Adding to the growing list of commercial deliveries slated to explore more of the Moon than ever before under Artemis, NASA has selected two new science instrument suites, including one that will study the mysterious Gruithuisen Domes for the first time.
These payload suites mark the second selection through the agency’s Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) call for proposals. Both payloads will be delivered to the lunar surface on future flights through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, which is one part of the agency’s larger lunar exploration architecture planned for this decade.
“The two selected studies will address important scientific questions related to the Moon” said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “The first will study geologic processes of early planetary bodies that are preserved on the Moon, by investigating a rare form of lunar volcanism. The second will study the effects of the Moon’s low gravity and radiation environment on yeast, a model organism used to understand DNA damage response and repair.”
The Lunar Vulkan Imaging and Spectroscopy Explorer (Lunar-VISE) investigation consists of a suite of five instruments, two of which will be mounted on a stationary lander and three mounted on a mobile rover to be provided as a service by the CLPS vendor.
Over the course of 10 Earth days (one lunar day), Lunar-VISE will explore the summit of one of the Gruithuisen Domes. These domes are suspected to have been formed by a sticky magma rich in silica, similar in composition to granite. On Earth, formations like these need oceans of liquid water and plate tectonics to form, but without these key ingredients on the Moon, lunar scientists have been left to wonder how these domes formed and evolved over time.
By analyzing the lunar regolith at the top of one of these domes, the data collected and returned by Lunar-VISE’s instruments will help scientists answer fundamental open questions regarding how these formations came to be. The data also will help inform future robotic and human missions to the Moon. Dr. Kerri Donaldson Hanna of the University of Central Florida will lead this payload suite.
The second selected investigation, the Lunar Explorer Instrument for space biology Applications (LEIA) science suite, is a small CubeSat-based device. LEIA will provide biological research on the Moon – which cannot be simulated or replicated with high fidelity on the Earth or International Space Station – by delivering the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to the lunar surface and studying its response to radiation and lunar gravity. S. cerevisiae is an important model of human biology, especially in the areas of genetics, cellular and molecular replication and division processes, and DNA damage response to environmental factors such as radiation. The data returned by LEIA, in conjunction with previously existing data from other biological studies, could help scientists answer a decades-old question of how partial gravity and actual deep space radiation in combination influence biological processes. Dr. Andrew Settles of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California will lead the LEIA payload suite.
With these selections in place, NASA will work with the CLPS office at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to issue task orders to deliver these payload suites to the Moon in the 2026 timeframe.
For these payload suites, the agency also has selected two project scientists to coordinate science activities for the selected instrument suites, including working with the payloads on landing site selection, developing concepts of operations, and archiving science data acquired during surface operations. Dr. John Karcz of NASA Ames Research Center in California will coordinate the Lunar-VISE investigation suite for delivery to the Gruithuisen Domes, and Dr. Cindy Young of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will coordinate the LEIA investigation suite for delivery.
CLPS is a key part of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans. The science and technology payloads sent to the Moon’s surface will help lay the foundation for human missions on and around the Moon. The agency has made seven task order awards to CLPS providers for lunar deliveries between in the early 2020s with more delivery awards expected through 2028.
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Boom Partners with Latecoere for Supersonic Aircraft EWIS Architecture
Boom teams up with Latecoere to redefine EWIS architecture for supersonic aircraft, bringing together expertise for optimal safety and reliability.
Boom, the innovative aerospace company, has announced its collaboration with global aerospace leader Latecoere as part of its expanding network of suppliers. Latecoere’s engineering team in Toulouse, France, will work in conjunction with Boom engineers to define the complete electrical wiring interconnection system (EWIS) architecture for both Overture and Symphony aircraft.
Latecoere’s expertise in developing and manufacturing certifiable EWIS and advanced aircraft technologies makes them a valuable addition to Boom’s lineup of suppliers for Overture. The EWIS for these aircraft will consist of an extensive 103 kilometers (64 miles) of wiring, encompassing over 45,000 electrical connections. This comprehensive system ensures optimal safety and reliability for Overture and Symphony.
Latecoere brings years of experience in complex aircraft development processes and methods, making them an ideal partner for Boom. The company’s industry-leading harness architecture definition software stack will be leveraged to support Boom’s ambitious goals in sustainable supersonic air travel.
By collaborating with top-tier suppliers like Latecoere, Boom is demonstrating its commitment to assembling a world-class team to make supersonic air travel a reality. Latecoere’s CEO, Greg Huttner, expressed pride in supporting Boom’s vision and continuing to contribute to the development of next-generation flight. This partnership is a significant step forward in the advancement of supersonic aviation technology.
Sandra Day O’Connor Institute Mourns Passing of Founder
PHOENIX (Newswire.com) – The namesake organization founded by the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court is mourning the loss of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
“No words can describe the profound loss of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The organization she founded remains resolute and will redouble our efforts to continue her lifetime work and extraordinary legacy,” said Gay Firestone Wray, Board of Directors Co-Chair.
The Institute will carry on its mission to further the distinguished legacy and lifetime work of Justice O’Connor to advance American democracy through civil discourse, civic engagement, and civics education.
“From our organization’s founding in 2009 following her retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor led our organization with vision and intellect, and she exemplified our nation’s ideals,” said Sarah Suggs, President and CEO. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to continue her work and dedication to our great nation.”
Sandra Day was born on March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas. She spent much of her younger years on her family’s 160,000-acre Lazy B ranch on the Arizona-New Mexico border. At 16 she went to Stanford University for college, graduating magna cum laude with a degree in economics. She stayed for law school. Day graduated and, six months later, married John O’Connor, the love of her life. They eventually moved to Phoenix, where Sandra Day O’Connor began her rapid professional rise, which included holding positions as assistant attorney general of Arizona, majority leader of the Arizona State Senate, and judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals. She also found time to raise three sons—Scott, Brian, and Jay—and make every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
On August 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court; on September 21 she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate with a vote of 99-0.
Her career on the Court was historic. Justice O’Connor will be remembered not only for being the first female on the Court, or for her clear-eyed judicial reasoning and writings and major decisions, but also for her insistence on civility, her penchant for bringing people together to solve problems, whether in Washington, D.C. or over tacos and beer in her Arizona dining room.
“She overcame obstacles with quiet skill and determination and, in the process, inspired and continues to inspire countless others,” said Institute Board of Directors Co-Chair Matt Feeney.
We will miss you, Justice O’Connor.
About the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy
Founded in 2009 by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the O’Connor Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3), continues her distinguished legacy and lifetime work to advance American democracy through multigenerational civil discourse, civic engagement and civics education. Visit www.OConnorInstitute.org for more information.
Source: Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Democracy
University Receives $5 Million from U.S. Army Research Office to Combat Adversarial Information Campaigns
Newswise — Dr. Nitin Agarwal, founding director of the Collaboration for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS) Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, has received $5 million from the Army Research Office to evaluate and defend against emerging cognitive threats.
The Army Research Office is a directorate of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory.
The project, set to run through 2025, aims to identify research gaps in deviant socio-technical behaviors, shape an agenda focused on developing strategies that can counter emerging threats, and create tools for near real-time analysis of such threats.
“Narratives on social media could be easily weaponized and propagated at frighteningly fast speeds,” Agarwal said. “Such insidious threats that attempt to influence beliefs and behaviors need to be considered as modern weapons of cognitive hijacking. We need to develop scientific approaches to combat these emerging threats in a global context, equip our warfighters with these capabilities, and strengthen community resiliency.”
Agarwal, Jerry L. Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair and Distinguished Professor in the Department of Information Science, says these threats are increasingly flash mob-type events, where groups self-organize and coordinate in cyberspace, then disperse. Coordinated cognitive attacks can cause stock market frenzy, violent protests, highly coordinated cyberattacks on public infrastructure, for instance. To an outsider such acts may look arbitrary, however intense coordination happens in the background.
“Given the evolving technological landscape and increasing complexity of cognitive attacks, research is warranted to develop multidisciplinary and theoretically grounded capabilities to evaluate emerging socio-cognitive threats that can serve the needs of our military at strategic, tactical, and operational levels,” Agarwal said.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman is a strong advocate for basic and applied research at UA Little Rock.
“The evolving nature of social media and the changing tactics our adversaries use to spread misinformation requires us to develop a strategy to respond,” Sen. Boozman said. “Dr. Agarwal’s research will help create critical tools to combat bad actors on these platforms. I’m proud to support Arkansas’s role in advancing solutions to counter cyber threats.”
“We are extremely grateful to the Army Research Office, UA Little Rock leadership and U.S. Sen. John Boozman for championing this vital research,” Agarwal added. “It helps position the COSMOS Research Center at the forefront of developing capabilities to combat cognitive threats. The investment will help put these capabilities in the hands of our warfighters to ultimately strengthen our national defense and security apparatus.”
When narratives rapidly evolve in an unchecked online environment, the results can be dangerous. State and non-state actors, alike, can use social media platforms to amplify certain narratives and sway public opinion in their favor. Some of Agarwal’s previous research has shown how YouTube’s algorithms can be manipulated to promote positive content about China while crushing negative news like human rights violations against Uyghur minorities in western China, or how the terrorist organization, Islamic State, uses bots to recruit members and for propaganda campaigns.
“There are many popular shows about the use of forensics to solve physical crimes. Somewhat similarly, Dr. Agarwal uses social cyber forensics to determine the sources of scams and influence campaigns, some of which threaten our country and its allies,” said Dr. Lawrence Whitman, dean of the Donaghey College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. “He works closely with the Army to apply the methods and tools his team has developed to make us all safer. It’s great to have Dr. Agarwal working on these threats, and we are grateful to have this partnership with the Army Research Office.”
Agarwal’s research team investigates governments, groups, and individuals who use advanced communication tactics to orchestrate sophisticated cognitive attack campaigns through a variety of existing and emerging social media platforms, particularly multimedia-rich platforms.
U.S. defense groups are interested in the work because it helps to identify how adversaries are promoting certain narratives via social media, how such narratives resonate with the target audience, and how those narratives can be combated. Training exercises will be conducted to enhance the U.S. workforce with skills in big data analytics, data management, machine learning, and artificial intelligence with applications in security.
The award will provide support for high-speed computational servers that are necessary to support the processing of large volumes of multimodality data, which includes text, image, video, audio, reach, engagement, metadata, and interactions. It is also expected to fund around 15 student research positions, several postdoctoral research fellowships, and data engineer positions.
“The funds will help create exciting opportunities for our students and research staff by exposing them to real world problems and stimulating them to develop science-based solutions,” Agarwal said.
This research was sponsored by the Army Research Office and was accomplished under Grant Number W911NF-23-1-0011. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the Army Research Office or the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Government purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation herein.
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