The Occupy Mars Learning Adventure

Training Jr. Astronauts, Scientists & Engineers

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Artificial Intelligence and Mars

Artificial Intelligence Is Attracting Investors, Inventors, and Academic Researchers Worldwide

The researchers at the Barboza Space Center are paying close attention to how artificial intelligence will play a role in the future of going to school on Mars.   You might find this article by Sean Cavanagh interesting.


Senior Editor

If entrepreneurs and futurists are to be believed, artificial intelligence will have a transformative impact on many aspects of society–with uncertain implications for education.

A new report attempts to get beyond the prognostication and offer a precise gauge of where AI’s development stands right now, as judged by a variety of metrics across research and industry in the U.S. and internationally.

The AI Index 2018 Annual Report was produced by a group of researchers, led by Yoav Shoham, a professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford University. The measures in the report are not directly related to K-12 education, though some, such as the growth in venture capital and academic research, seem likely influence the development of AI in school settings.

One measure outlined in the report is the publication of AI-focused academic papers, where the release of research focused on artificial intelligence topics has outpaced the amount of published research on computer science over roughly the past two decades.

The interest in artificial intelligence in academia is not limited to the United States. Europe has consistently produced the largest number of AI papers, currently about 27 percent of them, according to the report, followed by China (25 percent) and United States (17 percent).  But the number of papers published in China jumped by 150 percent between 2007 and 2017.

About 30 percent of AI-focused patents originated in the U.S., the authors of the index say; Japan and South Korea hold the next-highest number, at 16 percent each. South Korea and Taiwan have shown the most growth in patents.

“We can assert that AI is global,” stated the researchers, who say the report is meant to serve as a “comprehensive resource” for the public, researchers, and others to “develop intuitions about the complex field of AI.”

Interest in AI has jumped by many other measures, too. Undergraduate course enrollments in AI and machine learning have risen in universities that have computer science programs–and not just in the United States. At China’s Tsinghua University, enrollment in AI and machine learning courses was 16 times greater in 2017 than it was in 2010.

Venture capitalists are also placing bets on AI. From 2015 to 2018, the number of AI-focused startups backed by venture capital more than doubled, outpacing the increases for the overall pool of startups:

VC spending on artificial intelligence








Economists and educators have speculated about how AI might influence not just teaching, but the future job market, and what schools need to do to prepare students to compete for careers. The AI Index shows a strong growth in the number of job openings with AI skill requirements.

Machine learning is the skill that is listed most often as a requirement, the report found. But deep learning–essentially work focused on imitating the human brain in processing data and creating patterns for decision-making–is the required skill growing at the fastest rate. It grew by 35 times between 2015 and 2017. Other AI-focused skills often required include natural language processing and robotics.

jobs requiring AI skills







Additionally, a growing number of companies in North America, China and other developing markets, and Europe are embedding “AI capabilities” in at least one function or business unit, says the report, citing a survey taken by McKinsey & Company.

Robotic process automation, machine learning, and conversational interfaces were among the AI capabilities cited most often.

This is the second year the index has been published. The new report, which was released in December, was broadened to include more data on AI’s presence outside North America.

Follow EdWeek Market Brief on Twitter @EdMarketBrief or connect with us on LinkedIn.

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What will you eat on Mars? (Veggies)


Eating your veggies, even in space
by Staff Writers
Oslo, Norway (SPX) Jan 07, 2019

Wolff found that the plants can “smell” or detect how much nutrition is available when she ran experiments in climate-regulated growth chambers in the Netherlands. Photo: Silje Wolff

Fresh food is so attractive to astronauts that they toasted with salad when they were able to cultivate a few lettuce heads on the International Space Station three years ago.

In 2021, beans are on the menu to be grown in space, planted in high-tech planters developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

“Astronauts like gardening and everything that reminds them of life on earth. They enjoy tending and watering the vegetables, and getting them to germinate,” says Silje Wolff, a plant physiologist at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS), which is part of NTNU Social Research.

Wolff has just completed an experiment that involved growing lettuce for space. The lettuce was planted in artificial soil made from lava rock. The goal is for the plants to grow directly in water that is supplemented with plant nutrients.

“The dream of every astronaut is to be able to eat fresh food – like strawberries, cherry tomatoes or anything that’s really flavorful. Someday that will certainly be possible. We envision a greenhouse with several varieties of vegetables,” says Wolff.

The longest stays at the International Space Station have been six months. People travelling to Mars will need to be prepared to stay in space for at least a year.

The European Space Agency plans to build a lunar base in 2030 as a stopover on the way to Mars. NASA plans to fly directly to the planet with a target landing date of 2030.

“The way space travel works today, it’s almost impossible to take along all the resources you need. That’s why we have to develop a biological system so astronauts can produce their own food, and recycle all of the resources,” says Wolff.

Today’s astronauts eat only freeze-dried and vacuum-packed foods.

“Astronauts struggle with having little appetite. They often lose weight. Addressing the psychological aspect of eating something fresh is one of our goals. Vacuum-packed food doesn’t really remind you of food. Having something fresh that triggers the appetite and the right receptors in the brain is important,” Wolff says.

NTNU and CIRiS are collaborating with Italian and French researchers in their quest to cultivate plant-based food for long space journeys.

CIRiS tests the new equipment made by NTNU’s technical workshop – very sophisticated planters that regulate all the water, nutrients, gas and air the plants need. In space, all the water and food has to be recovered. This means that plant fertilization needs to be as precise as possible.

Wolff has conducted experiments in climate-regulated growth chambers in the Netherlands as one aspect of this research.

Of all the nutrients plants use, they use nitrogen the most. During her experiments, Wolff looked at different nutrient doses and how they affected the plants’ water uptake.

“We found that plants can, in a way, ‘smell’ the amount of nutrients available to them. When the nitrogen concentration is very low, the plant will absorb more water and thus more nitrogen until it reaches an optimal level. The plant has a mechanism that turns on when the nitrogen level is adequate. Then it adjusts both nitrogen and water absorption down,” says Wolff.

Everything that can be tested on Earth has now been carried out. The next step is to grow beans in space to observe the effect of no gravity on plants’ ability to transport water and absorb nutrients. Simulating the absence of gravity can’t be done on Earth.

The beans are placed in a centrifuge to sprout and grow in the space station. The centrifuge is rotated to create different amounts of gravity.

“The art of getting something to grow in space can be transferred to our planet,” Wolff said. “This is how we create a setup that produces both the microgravity conditions in the space station and the 1-g force that exists on Earth.”

That will allow her to compare how the different gravitational levels affect the plants in space. On Earth, gravity causes warm air to rise while cold air sinks. In the space station, air is more stationary, causing astronauts to always have a low-grade fever. Plants are also affected.

“Stationary air affects a layer on the underside of the leaf where the stoma pores are located. When gravity disappears, the boundary layer in the slit-shaped apertures thickens. This reduces evaporation and causes the leaf temperature to increase. Water vapour diffusion to the environment is an important part of plant regulation and can be compared with sweating to cool the body in humans and animals,” says Wolff.

Food production in cities offers an opportunity to produce more food in the most sustainable way. Cities don’t have much soil for cultivation, but a lot becomes possible if you can plant directly in water in indoor closed systems where all aspects of the climate are regulated.

“Recycling and precise fertilization are key to achieving more sustainable food production. By growing plants directly in water with dissolved nutrients, fertilization and irrigation are much easier to control,” says Wolff.

“The plants become less sensitive to nutritional deficiency because the roots are in direct contact with the nutrients. They’re always able to access new nutrients through the water, and can use absolutely all the nutrients available – unlike with soil that binds the nutrients and affects their availability to the roots. And the roots don’t rot when the water is mixed with a little oxygen,” she says.

Research Report: Testing New Concepts for Crop Cultivation in Space: Effects of Rooting Volume and Nitrogen Availability Silje A. Wolff, Carolina F. Palma, Leo Marcelis, Ann-Iren Kittang Jost and Sander H. van Delden. Life 2018, 8(4), 45

Side Note:

Mars Related STEAM++ International Student projects:

Bob Barboza is testing the soil from the base of volcanoes and a team of high school Jr. astronauts are using the soil for growing plants for Mars.   The students of Pedro Pierce High School on the Island of Fogo, Republic of Cabo Verde and students from the Long Beach Unified School District are working with the Barboza Space Center in southern California.  This year the Barboza Space Center Tiger teams will be studying the growth of cucumbers and beans.

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Mars, Robots, and Fellowships

STEAM++ Presentations: Mars, Robots, and Fellowships

presented by

Bob Barboza

Founder/Director, Barboza Space Center

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Huntington Beach, CA


The Barboza Space Center in Long Beach, California, offers international fellowship programs to inspire high school students in Cabo Verde and the USA to study science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages, and foreign languages.  Using specially designed resources, international students work in teams to create prototypes of robots, satellites, Martian habitats, and Mars science landers.  The fellowships can take the form of workshops, summer camps, or after-school distance learning programs.

This presentation will demonstrate how students participate in NASA Tiger Teams and solve space science challenges simulating those faced by NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX.  Students prototype solutions using both humanoid and other robots, as well as astronaut toolkits containing science experiments particular to Mars.  Their work allows them to explore careers by actually doing work in the fields of space science, physics and robotics.

Bob Barboza is an educator, STEAM++ consultant, software and curriculum designer, astrosociologist, and founder and director of Kids Talk Radio Science as well as the Barboza Space Center.  Bob was the recipient of the 2018 Gohardani Presentation Award in Aeronautics and Astronautics presented by the Springs of Dreams Corporation and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

NOTE:  This program is part of a series co-sponsored by AIAA OC and Golden West College.  It will be held at Golden West College in the Technology Building, Room 102 (Building 19 in the campus map).  Free parking is available in Lot A and Lot B off of Goldenwest Street for guests who register online.  A parking permit for the evening of January 24th will be emailed to each online registrant.  The permit must be printed, placed in the vehicle on the driver’s side dashboard, and the vehicle must be parked in a white-lined “student” parking space (i.e., not “Staff” or metered).

Thursday, January 24th, 2019

Pizza and Drinks: 6:00 P.M

Presentation (free): 6:30 P.M.

Q and A: 7:15-8:00 P.M.



Golden West College, Technology Building (Building 19), Room 102, Huntington Beach, CA  92647


$3 for pre-registered AIAA Members and Golden West Persons,

$5 for others, Free for presentation-only attendees

Please Note:  We cannot accept cash at the door.  Only paid pre-registered people may come in before 6:25 pm.  There is no restriction on who may attend; just sign up by Tuesday, January 22nd at 5:00 P.M.  Please register, even just for the free presentation, to assure that seating is provided.


Registration deadline is:

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019, at 5:00 P.M.


Link to Event Website and Registration

We have noticed that PayPal will deny a credit card if there is a middle initial or name on the card and it is not provided on the PayPal form.  It can be appended to the line asking for a first name.


HDMI Connections
With a simple adapter, you can
With a simple adapter, you can

There are lots of methods you can use to connect home-theater components. For example:

  • Component video carries analog video signals separated into two channels for color and a third for luminance. Component video cables use RCA connectors.
  • S-video transmits analog signals using one cable and a four-pin connector.
  • DVI, or digital visual interface, is a 29-pin connection commonly used with computer monitors. Unlike composite video and s-video, it carries digital signals.

Many HDTV early adopters rely on DVI, since it hit the market before HDMI did. Since DVI and HDMI both use the TMDS protocol, they’re compatible. All you need to connect an HDMI cable to a DVI port is a passive adapter.

The DVI and HDMI connectors have some other similarities. Both use a grid of pins to transmit signals from the cable to the device. While DVI has a 29-pin connector, HDMI’s type A connector has 19 pins. A DVI connector also uses a pair of built-in screws to anchor it to the device. HDMI plugs don’t have this extra support, and some users have expressed concern that this puts unnecessary strain on the device’s circuitry. There’s also a miniature version of the HDMI connector for use on smaller devices like digital camcorders as well as a 29-pin type B connector, although most consumer devices use type A.

From the HDMI connector’s pins, signals travel through twisted pairs of copper cable. Three audio and video channels travel through two pins each, for a total of six pins. The TMDS clock, which allows devices to synchronize the incoming data, travels through one pair of pins. Each of these four total pairs has a shield — another wire that protects it from interference from its neighbors. The TMDS channels, the clock and the shields make up the bulk of the cable pairs inside the HDMI cable.

The other signals that travel through the HDMI cable need only one pin. One such channel is the consumer electronics channel (CEC). If your devices support it, this channel allows them to send instructions to one another. For example, an HD-DVD player could automatically turn on a home-theater receiver and an HDTV when it started playing a disk. The hot plug detect channel, which uses one pin, senses when you plug in or unplug a device, re-initializing the HDMI link if necessary. The one-pin display data channel (DDC) carries device information and the HDCP encryption information discussed in the previous section. Other channels carry encryption data and electricity to power communication between devices.

The cables themselves come in two categories. Category 1 has a speed of 74.25 MHz. Category 2 has a speeded of 340 MHz. Most consumer cables are the faster category 2 variety.

In addition to the connector and cable, the HDMI standard applies to how TV sets can synchronize sound with video and display color. These capabilities have changed significantly over several revisions to the standard, which we’ll compare in the next section.