Pedro Pires Institute for Leadership III promotes strategic dialogue on 14 May in Praia
- Published: April 25, 2016
What will it take to get the Hyperloop to work on Mars? Kids Talk Radio Science and the Barboza Space Center want to build a prototype of this ideas and we are talking to the Rloop team to get some creative ideas. And now for the rest of the story.
After Elon’s public discussion of the HyperLoop, he was surprised by the overwhelming interest in the concept from the public. That interest inspired him to release the monumental Hyperloop Alpha paper in 2013, which presented a number of novel solutions to problems that would arise from traveling at hypersonic speeds inside a tube.
One problem was the requirement to eliminate rolling resistance from wheels. Another was the power and reliability issues associated with a complete vacuum in the tube. And the most difficult problem would be the build up of air pressure in front of the pod as it traveled at fast speeds, an effect known as the Kantrowitz Limit (or the syringe effect).
At that time, Elon was not sure what would happen to the concept once released – but the Hyperloop went viral. He had originally thought he would have to create a subscale version himself to iron out the details, but the overwhelming interest from the public in this new mode of transportation gave him the idea of creating a contest to crowdsource the solutions.
On June 15th, 2015, SpaceX announced a competition, open to the public, where teams could submit designs for pods and subsystems that could have a chance to be tested on an actual track at SpaceX headquarters in the summer of 2016. This is when rLoop was born.
In the comments section of an article about the competition on the SpaceX subreddit, a number of members began proposing that they should collectively form a team; that maybe strangers on the internet could come together, united by a common goal, and compete against top engineering companies and universities in the world.
MDRS Crew 167 (Lone Star Highlanders) – Final Mission Report
The following is the final report of Mars Desert Research Station(MDRS) Crew 167. A full review of this year’s activities at MDRS will be given at the 19th Annual International Mars Society Convention, which will be held September 22-25, 2016 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The call for papers can be viewed on the Mars Society web site.
MDRS Crew 167 (April 3-17, 2016) – End of Mission Summary
McLennan Community College (TX) sent two crews to the Mars Desert Research Station for one-week rotations, with the goal of providing what we like to call “Mars 101,” an introduction to analog field research and training in all aspects of MDRS sim. Crew 167A of the Lone Star Highlanders enthusiastically took over the Hab on Sunday, April 3. Consisting of faculty members and student researchers, the crew conducted research primarily in biology and engineering design.
Crew Astronomer and biology student Dakota Clayton collected soil samples throughout the area in order to perform DNA extraction and isolation with the goal of procuring any fungal DNA present. The DNA fragments will be amplified by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), and then verified by gel electro-phoresis. The results will be sent for sequencing and run through software and online databases to check for known matches.
Crew Biologist and biology student Jesse Stanford also collected soil samples, focusing on areas exhibiting signs of moisture. He will use a DNA isolation kit in conjunction with PCR to amplify any presence of cyanobacterial DNA.
Crew Engineer and computer engineering student Jonathan Beechner began his first week of recreating a digital scale model of the Hab using Blender, with plans to import the model into Unity 3D and develop interactive elements to help future crews train for sim.
Crew Executive Officer and biology student Clark Overman used biometric wearables throughout his rotation in order to collect data related to sleep, stress, heart rate, and other significant variables in order to develop protocols to optimize human performance while in sim. Clark also did a fantastic job as Head Chef, and spent time educating others on the chemistry behind many of his baking projects.
Health and Safety Officer, Commander-in-Training, and nursing professor Dr. Amanda Sansom administered to the crew and kept everyone healthy. Crew Commander and engineering professor Dr. April Andreas enjoyed her second rotation at MDRS and continued her previous work on the planned EVAs.
Crew 167B arrived at MDRS on Saturday, April 9, 2016, and received the hand-off from Crew 167A. They oriented us well and we settled in to begin our Mars simulation on Sunday, April 10, 2016.
Crew Astronomer, Journalist, Commander-in-Training, and chemistry professor Dr. Otsmar Villarroel hoped to observe (and sketch) Jupiter’s Galilean Moons transits and occultations and record the time of these events while at MDRS. Although he was able to observe, with a good resolution, the planet and its some of the Galilean Moons, it was not possible to get good images using the DSRL crew camera. Also, problems with the power for the dome and shutter control were reported. Mission support was planning to provide new batteries to remedy the problem but it did not occur during 167B’s stay at MDRS. The Moon and other celestial bodies were observed as well.
Crew Engineer and electrical engineering student Jaxom Hartman began his first week of his partnered project with Jonathan Beecher, creating a virtual scale model of the terrain outside the Hab using Sketchup, with plans to import the model into Unity 3D for further development of interactive vehicles and objectives to help future crews prepare before entering sim. The rest of the crew was also immensely grateful for Jaxom’s success as Engineer in resolving some minor plumbing issues at the beginning of the week.
Crew Executive Officer, Health and Safety Officer, and McLennan Community College Vice President of Student Success Dr. Drew Canham spent his second rotation at MDRS keeping the crew safe and well, providing guidance and wisdom, and authoring the daily Sol Summaries.
Crew Commander and electrical engineering student Karen Rucker, in addition to her leadership project of Optimizing Team Operation in Simulation, enjoyed her second rotation at MDRS and led planned EVAs for Orientation, Geology and Chemistry. The leadership project was supported by a team operating agreement (TOA), team-building activities, and personality profile assessments.
Crew Chemist, Head Chef and electrical engineering student Victoria La Barre’s project was designing and building an Emergency Medical Service Rover (EMSR) that would cross the terrain of Mars, locate a distress signal and operate on a patient while returning back to the Hab. Tests were conducted locally at the Hab and at the Gypsum fields. Repairs and adjustments were performed in between tests to better suit the EMSR for Mars terrain. The series of tests proved very beneficial to the EMSR’s development and Victoria plans to continue improving its design when she returns home.
Jonathan Beechner continued his research with crew 167B as Crew Geologist and Greenhab Officer. He had surprising success in sprouting tomatoes in the temporary Greenhab; he also maintained green onions and radishes. He nearly finished his 3D model of the Hab and plans to import it into Unity3D when he returns home.
On Tuesday, April 12, Crew 167B had a visit from Neil Schwartz and Dr. Joe Mascaro of the San Francisco Film Society. They interviewed the crew and filmed footage of our life at the Hab and of suiting up for EVAs.
Both crews 167A and 167B worked together well during their respective weeks in simulation. The food studies are not in progress and therefore, the crew did have a few fresh food items, but other than that, all meals were from the shelf stable supply already provided. Everyone was very satisfied with the taste of these meals.
On Saturday, April 15, 2016, our rotation ended and we handed over the Hab to the volunteer work crew. The valuable and unique experiences and challenges of the time here at MDRS have allowed crew members to grow, both personally and as researchers.
We would like to thank the Mars Society for this invaluable experience and their support during our rotation. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity.
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On March 11, 2016 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued its final rule for international students with U.S. degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) seeking extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) (the “Final Rule”) employment authorization. The Final Rule creates a new 24-month STEM OPT extension period along with additional government oversight and substantial new requirements for students, their universities, and their potential STEM employers. International (F-1) students graduating with STEM degrees may now be issued work authorization for up to 36 months if they will work for E-Verify subscribed employers.
The new rule takes effect on May 10, 2016. Additional guidance can be found at the DHS website Study in the States. Specifically, on the STEM OPT Hub there are sections geared for students, schools and employers.
Companies hiring and employing STEM OPT graduates should be aware that the Final Rule will impose new employer requirements and compliance obligations. Consistent with the 2008 Final Rule, employers will still need to be enrolled in E-Verify and remain in good standing with the program. In addition, the Final Rule will require employers to:
Implement a formal training program to augment the student’s academic learning through practical experience;
Provide an OPT training opportunity that is commensurate with those of similarly situated U.S. workers in duties, hours and compensation;
Complete the Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. In this form, you must attest that:
The employer has enough resources and trained personnel available to appropriately train the student;
The student will not replace a full- or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker; and
The training program will assist the student attain his or her training objectives. In this regard, the employer must review and sign a student-completed annual self-evaluation on their training progress; and
Report material changes to the STEM OPT student’s employment to the student’s Designated Student Officer (DSO) within 5 business days.
The Final Rule defines “similarly situated U.S. workers” to include U.S. workers performing similar duties and with similar educational backgrounds, employment experience, levels of responsibility and skill sets as the STEM OPT student. The Rule further states, if the employer does not employ and has not recently employed more than two similarly situated U.S. workers, the employer must instead ensure that the terms and conditions of the STEM OPT opportunity they offer is commensurate with those similarly situated U.S. workers employed by other companies of analogous size and industry and in the same area of employment.
Moreover, the Final Rule provides U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with site visit authority. ICE may visit employer worksite(s) to verify whether they are meeting the STEM OPT program requirements, including whether they are maintaining the ability and resources to provide a structured and guided work-based training experience for the STEM OPT student. ICE will provide notice to the employer at least 48 hours in advance of any site visit, unless the visit is triggered by a complaint or other evidence of noncompliance with the STEM OPT extension regulations. In such cases, ICE may conduct a site visit without notice.
In completing the Form I-983, Training Plan, employers will have to furnish DHS with very specific detailed information, including the employer name, address, website url, number of FTEs in the U.S., NAICS code, as well as the name, title and contact information of the individual (“official”) providing the training. In addition, employers will have to provide the following details regarding the training program: OPT training hours, start date of employment/training, compensation (salary, stipend, stock options, housing benefits, tuition cost waivers or other), a description of the training tasks and assignment as well as an explanation of how the training relates to the student’s STEM degree and a description of the training plan goals and objectives, employer oversight and measurement/assessments of the trainee. The completed Form I-983 will accompany the F-1 student’s application for extension of their STEM OPT work authorization document (EAD).
ABOUT THIS AUTHOR
Gregory Wald’s experience includes representing multinational and Fortune 500 companies and individual clients in all aspects of immigration law including nonimmigrant visas, and immigrant matters regarding multinational executives and managers, individuals of extraordinary ability and professionals.
He has appeared before the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), US Department of Labor, US Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review and various federal courts.
‘Mixed Reality’ Technology Brings Mars to Earth
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Apr 01, 2016
Erisa Hines, a driver for the Mars Curiosity rover, based at JPL, also talks to participants in “Destination: Mars.” Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/Microsoft. For a larger version of this image please go here.
What might it look like if you were walking around on Mars? A group of researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, has been working on methods to take this question from the realm of imagination to the mind-bending domain of mixed reality.
As a result, NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to offer the public a guided tour of an area of Mars with astronaut Buzz Aldrin this summer in “Destination: Mars,” an interactive exhibit using the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality headset. “Mixed reality” means that virtual elements are merged with the user’s actual environment, creating a world in which real and virtual objects can interact.
The “Destination: Mars” exhibit will open at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida this summer. Guests will “visit” several sites on Mars, reconstructed using real imagery from NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet since August 2012.
Buzz Aldrin, an Apollo 11 astronaut who walked on the moon in 1969, will serve as “holographic tour guide” on the journey. Curiosity Mars rover driver Erisa Hines of JPL will also appear holographically, leading participants to places on Mars where scientists have made exciting discoveries and explaining what we have learned about the planet.
“This experience lets the public explore Mars in an entirely new way. To walk through the exact landscape that Curiosity is roving across puts its achievements and discoveries into beautiful context,” said Doug Ellison, visualization producer at JPL.
“Destination: Mars” is an adaptation of OnSight, a Mars rover mission operations tool co-developed by Microsoft and JPL. A pilot group of scientists uses OnSight in their work supporting the Curiosity Mars rover’s operations.
“We’re excited to give the public a chance to see Mars using cutting-edge technologies that help scientists plan Curiosity’s activities on Mars today,” said Jeff Norris, project manager for OnSight and “Destination: Mars” at JPL. “While freely exploring the terrain, participants learn about processes that have shaped this alien world.”
Abigail Fraeman, a Curiosity science team member at JPL, uses OnSight to make recommendations about where the rover should drive and which features to study in more detail. Recently OnSight helped her and a colleague identify the transition point between two Martian rock formations, which they would like to study in further detail.
“OnSight makes the whole process of analyzing the data feel a lot more natural to me,” Fraeman said. “It really gives me the sense that I’m in the field when I put it on. Thinking about Martian geology is a lot more intuitive when I can stand in the scene and walk around the way I would if I were in the field.”
By utilizing the same technologies and datasets as OnSight, “Destination: Mars” offers participants a glimpse of Mars as seen by mission scientists.
JPL is also developing mixed reality applications in support of astronauts on the International Space Station and engineers responsible for the design and assembly of spacecraft. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who recently returned from his historic “Year in Space” activities, used one of these applications to make the first Skype call from space to mission control in February 2016.
“By connecting astronauts to experts on the ground, mixed reality could be transformational for scientific and engineering efforts in space,” Norris said.
“As we prepare to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, the public will now be able to preview the experience the astronauts will have as they walk and study the Martian surface,” said Dave Lavery, program executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters in Washington.