms Today Contribute To The Presence Of Phosphine In Venus's Atmosphere?, earlier post
- Phosphine On Venus Cannot Be Explained By Conventional Processes, earlier post
- Phosphine Gas in the Cloud Decks of Venus, earlier post
- Possible Marker Of Life Spotted On Venus, earlier post

Trump Administration Releases Science and Technology Accomplishments from First Term, OSTP

"RETURNING TO SPACE EXPLORATION: Since reviving the National Space Council, President Trump established a whole-of-government effort to lead again in human space exploration, safeguard the space environment, promote national security, and streamline regulations to foster commercial space activities."

Advancing America's Global Leadership in Science & Technology - Trump Administration Highlights: 2017-2020 (report)

Keith's note: But wait: while OSTP's Director Kelvin Droegemeier crows about accomplishments in various areas of science and technology, there is this glowing error that is wholly untrue - one which should, at a minimum - cause you to question the veracity of claims made by OSTP i.e. "ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC". The pandemic has not been ended. Not even close since it is entering its most harrowing phase. To even suggest otherwise is to spew demonstrably false propaganda.

White House science office takes credit for 'ending' pandemic as infections mount, Politico

"The White House's science policy office on Tuesday ranked "ending the Covid-19 pandemic" atop the list of President Donald Trump's top first-term accomplishments, even as the country registers record amounts of infections and hospitals fill up again."

Trump Administration Releases Science and Technology Accomplishments from First Term, OSTP

"Highlights include: ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease."

NASA OIG: NASA's Management Of Its Acquisition Workforce

"In addition, 95 percent of NASA's certified acquisition workforce met continuous learning requirements needed to maintain their certification in the reporting periods we evaluated. However, the Agency's migration to the Federal Acquisition Institute Training Application System (FAITAS), the official system of record for acquisition programs, is incomplete. As such, NASA relies on multiple systems and stakeholders to manage these certification programs, reducing the Agency's ability to fully validate the accuracy and completeness of workforce certification and training data."

NASA, European Space Agency Formalize Artemis Gateway Partnership, NASA

"NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have finalized an agreement to collaborate on the Artemis Gateway. This agreement is an important element in a broad effort by the United States to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration and to demonstrate technologies necessary for a future human mission to Mars. The agreement, signed Tuesday, marks NASA's first formal commitment to launch international crew members to the lunar vicinity as part of NASA's Artemis missions."

ESA and NASA Sign Gateway MOU, ESA

"The historic agreement will see ESA Member States contribute a number of essential elements to the first human outpost in lunar orbit, known as the Gateway. It confirms ESA's commitment to delivering at least two European Service Modules that provide electricity, water, oxygen and nitrogen to NASA's Orion spacecraft - with more to come. ESA will also receive three flight opportunities for European astronauts to travel to and work on the Gateway."

NASA's SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon, NASA

"NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places. SOFIA has detected water molecules (H2O) in Clavius Crater, one of the largest craters visible from Earth, located in the Moon's southern hemisphere. Previous observations of the Moon's surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish between water and its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH). Data from this location reveal water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million - roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water - trapped in a cubic meter of soil spread across the lunar surface."

Keith's note: I asked Jacob Bleacher: "Now that water seems to be a ubiquitous resource, one would think that the polar focus might pivot. Are you reconsidering landing sites as a result of this discovery? Up until now the Artemis program has put forth a persistent mantra about focusing human landings at the lunar south pole due to potential water resources. It has been polar, polar, polar." Bleacher replied that sunlight access more than half the time is also being sought in terms of power and you get that at the poles. "Water is one resource on the lunar resource but it is not the only resource - right now we are still focused on south polar region."

NASA to Announce New Science Results About Moon

"NASA will announce an exciting new discovery about the Moon from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) at a media teleconference at 12 p.m. EDT Monday, Oct. 26. Audio of the teleconference will stream live on the agency's website."

Keith's note: OK, let's use Google. Look what shows up if you search for some names, Moon, and SOFIA. Gee, I wonder if the "exciting" news has to do with water on the Moon.

INFRARED REMOTE SENSING OF VOLATILE COMPONENTS ON THE EARTH AND MOON, Casey I. Honniball, PhD Dissertation

"However, we developed a new approach to detect the actual water molecule on the Moon using observations at 6 µm, based on how geologists detect H2O in samples in the lab using infrared spectroscopy. Observations at 6 µm are only possible from an airborne infrared observatory, we were granted time on the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) to collect data of the Moon. Using data from SOFIA we report the first direct detection of the water molecule on the illuminated lunar surface."

Lunar Observations from SOFIA: Recent Results and Next Plans

"Date: Monday, October 26, 2020 - 12:30pm PDT Speaker: Casey Honniball - Bill Reach Affiliation: NASA Goddard - SOFIA/USRA"

A Clearer Look at Lunar Surface Hydration, AGU

"Using the thermally corrected IRTF data, the authors confirm the temperature-dependent variation of hydration on the lunar surface. The surface appears less hydrated closer to local noon, at which time the surface reaches its maximum temperature. They also observe a latitudinal dependence, with more hydration appearing at higher latitudes, particularly in the southern hemisphere."

Of course, there is the ongoing issue of somewhat underwhelming support for SOFIA - and I guess they could use some good news - hence the hype. ARC, GSFC and USRA are really rolling out the red carpet for this "exciting" news. Stay tuned.

The Future Is Here, Y'all

Trump issues sweeping order for tens of thousands of career federal employees to lose civil service protections, Washington Post

"President Trump this week fired his biggest broadside yet against the federal bureaucracy by issuing an executive order that would remove job security from an estimated tens of thousands of civil servants and dramatically remake the government. The directive, issued late Wednesday, strips long-held civil service protections from employees whose work involves policymaking, allowing them to be dismissed with little cause or recourse, much like the political appointees who come and go with each administration. Federal scientists, attorneys, regulators, public health experts and many others in senior roles would lose rights to due process and in some cases, union representation, at agencies across the government. ... the most likely targets would be employees at the highest level of the General Schedule below that, GS-13, -14 and -15. ... The order would not affect the roughly 6,000 senior executives in the government. But experts on the civil service said the most likely targets would be employees at the highest level of the General Schedule below that, GS-13, -14 and -15."

Trump signs executive order that critics warn politicizes federal career civil service, CNN

"Max Stier, the head of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, which seeks to fix government, argued, "Being able to place any number of existing career positions into this new Schedule F not only blurs the line between politics and the neutral competency of the career civil service, it obliterates it."

'Stunning' Executive Order Would Politicize Civil Service, Government Executive

"The order sets a swift timetable for implementation: Agencies have 90 days to conduct a "preliminary" review of their workforces to determine who should be moved into the new employee classification--a deadline that coincides with Jan. 19, the day before the next presidential inauguration."

Trump's historic assault on the civil service was four years in the making, Washington Post

"President Trump's extraordinary directive allowing his administration to weed out career federal employees viewed as disloyal in a second term is the product of a four-year campaign by conservatives working from a ­little-known West Wing policy shop."

Keith's note: Just when everyone is totally stressed out from trying to hold their agencies together from home - during a global pandemic - the White House drops this little gem on everyone. If you are not loyal to the current regime you now risk being penalized or fired.

OK, now everyone needs to get back to their job of exploring the universe - while everything else falls apart back here on Earth.

Keith's note: The best way to ensure that space exploration is allowed to proceed in the way that it should is for everyone to just sit down and shut up. It never fares well when injected into presidential campaigns. When space is put along side something else or emphasized instead of something else invariably you get "what about [insert other issue] instead of space". Oh yes: "manned presence"? "Manned mission to Mars"? So much for the whole "first woman on the Moon" thing.

COVID-19--The largest isolation study in history: the value of shared learnings from spaceflight analogs, Nature (Open source)

"The world is currently experiencing the largest isolation experiment in history. In an attempt to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic numerous countries across the world have been shutting down economies, education, and public life. Governments have mandated strict regulations of quarantine and social distancing in an unprecedented manner. The effects of these measures on brain, behavior, neuro-humoral and immunological responses in humans are largely unknown. Life science research for space exploration has a long history in using high-fidelity spaceflight analogs to better understand the effect of prolonged isolation and confinement on genes, molecules, cells, neural circuits, and physiological systems to behavior. We here propose to leverage the extensive experience and data from these studies and build a bridge between spaceflight research and clinical settings to foster transdisciplinary approaches to characterize the neurobehavioral effects on the immune system and vice versa. These approaches are expected to develop innovative and efficient health screening tools, diagnostic systems, and treatments to mitigate health risks associated with isolation and confinement on Earth and during future exploratory spaceflight missions."

Keith's note: For NASA: This week's NASA Spaceline just came out and this article is listed. DLR and ESA supported it and IBMP and NASA data were used - so this is an international effort. Not that the ISS was just waiting for COVID-19 to happen so as to justify its existence, but there are some real parallels between LEO and deep space exploration and the way that people are currently working in isolation on Earth due to COVID-19. If you want to make the ISS seen as being relevant to real world issues (and vice versa) then making more prominent mention of research space medicine/space biology such as this is an option you might consider.

Everyone on Earth is participating in a long duration space travel isolation analog to some extent. We all wish it would end, but since we're going to be in this situation for quite some time to come perhaps there is something that NASA can offer to foster an understanding of what people in isolation are going through - and that people going through this experience may have something to offer to NASA in response.

On-orbit Democracy Ops

Offworld Voting

"From the International Space Station: I voted today

-- Kate Rubins"

Senior space officials met to "war game" Biden administration space policy, Ars Technica

"On Tuesday about a dozen space officials met virtually to simulate how a National Space Council might operate during a Joe Biden administration, should the Democratic Party nominee win the 2020 presidential election. The American Foreign Policy Council convened what it characterized as a "closed-door" and "scenario-based simulation" to understand how the Biden administration would think through important space events. Invitations were sent to officials in the aerospace industry whom the Biden administration might call upon as advisers or to fill key leadership roles. The event was not organized at the behest of the Biden campaign."

Keith's note: The American Foreign Policy Council is a conservative non-profit with zero influence on Democratic activities. Zero. Newt Gingrich is on its advisory board. Tick tock. Eric Berger's reporting is spot on. As he notes the Biden campaign had nothing to do with this event. As such, anything that emerged from their "war games" amounts to little more than a game of "you sank my battleship". These sort of things always happen in Washington, DC during election times. If no concrete policy emerges on a specific topic, the usual suspects feel compelled to go off and look like they are creating one. That is what is going on here. Also, a few people are also jockeying for jobs (like chairing the National Space Council). When Team Biden has a space policy we'll all hear about it in broad daylight - not cloistered shadows.

Soyuz Crew Returns To Earth

Chris Cassidy, Ivan Vagner, and Anatoly Ivanishin Return To Earth

"After 196 days living and working in Earth's orbit aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy returned from his third space mission Wednesday, Oct. 21, with cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The crew departed the station at 7:32 p.m. EDT Wednesday and landed just south of the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 10:54 p.m. (8:54 a.m. Kazakhstan time)."

Wicker Introduces Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency Act

"U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today introduced the Space Preservation and Conjunction Emergency (SPACE) Act. The legislation would authorize the Department of Commerce (DOC) to provide space situational awareness (SSA) services to civil, commercial, and international space operators."

OSIRIS-REx Samples Asteroid Bennu

"NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm Tuesday, and in a first for the agency, briefly touched an asteroid to collect dust and pebbles from the surface for delivery to Earth in 2023. This well-preserved, ancient asteroid, known as Bennu, is currently more than 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) from Earth. Bennu offers scientists a window into the early solar system as it was first taking shape billions of years ago and flinging ingredients that could have helped seed life on Earth. If Tuesday's sample collection event, known as "Touch-And-Go" (TAG), provided enough of a sample, mission teams will command the spacecraft to begin stowing the precious primordial cargo to begin its journey back to Earth in March 2021. Otherwise, they will prepare for another attempt in January."

Gordon Woodcock

Keith's note: Sources report that Gordon Woodcock has died. A long time employee of Boeing, Woodcock had a hand in virtually every type of space project you can imagine over the years. Although he retired from Boeing in 1996, he never really retired and became a fixture in the space community. His career spanned many decades and he influenced a lot of people in the space industry. Details to follow. Ad Astra.

- Bio, NSS
- Gordon Roy Woodcock, Legacy.com

Keith's note: Depending on the election results a week earlier this could be moot.

Keith's note: My question to the 1:00 pm Asteroid mission media telecon: "There is a lot of talk these days from NASA about the collection and utilization of resources in the solar system - indeed, the recently signed #Artemis Accords specifically deal with this issue with regard to the Moon, Mars, Asteroids, and comets. Is the OSIRIS-Rex sample collection system open source - can other space agencies or companies use this technology? Is it being considered for use on other missions? Same question about the Lucy, Psyche and DART systems."

With regard to OSIRIS-Rex Lori Glaz said that NASA needs to check. Regarding the Psyche mission Lindy Elkins-Tanton said that it is being done via a partnership with Maxnar who was selected because they have a lot of experience over a hundred spacecraft. The hope is that the design of the mission will be available to future missions. Regarding Lucy, Hal Levison said that a lot of the hardware is proprietary to Lockheed Martin and is based on flown hardware to reduce costs. No mention was made regarding DART technology.

Keith's update: At the 3:00 pm briefing I re-asked the question of SMD AA Thomas Zurbuchen adding: "NASA is going to do something that it has never done before with applicability to many future missions and activities in space - things that have been called out in the Artemis Accords. Many of the missions you are sending out are technology demonstrators. If you are sending a thing to a world with the specific task of demonstrating a way to do something new on that world, then the results - and the way you got them - are of equal importance - and the Artemis Accords would seem to want you to make a lot of that information accessible. Is NASA going to make OSIRIS-Rex technology available in an open source fashion for other agencies - and perhaps companies - to use? I know there is a difference between scientific results and engineering performance and that there are always ITAR issues. How is the dissemination of this new technology going to evolve?"

He replied: "We have been a leader internationally in making things public. We are also making our models public. We believe in the dissemination of science since that speeds up discovery and also broadens it. We think that doing so inspires people to figure out things to do with our science in ways that we would have never thought to do. There were multiple solutions to the technology needed for this mission. In this case the arm was developed by a Lockheed Martin employee - so according to U.S. law the company owns that invention. I talked to Lockheed Martin and asked what they'd do if someone was interested in the design and they said to come on in since they are interested in spreading this technology. There are many different avenues to take regarding intellectual property (IP). IP is an important ingredient of pharmaceutical discovery. If we want to encourage the speed of discovery then we need a IP model that adapts to way that this actually works. Success for us at NASA is not just that the mission is successful. We want any company that can use the technology that we have developed to enhance business base to create more jobs around the country. In that regard I think we are consistent with the Artemis Accords."

Colorado Fire Update

Keith's note: As you all probably know there are a lot of space and planetary science and aerospace folks who live in Colorado. You can track the Boulder area fires here and Larimer county fires here.

NASA Detects Lattice Confinement Fusion, NASA GRC

"A team of NASA researchers seeking a new energy source for deep-space exploration missions, recently revealed a method for triggering nuclear fusion in the space between the atoms of a metal solid. Their research was published in two peer-reviewed papers in the top journal in the field, Physical Review C, Volume 101 (April, 2020): "Nuclear fusion reactions in deuterated metals" and "Novel nuclear reactions observed in bremsstrahlung-irradiated deuterated metals. ... With more study and development, future applications could include power systems for long-duration space exploration missions or in-space propulsion. It also could be used on Earth for electrical power or creating medical isotopes for nuclear medicine."

Keith's note: As you know I have been posting Cold Fusion sightings on NASAWatch for years. NASA Glenn and Langley have had some folks working on this for years. They usually use center director's discretionary funds or other funding sources that require little scrutiny from the normal research funding process. And they make big claims for their research but they rarely have proof to back up their claims. Now it seems that these folks have published in peer reviewed journals in April 2020. The implications, as mention on this official NASA web page could be profound. So, assuming that everything mentioned in this NASA GRC post and the associated papers is true, then why has NASA been silent about this? Seriously, this would be one heck of a spinoff for NASA to crow about. Does NASA HQ not know about this? Do they know but do not care? Or is there still something missing that makes this whole thing a real solution to space travel?

- Earlier Cold Fusion Postings

NASA: Request for Public Nominations for Authors and Scientific/ Technical Inputs and Notice of Planned Public Engagement Opportunities for the Fifth National Climate Assessment, NASA

"NASA, on behalf of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is soliciting nominations for authors and scientific/ technical inputs for the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5). Refer to the NCA5 Draft Prospectus (presented in a previous Federal Register Notice and accessible via www.globalchange.gov/notices) for further information on the scope, topics, and overarching themes for the report. This document also serves as a notice of planned public engagement opportunities. NCA5 will adhere to the Global Change Research Act (GCRA), Information Quality Act, and Evidence Act requirements for quality, transparency, and accessibility as appropriate for a Highly Influential Scientific Assessment."

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces Historic Commercial Space Transportation Reforms, FAA

"U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced the publication of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Streamlined Launch and Reentry Licensing Requirements Final Rule for commercial space transportation launches and reentries. "This historic, comprehensive update to commercial space launch and reentry licensing requirements facilitates greater growth in this industry and helps America to maintain our #1 position in the world," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. This rule modernizes the way FAA regulates and licenses commercial space operations and allows the burgeoning aerospace industry to continue to innovate and grow, while maintaining public safety."

HeroX Helps NASA Advance Lunar Exploration with a Miniaturized Payload Prototype Challenge, HeroX

"HeroX, the world's leading platform for crowdsourced solutions, today launched the crowdsourcing competition "Honey I Built the NASA Payload, The Sequel" on behalf of the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The challenge seeks to develop miniature payload prototypes that can be sent to the Moon to help fill gaps in lunar knowledge. Lunar resources are potentially abounding, and these prototypes can also help discover some of these key resources scientists think might be on the Moon."

Keith's note: This stuff is cool. NASA should do more of it. But, coolness, aside, NASA is not interested in making any mention if it as far as I can tell. If you go to the NASA Tournament Lab website no mention of this new challenge is made. Indeed the page was last updated on 9 July 2020. This NASA Tournament Lab is apparently run by the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation (CoECI) at JSC in collaboration with Harvard University - they do not mention this challenge either. Nor does SMD, HEOMD, STMD, or the Artemis web page. And the official Twitter account @nasa_ntl and the main NASA Twitter account for these sort of things at @NASASolve have not made any mention either.

Why hold these cool events if you don't bother to tell people about them, NASA?

Why Nature supports Joe Biden for US president, Nature

"No president in recent history has tried to politicize government agencies and purge them of scientific expertise on the scale undertaken by this one. The Trump administration's actions are accelerating climate change, razing wilderness, fouling air and killing more wildlife -- as well as people."

Dying in a Leadership Vacuum, New England Journal of Medicine

"The United States came into this crisis with enormous advantages. Along with tremendous manufacturing capacity, we have a biomedical research system that is the envy of the world. We have enormous expertise in public health, health policy, and basic biology and have consistently been able to turn that expertise into new therapies and preventive measures. And much of that national expertise resides in government institutions. Yet our leaders have largely chosen to ignore and even denigrate experts."

Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden, Scientific American

"It is not certain how many of these and his other ambitions Biden will be able to accomplish; much depends on laws to be written and passed by Congress. But he is acutely aware that we must heed the abundant research showing ways to recover from our present crises and successfully cope with future challenges."

NASA has announced the addition of seven additional countries as signatories of the Artemis Accords (text): Australia, Canada, Italy, Luxembourg, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. The announcement was made today by NASA Administrator Bridenstine at the International Astronautics Conference. Bridenstine and Acting Associate Administrator for International and Interagency Relations Mike Gold held a press briefing in advance of the announcement.

The Artemis Accords were first announced by NASA in May 2020. These Accords are statements of principle and guidelines for behavior on the Moon and other locations in our solar system. They are built upon - and cite as references - earlier international agreements including the historic Outer Space Treaty first signed in 1967.

The Artemis Accords were originally announced by NASA but then went through a series of reviews and comments by a variety of nations and interested parties. The revised version that resulted is what these seven nations have signed onto.

- NASA Space Apps Challenge: An Underutilized Tool For Global Reach, earlier post
- How NASA Uses DIME/Soft Power To Extend A Global Reach (Update), earlier post
- Understanding NASA's Global Reach, earlier post
- NASA's Global Branding Reach Is Often Under Appreciated, earlier post

Keith's note: This audit is stating the obvious. Its nice to see that OIG has finally decided to audit "NASA's cost estimating and reporting practices for large, multi-mission programs" given that all of its audits of "NASA's cost estimating and reporting practices for large, multi-mission programs" have demonstrated that these practices are woefully broken and have been for decades. I guess it is better late than never to start studying the core cause whereby all of these NASA programs are over cost and behind schedule year after year after year.

Space Force considers merging Cape Canaveral with Kennedy Space Center, Ars Technica

"Would NASA be willing to listen as well? The space agency administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said yes. "I'm glad to see big ideas being proposed such as a potential merger," he told Ars. "This, and other ambitious concepts for the future should all be given due consideration. However, such a proposed merger would require a great deal of work and effort. For the time being, NASA will continue to focus on enhancing the efficiencies and capabilities at our existing launch facility. Our team at KSC has already done a great job creating a thriving spaceport to serve both NASA and commercial needs."

Keith's note: Every time you turn around it seems that Space Force is trying to grab a piece of NASA's turf. First it was floating the idea of putting military soldiers in orbit and on the Moon, now they want to start grabbing NASA launch facilities. I get the whole efficiency thing but it sure sounds like Space Force is in the driver's seat on these ideas and NASA is playing catch-up in responding to them. The idea originated with Space Force because of their needs - not NASA's. NASA did not seek out this activity. Funny how everything works just fine for 60 years - then Space Force appears and starts to try and change everything to suit their needs. Just sayin'.

- Space Force Says That It Plans To Send Troops To The Moon, earlier post
- NASA And Space Force Are Collaborating, earlier post
- Space Force Fans Want To Implement The "Green Agenda", earlier post
- Space Force Is Obsessed With Being Space Force, earlier post
- Military Space Guys Argue Over The Whole Space Force Rank Thing, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Be Star Fleet, earlier post
- Now Space Force Wants Its Own Starfleet Admirals, earlier post
- Space Force Really Wants To Take Over All Of NASA's Stuff, earlier post
- TV's Space Force Looks Like More Fun Than The Real One (Or Artemis), earlier post
- More Space Force postings

House space subcommittee chair still seeking NASA plan for 2024 lunar landing, Space News

"The chair of the House space subcommittee says NASA has still not convinced her that the agency has a viable plan to return humans to the moon by 2024. Speaking at a Wilson Center event Oct. 6 about the geopolitics of space, Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) said she was waiting to see a plan from NASA that explained how the agency's Artemis program could meet its goal of a human return to the lunar surface in four years. "We still haven't seen a plan that shows us we can get to the moon on the 2024 schedule," she said, including the ability of NASA to manage "multiple, simultaneous, large" development programs and the various demonstrations leading up to that crewed landing."

Keith's note: Actually NASA did issue a thing with the word "plan" in it except it skips the whole concept of answering important questions as to how it will actually happen.

- Important Artemis Questions Will Be Answered Today (Update), earlier post
- House Appropriators Just Made Doing Artemis Landing More Difficult, earlier post
- NASA Hits The Pause Button Again On The Back-To-The-Moon Thing (Update), earlier post
- NASA Releases Its Artemis "Plan" - 5 Months Late, earlier post
- NASA Really Really Needs An Artemis Plan - Soon, earlier post
- Where Is NASA's Plan For Sustainable Moon/Mars Exploration? (Update), earlier post

Keith's note: Let's hope that the SLS hardware weathers the storm.

NASA Weekly Update from the Administrator - Oct. 5, 2020

"Shout Out: NASA's International Space Apps Challenge concluded yesterday, and it was a huge success! This 9th annual hackathon invited designers, coders and programmers to use NASA, and partner space agency, data to tackle real-world problems. The Science Mission Directorate led this fantastic effort, which drew more than 26,000 participants from around the world. Thank you to everyone on the team who helped make this a great event."

James Webb Space Telescope Completes Environmental Testing

"With the completion of its latest series of milestone tests, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has now survived all of the harsh conditions associated with a rocket launch to space. Webb's recent tests have validated that the fully assembled observatory will endure the deafening noise, and the jarring shakes, rattles and vibrations that the observatory will experience during liftoff. Known as "acoustic" and "sine-vibration" testing, NASA has worked carefully with its international partners to match Webb's testing environment precisely to what Webb will experience both on launch day, and when operating in orbit."

Eddie Van Halen

Keith's note: There is one scene from the movie "Mission to Mars" where the crew is playing Van Halen LOUD inside their centrifuge. This is the only realistic thing about this otherwise silly movie - If I were on that mission I would totally do that. Often.

- Boeing Really Needs To Get Their Software Fixed, earlier post
- ASAP: Boeing Starliner Software Issue Potentially "Catastrophic", earlier post
- Boeing Dropped The Ball Again - And NASA Let Them, earlier post
- SLS Upper Stage Changes While Software Problems Linger , earlier post
- SLS Software Problems Continue at MSFC, earlier post
- This Is How NASA Covers Up SLS Software Safety Issues (Update), earlier post
- MSFC To Safety Contractor: Just Ignore Those SLS Software Issues, earlier post
- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues Continue at MSFC, earlier post
- SLS Flight Software Safety Issues at MSFC (Update), earlier post
- Previous SLS postings


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