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How to get potatoes ready for Mars 2030?

How school students from around the world are working with the Barboza Space Center to experiments on growing better potatoes?  We are always looking for new tips and tricks.  Contact: Suprschool@aol.com

GROWING POTATOES

PLANTING, GROWING, AND HARVESTING POTATOES
Red Potatoes

Wondering how to grow potatoes? We’re here to help! The taste and the texture of homegrown potatoes are far superior to those of store-bought spuds, especially the early varieties. Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest potatoes in your garden.

ABOUT POTATOES

“What I say is that if a man really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.”
A. A. Milne, English writer (1882–1956)

Potatoes like cool weather and well-drained, loose soil that is about 45 to 55°F (7 to 13°C). In warmer climates, potatoes can be grown as a winter crop.

Folklore offers many “best days” for planting potatoes:

  • Old-timers in New England planted their potato crops when they saw dandelions blooming in the open fields.
  • The Pennsylvania Dutch considered St. Gertrude’s Day (March 17, aka St. Patrick’s Day) to be their official potato-planting day.
  • Many Christians believed that Good Friday is the best day to plant potatoes because the devil holds no power over them at this time.

All of these “best days” suggest an early spring planting! (See more about planting below.)

PLANTING

WHEN TO PLANT POTATOES

  • Potatoes can be started 0 to 2 weeks after last spring frost. You may plant earlier, as soon as soil can be worked, but be aware that some crops may be ruined by a frost or wet soil. Find your local frost dates here.
  • However, if have a “late” spring, it’s not too late to plant potatoes through April (depending on where you’re located).  Some folks even plant through June, especially in containers or potato towers.

HOW TO PLANT POTATOES

  • With a hoe or round-point shovel, dig a trench about 6 inches wide and 8 inches deep, tapering the bottom to about 3 inches wide.
  • Potatoes are best grown in rows. Space rows about 3 feet apart.
  • Spread and mix in rotted manure or organic compost in the bottom of the trench before planting. (Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.)
  • In the trench, place a seed potato piece, cut side down, every 12 to 14 inches and cover with 3 to 4 inches of soil.
  • The best starters are seed potatoes from which eyes (buds) protrude. (Do not confuse seed potatoes with potato seeds or grocery produce.) Use a clean, sharp paring knife to cut large potatoes into pieces that are roughly the size of a golf ball, making sure that there are at least 2 eyes on each piece. (Potatoes that are smaller than a hen’s egg should be planted whole.)
  • If you are cutting up potato pieces for planting, do so 1 to 2 days ahead of planting. This will give them the chance to “heal” and form a protective layer over the cut surface, improving both moisture retention and rot resistance.
  • 12 to 16 days after planting, when sprouts appear, use a hoe to gently fill in the trench with another 3 to 4 inches of soil, leaving a few inches of the plants exposed. Repeat in several weeks, leaving the soil mounded up 4 to 5 inches above ground level (this is called “hilling”).
  • After the potato plants have emerged, add organic mulch between the rows to conserve moisture, help with weed control, and cool the soil.

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CARE

HOW TO GROW POTATOES

  • Do not allow sunlight to fall on the tubers, which develop under the surface of the soil, or they will turn green.
  • Do the hilling in the morning, when plants are at their tallest. During the heat of the day, plants start drooping.
  • Maintain even moisture, especially from the time when sprouts appear until several weeks after they blossom. The plants need 1 to 2 inches of water per week. If you water too much right after planting and not enough as the potatoes begin to form, the tubers can become misshapen.
  • The last hilling should be done before the potato plants bloom, when the plant is about 6 inches tall. Hoe the dirt up around the base of the plant in order to cover the tubers as well as to support the plant.
  • Hilling keeps the potatoes from getting sunburned, which can cause them to turn green and produce a chemical called solanine. Solanine gives off a bitter taste and is toxic.

potato_plants_iso_petrov_gi_full_width.jpg

PESTS/DISEASES

  • Potato Scab: Most likely caused by a high soil pH. Remember: Potatoes like acidic soil (do not plant in soil with a pH higher than 5.2). Dust seed potatoes with sulfur before planting. Some readers suggest adding pine straw on top of the potatoes when planting for natural anti-bacterial elements.
  • Colorado potato beetles need to be hand-picked and predatory birds will often eat them. While they’re in the nymph state, they can be controlled with Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) which is a non-toxic way to control pests in the garden. If they continue to be a problem, a few sprays of Spinosad, an organic pesticide, will get rid of the beetles. Always use products at dawn or dusk to avoid harming beneficial insects.
  • Aphids
  • Flea Beetles
  • Early/Late Blight

HARVEST/STORAGE

HOW TO HARVEST POTATOES

  • “New potatoes,” which are potatoes that are purposefully harvested early for their smaller size and tender skin, will be ready for harvest 2 to 3 weeks after the plants stop flowering. For mature potatoes, wait 2 to 3 weeks after the foliage has died.
  • New potatoes should not be cured and should be eaten within a few days of harvest, as they will not keep for much longer.
  • Dig potatoes on a dry day. Dig up gently, being careful not to puncture the tubers. Avoid cutting or bruising potato skin. The soil should not be compact, so digging should be easy.
  • If the soil is very wet, let the potatoes air-dry as much as possible before putting them in bags or baskets.
  • For the biggest and best potatoes, harvest only after the plant’s foliage has died back.
  • Cut browning foliage to the ground and wait 10 to 14 days before harvesting to allow the potatoes to develop a thick enough skin. Don’t wait too long, though, or the potatoes may rot.
  • Allow freshly dug potatoes to sit in a dry, cool place (45–60°F/7–15°C) for up to two weeks. This allows their skins to cure, which will help them keep for longer.
  • After curing, make sure you brush off any soil clinging to the potatoes, then store them in a cool, somewhat humid, dark place. The ideal temperature for storage is 38 to 40°F (3 to 4°C).
  • Do not store potatoes with apples; the apples’ ethylene gas will cause potatoes to spoil.
  • Never store potatoes in the refrigerator.
  • Whether you dig your own potatoes or buy them at a store, don’t wash them until right before you use them. Washing potatoes shortens their storage life.
  • Find more tips on getting potatoes ready for the root cellar.

Potatoes
The fruit (metaphorically speaking) of a very happy potato plant!

RECOMMENDED VARIETIES

WIT & WISDOM

  • If your garden soil is very rocky, put the seed potato pieces directly on the ground. Sprinkle with a mix of soil and compost. Cover them with straw or leaves, hilling the material up as the potatoes grow.
  • Practice yearly crop rotation.
  • See our video on how to grow potatoes in a trash can, the easiest-ever container garden!
  • Before planning your garden, take a look at our plant companions chart to see which veggies are most compatible with potatoes.
  • Did you know: Potato promoter Antoine Parmentier convinced Marie Antoinette to wear potato blossoms in her hair.
  • Grated potatoes are said to soothe sunburnt skin.

RECIPES

COOKING NOTES

Check out our recipe archives to find potato recipes that range from plain to fancy!

 

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We need engineers

Subject: Flush defense budget, cutting-edge programs send firms scrambling to find engineers and other skilled workers. Los Angeles Times Business Section 2018 10 07

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Aerospace industry hiring is at stratospheric level.
Flush defense budget, cutting-edge programs send firms scrambling to find engineers and other skilled workers. By Samantha Masunaga..
This summer, a Coolhaus ice cream truck rolled up to the edge of Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Redondo Beach Space Park campus. It offered free frosty treats — from Raytheon Co. recruiters. That’s just one hiring strategy employed by aerospace and defense companies these days.
Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. have Facebook or Twitter accounts tailored specifically for recruiting. A Northrop Grumman billboard towers over a major El Segundo thoroughfare, promoting careers at the company. The increased U.S. defense budget, record orders for commercial aircraft and the launch of new, cutting-edge programs have aerospace and defense companies scrambling to hire engineers and other skilled workers. They’re especially interested in those with experience in software, artificial intelligence and autonomy — pitting them against tech companies for the same pool of workers.
Historically, aerospace and defense firms “haven’t had the Googles and Amazons and Yahoos to recruit against,” said Harold Carter, director of engineering and technology at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale. “Quite frequently now, especially in software-related disciplines … we’re certainly seeing it’s much more competitive.
Next year, the aerospace and defense industry will probably hire 58,000 to 60,000 people across the country in a mix of new jobs and to offset attrition and retirements, said Carole Rickard Hedden, editorial director of Aviation Week Executive Intelligence, which produces a yearly report on the industry workforce. About one-third of those hires will be on the West Coast. That’s up from about 50,000 hires industrywide last year, said Frank Slazer, vice president for space systems and workforce at the Aerospace Industries Assn. trade group.
Many companies are looking to staff up after recent program wins, including the stealthy B-21 bomber, NASA’s low-boom supersonic X-plane and hypersonic missile research. Roy Azevedo, Raytheon’s president of space and airborne systems, expects the hiring boom to continue for years. “It rivals what we saw in the 1980s,” he said. “The openings are roughly doubled from just about a year ago.
As of last month, Raytheon had about 1,000 job openings in California, including 600 in the South Bay.
Lockheed Martin’s careers page listed about 880 open positions last month in California, a “significant increase from anything in the past,” Carter said. Southern California’s aerospace industry is notorious for its cyclical hiring.
During the heyday of the 1960s space race, North American Aviation in Downey, which later became part of Boeing, staffed up to 25,000 to build the Apollo command module. In the 1980s, aerospace companies bulked up again as the U.S. bolstered its defenses amid increasing tension with the Soviet Union. By 1990, private aerospace industry employment totaled 273,000. But as Pentagon spending slumped, the industry cut back.
In 2016, the workforce was down to 90,100, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Although it doesn’t compare to the industrywide hiring numbers seen in the late ’80s and early ’90s, “we are in an uptick,” said Jim Adams, principal of the aerospace and defense practice at KPMG. This most recent surge is partially driven by the Trump administration’s increased national defense budget, which totals $716 billion for fiscal year 2019-20. That’s a 2.2% increase from the fiscal year 2018-19 budget, and comes off a 10.5% increase between fiscal year 2017-18 and 2018-19, said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Lockheed Martin’s $247.5-million contract to build NASA’s X-plane has boosted hiring at the company’s secretive Skunk Works facility, along with accelerated technology development and other programs Carter declined to name.
A Northrop Grumman official has said the company plans to add more than 2,000 jobs by late next year at its top-secret aircraft plant in Palmdale, where the company plans to complete final assembly of the U.S. Air Force’s B-21. The Pentagon plans to buy 100 of the bombers by the mid-2030s for at least $80 billion.
To attract young talent, aerospace firms are constant presences on college campuses. Last fall, Mia Reyes, 20, met Northrop Grumman recruiters through a resume workshop at a UCLA Society of Women Engineers event and took a tour of one of the company’s local facilities through her involvement with the Society of Latino Engineers and Scientists. Those meetings led to an internship this past summer at Northrop Grumman, where the third-year aerospace engineering student worked on stress analysis of aircraft structures. She’ll be interning there again next summer. Reyes has always been intrigued by aerospace engineering; her grandfather was an aerospace engineer at Rocketdyne and worked on aspects of the Apollo missions. But she hadn’t heard of Northrop Grumman until she arrived at UCLA and saw company representatives on campus. A major draw was Northrop Grumman’s work on the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that is set for launch in 2021.
“That telescope is the coolest thing in the world to me,” Reyes said. “The science behind it … makes sense, but it sounds like sci-fi.
Aerospace and defense firms face an increasingly competitive market for talent, as tech companies also look for engineers with skills in software and artificial intelligence, said Adams of KPMG. Entry-level electrical engineers earn $75,000 to $80,000. With 12 to 15 years of experience, that salary could increase to $146,000 to $150,000, according to Aviation Week data.
Entry-level software engineers in aerospace and defense make about $76,000, according to Aviation Week; the national average for those workers is about $95,000, according to Glassdoor.
Companies are also looking for experience in cybersecurity, electric and rocket power systems, as well as data analytics. Ten years ago, highly coveted job skills included systems engineering and electrical engineering, according to a recent aerospace workforce report from Aviation Week. Even when aerospace companies can compete for tech talent, they have the disadvantage of meeting requirements for classified programs. There is a significant backlog in conducting background investigations for government security clearances, according to a January report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
As of September 2017, more than 700,000 investigations were still in the pipeline, though the backlog has declined since the last reporting, according to a GAO official. The share of the aerospace workforce with “above a secret clearance” has increased to 12.3% in 2017 from 8.1% the previous year, according to the Aviation Week report. Many of the companies surveyed said it takes about five months to get top-secret clearances and more than a year to obtain higher clearance levels. To cope, some companies try to clear employees before they’re hired or poach security-cleared talent from other firms. “You have to account for that in your workforce management process, which basically means you need a longer lead time,” said Carter of Lockheed Martin. “It certainly takes longer now than it used to. Adding to the recruitment pressure is the large number of baby boomers in the industry’s workforce. Many of those who joined the industry toward the end of the space race are nearing retirement age. Retirement rates remain low for now — only 2.2% of the workforce retired last year. But in its survey of 559,000 aerospace workers at 35 U.S. companies, Aviation Week said the average age was 47, with about 30.5% older than 50. Companies are preparing for the inevitable turnover by making plans to transfer knowledge from older employees to newer hires.
Greg Caguimbal, 24, said he’s sought mentorship from older experts in electronics, materials engineering and other areas at Lockheed Martin, where he works part time as a mechanical design and systems engineer. He’s a graduate student at UCLA and plans to graduate next year with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. “I try to talk to these people as much as I can,” he said, “see what’s been working and how it works and kind of just continue the legacy. –.
samantha.masunaga@latimes.com. Twitter: @smasunaga.
Aerospace industry hiring is at stratospheric level.
Flush defense budget, cutting-edge programs send firms scrambling to find engineers and other skilled workers. By Samantha Masunaga..
This summer, a Coolhaus ice cream truck rolled up to the edge of Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Redondo Beach Space Park campus. It offered free frosty treats — from Raytheon Co. recruiters. That’s just one hiring strategy employed by aerospace and defense companies these days.
Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. have Facebook or Twitter accounts tailored specifically for recruiting. A Northrop Grumman billboard towers over a major El Segundo thoroughfare, promoting careers at the company. The increased U.S. defense budget, record orders for commercial aircraft and the launch of new, cutting-edge programs have aerospace and defense companies scrambling to hire engineers and other skilled workers. They’re especially interested in those with experience in software, artificial intelligence and autonomy — pitting them against tech companies for the same pool of workers.
Historically, aerospace and defense firms “haven’t had the Googles and Amazons and Yahoos to recruit against,” said Harold Carter, director of engineering and technology at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale. “Quite frequently now, especially in software-related disciplines … we’re certainly seeing it’s much more competitive.
Next year, the aerospace and defense industry will probably hire 58,000 to 60,000 people across the country in a mix of new jobs and to offset attrition and retirements, said Carole Rickard Hedden, editorial director of Aviation Week Executive Intelligence, which produces a yearly report on the industry workforce. About one-third of those hires will be on the West Coast. That’s up from about 50,000 hires industrywide last year, said Frank Slazer, vice president for space systems and workforce at the Aerospace Industries Assn. trade group.
Many companies are looking to staff up after recent program wins, including the stealthy B-21 bomber, NASA’s low-boom supersonic X-plane and hypersonic missile research. Roy Azevedo, Raytheon’s president of space and airborne systems, expects the hiring boom to continue for years. “It rivals what we saw in the 1980s,” he said. “The openings are roughly doubled from just about a year ago.
As of last month, Raytheon had about 1,000 job openings in California, including 600 in the South Bay.
Lockheed Martin’s careers page listed about 880 open positions last month in California, a “significant increase from anything in the past,” Carter said. Southern California’s aerospace industry is notorious for its cyclical hiring.
During the heyday of the 1960s space race, North American Aviation in Downey, which later became part of Boeing, staffed up to 25,000 to build the Apollo command module. In the 1980s, aerospace companies bulked up again as the U.S. bolstered its defenses amid increasing tension with the Soviet Union. By 1990, private aerospace industry employment totaled 273,000. But as Pentagon spending slumped, the industry cut back.
In 2016, the workforce was down to 90,100, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. Although it doesn’t compare to the industrywide hiring numbers seen in the late ’80s and early ’90s, “we are in an uptick,” said Jim Adams, principal of the aerospace and defense practice at KPMG. This most recent surge is partially driven by the Trump administration’s increased national defense budget, which totals $716 billion for fiscal year 2019-20. That’s a 2.2% increase from the fiscal year 2018-19 budget, and comes off a 10.5% increase between fiscal year 2017-18 and 2018-19, said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Lockheed Martin’s $247.5-million contract to build NASA’s X-plane has boosted hiring at the company’s secretive Skunk Works facility, along with accelerated technology development and other programs Carter declined to name.
A Northrop Grumman official has said the company plans to add more than 2,000 jobs by late next year at its top-secret aircraft plant in Palmdale, where the company plans to complete final assembly of the U.S. Air Force’s B-21. The Pentagon plans to buy 100 of the bombers by the mid-2030s for at least $80 billion.
To attract young talent, aerospace firms are constant presences on college campuses. Last fall, Mia Reyes, 20, met Northrop Grumman recruiters through a resume workshop at a UCLA Society of Women Engineers event and took a tour of one of the company’s local facilities through her involvement with the Society of Latino Engineers and Scientists. Those meetings led to an internship this past summer at Northrop Grumman, where the third-year aerospace engineering student worked on stress analysis of aircraft structures. She’ll be interning there again next summer. Reyes has always been intrigued by aerospace engineering; her grandfather was an aerospace engineer at Rocketdyne and worked on aspects of the Apollo missions. But she hadn’t heard of Northrop Grumman until she arrived at UCLA and saw company representatives on campus. A major draw was Northrop Grumman’s work on the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that is set for launch in 2021.
“That telescope is the coolest thing in the world to me,” Reyes said. “The science behind it … makes sense, but it sounds like sci-fi.
Aerospace and defense firms face an increasingly competitive market for talent, as tech companies also look for engineers with skills in software and artificial intelligence, said Adams of KPMG. Entry-level electrical engineers earn $75,000 to $80,000. With 12 to 15 years of experience, that salary could increase to $146,000 to $150,000, according to Aviation Week data.
Entry-level software engineers in aerospace and defense make about $76,000, according to Aviation Week; the national average for those workers is about $95,000, according to Glassdoor.
Companies are also looking for experience in cybersecurity, electric and rocket power systems, as well as data analytics. Ten years ago, highly coveted job skills included systems engineering and electrical engineering, according to a recent aerospace workforce report from Aviation Week. Even when aerospace companies can compete for tech talent, they have the disadvantage of meeting requirements for classified programs. There is a significant backlog in conducting background investigations for government security clearances, according to a January report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
As of September 2017, more than 700,000 investigations were still in the pipeline, though the backlog has declined since the last reporting, according to a GAO official. The share of the aerospace workforce with “above a secret clearance” has increased to 12.3% in 2017 from 8.1% the previous year, according to the Aviation Week report. Many of the companies surveyed said it takes about five months to get top-secret clearances and more than a year to obtain higher clearance levels. To cope, some companies try to clear employees before they’re hired or poach security-cleared talent from other firms. “You have to account for that in your workforce management process, which basically means you need a longer lead time,” said Carter of Lockheed Martin. “It certainly takes longer now than it used to. Adding to the recruitment pressure is the large number of baby boomers in the industry’s workforce. Many of those who joined the industry toward the end of the space race are nearing retirement age. Retirement rates remain low for now — only 2.2% of the workforce retired last year. But in its survey of 559,000 aerospace workers at 35 U.S. companies, Aviation Week said the average age was 47, with about 30.5% older than 50. Companies are preparing for the inevitable turnover by making plans to transfer knowledge from older employees to newer hires.
Greg Caguimbal, 24, said he’s sought mentorship from older experts in electronics, materials engineering and other areas at Lockheed Martin, where he works part time as a mechanical design and systems engineer. He’s a graduate student at UCLA and plans to graduate next year with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. “I try to talk to these people as much as I can,” he said, “see what’s been working and how it works and kind of just continue the legacy. –.
samantha.masunaga@latimes.com. Twitter: @smasunaga.

 


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What is out in space?

SCIENCE FILE
Tips in the search for life
Report offers advice for NASA scientists hunting for what’s out there
By Karen Kaplan
It’s one of the biggest questions there is: Are we alone in the universe?
NASA scientists in the field of astrobiology are looking for answers. A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has some advice to help them along.

26429910.png
“Out of every 10 stars, six of them have an Earth-like planet,” said Alan Boss , an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science who worked on the report. That means the odds of finding extraterrestrial life are much better than scientists once thought.
The report was released Wednesday at the National Academies’ headquarters in Washington. Here are some of its recommendations.
Scientists searching for life on other worlds should look beneath the surface
If you were to look at Earth from space with an extremely powerful telescope, the signs of life would be obvious: trees clustered in rainforests, herds of elephants roaming across the savanna, the distinctive colors of algae blooms on the water.
But there’s also plenty of life beneath the surface. Consider the soil microbes that produce natural antibiotics , or the giant tube worms (they’re actually mollusks) that thrive on the freezing ocean floor, fueled by hydrothermal vents instead of light from the sun.
Other worlds that may look dormant on the surface could harbor life in their interiors.
Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, is a prime example. Its frozen exterior may give the impression that it’s nothing more than a giant ice cube.
But you can’t judge a world by its outer shell. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft revealed that Enceladus has a briny subsurface ocean with complex organic molecules . That, along with heat generated by tidal forces, makes scientists think that the moon could be hospitable to life .
Scientists need a better idea of how they would recognize alien life if they were to find it
If astrobiologists detect evidence of life, how would they know? Are there certain essential features that any form of life must have? Are some of them unique to living things?
In science-speak, the thing astrobiologists are looking for is a “biosignature” — a detectable sign that life is (or was) present. It may be a particular shape that only a living being could produce. It may be a distinctive pattern of chemical compounds that must have had a biological origin. It may be a gas (or mixture of gases) in a planet’s atmosphere that couldn’t exist in a lifeless system.
Ideally, it would be a combination of several of these, said Barbara Sherwood Lollar, a professor of Earth sciences at the University of Toronto who chaired the committee that produced the report. “No one biomarker is infallible,” she said.
There is still much debate about what would qualify as a biosignature. The report recommends that astrobiologists buckle down and figure this out.
In doing so, they need to consider what would distinguish an actual biosignature from a false alarm. They also need a way to tell whether they’ve seen a true biosignature but accidentally rejected it.
Scientists need to invent some kind of life-detection technology and make sure it really works
One possibility for detecting life is to focus on biosignatures in exoplanet atmospheres. In the last decade, new technologies have greatly improved scientists’ ability to analyze the contents of these distant atmospheres, and NASA should do what it can to accelerate this work, the report said.
It’s also important to look closer to home. Potential biosignatures from some of Earth’s oldest sedimentary rocks can provide scientists something to practice on.
When NASA sends robotic explorers into space, they should be capable of analyzing DNA and RNA with great precision. Ideally, they should be able to study a single sample using a multitude of techniques. In designing test equipment, engineers should focus more on getting the science right than on building something quickly or saving a few bucks.
Another important consideration: Any technologies used on other worlds should tread as lightly as possible. And no matter what, they should not contaminate any other part of the universe with life from Earth.
Scientists can’t look at a planet or a moon in isolation
Any world that hosts (or hosted) life didn’t become habitable on its own. The conditions that make a place life-friendly depend on what’s around it.
The most obvious of these is the star at the center of its solar system: How much energy does it provide? Is that energy source stable?
“You can’t just study the planet — you also have to study the star,” Boss said. “You need to understand the stellar properties in order to understand habitability.”
Other objects in the solar system are important too. The orbits of nearby planets and moons may help keep a habitable world in a life-friendly zone. Their gravitational forces may also contribute to tidal heating, as scientists suspect is the case with Enceladus.
Astrobiologists need better “starlight suppression” tools to take pictures of other worlds
It’s becoming increasingly important to be able to point a camera at an exoplanet and take a detailed picture. The problem is that the light from a nearby star will typically make it hard to see.
The report suggested two ways to get around this.
One is to build more advanced coronagraphs . These can be built right into a telescope to block the light of a nearby star. Coronagraphs were originally designed to study the outer atmosphere of the sun (called the corona ), which would normally be invisible except during an event such as a solar eclipse. In recent years, scientists have started adapting coronagraphs for exoplanet studies.
Another option is to invent some kind of external “star shade” that would block a star’s light directly. These would fly in tandem with space-based telescopes and function like a piece of paper you might hold up to the sun before snapping a picture with your phone.
NASA should make sure that astrobiologists are involved in planning future missions
And they shouldn’t wait to be consulted until after key decisions are made — astrobiological factors should be baked in from the very beginning, when a mission is still in the conceptual stage.
People with expertise in astrobiology should remain involved every step of the way. That includes the operational phase, when a space probe is actually carrying out its assigned work.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Astrobiologists have stepped up their collaboration with NASA experts in astronomy, Earth science, planetary science and heliophysics. But why stop there?
NASA should coordinate its research efforts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation , the report advises. It should also team up with space agencies from other countries.
NASA should even rely on nonprofit initiatives that search for signs of technologically advanced civilizations, such as the SETI Institute and Breakthrough Listen .
karen.kaplan@latimes.com

 

 


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Tips in the search for life

SCIENCE FILE
Tips in the search for life
Report offers advice for NASA scientists hunting for what’s out there
By Karen Kaplan
It’s one of the biggest questions there is: Are we alone in the universe?
NASA scientists in the field of astrobiology are looking for answers. A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has some advice to help them along.

26429910.png
“Out of every 10 stars, six of them have an Earth-like planet,” said Alan Boss , an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science who worked on the report. That means the odds of finding extraterrestrial life are much better than scientists once thought.
The report was released Wednesday at the National Academies’ headquarters in Washington. Here are some of its recommendations.
Scientists searching for life on other worlds should look beneath the surface
If you were to look at Earth from space with an extremely powerful telescope, the signs of life would be obvious: trees clustered in rainforests, herds of elephants roaming across the savanna, the distinctive colors of algae blooms on the water.
But there’s also plenty of life beneath the surface. Consider the soil microbes that produce natural antibiotics , or the giant tube worms (they’re actually mollusks) that thrive on the freezing ocean floor, fueled by hydrothermal vents instead of light from the sun.
Other worlds that may look dormant on the surface could harbor life in their interiors.
Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth-largest moon, is a prime example. Its frozen exterior may give the impression that it’s nothing more than a giant ice cube.
But you can’t judge a world by its outer shell. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft revealed that Enceladus has a briny subsurface ocean with complex organic molecules . That, along with heat generated by tidal forces, makes scientists think that the moon could be hospitable to life .
Scientists need a better idea of how they would recognize alien life if they were to find it
If astrobiologists detect evidence of life, how would they know? Are there certain essential features that any form of life must have? Are some of them unique to living things?
In science-speak, the thing astrobiologists are looking for is a “biosignature” — a detectable sign that life is (or was) present. It may be a particular shape that only a living being could produce. It may be a distinctive pattern of chemical compounds that must have had a biological origin. It may be a gas (or mixture of gases) in a planet’s atmosphere that couldn’t exist in a lifeless system.
Ideally, it would be a combination of several of these, said Barbara Sherwood Lollar, a professor of Earth sciences at the University of Toronto who chaired the committee that produced the report. “No one biomarker is infallible,” she said.
There is still much debate about what would qualify as a biosignature. The report recommends that astrobiologists buckle down and figure this out.
In doing so, they need to consider what would distinguish an actual biosignature from a false alarm. They also need a way to tell whether they’ve seen a true biosignature but accidentally rejected it.
Scientists need to invent some kind of life-detection technology and make sure it really works
One possibility for detecting life is to focus on biosignatures in exoplanet atmospheres. In the last decade, new technologies have greatly improved scientists’ ability to analyze the contents of these distant atmospheres, and NASA should do what it can to accelerate this work, the report said.
It’s also important to look closer to home. Potential biosignatures from some of Earth’s oldest sedimentary rocks can provide scientists something to practice on.
When NASA sends robotic explorers into space, they should be capable of analyzing DNA and RNA with great precision. Ideally, they should be able to study a single sample using a multitude of techniques. In designing test equipment, engineers should focus more on getting the science right than on building something quickly or saving a few bucks.
Another important consideration: Any technologies used on other worlds should tread as lightly as possible. And no matter what, they should not contaminate any other part of the universe with life from Earth.
Scientists can’t look at a planet or a moon in isolation
Any world that hosts (or hosted) life didn’t become habitable on its own. The conditions that make a place life-friendly depend on what’s around it.
The most obvious of these is the star at the center of its solar system: How much energy does it provide? Is that energy source stable?
“You can’t just study the planet — you also have to study the star,” Boss said. “You need to understand the stellar properties in order to understand habitability.”
Other objects in the solar system are important too. The orbits of nearby planets and moons may help keep a habitable world in a life-friendly zone. Their gravitational forces may also contribute to tidal heating, as scientists suspect is the case with Enceladus.
Astrobiologists need better “starlight suppression” tools to take pictures of other worlds
It’s becoming increasingly important to be able to point a camera at an exoplanet and take a detailed picture. The problem is that the light from a nearby star will typically make it hard to see.
The report suggested two ways to get around this.
One is to build more advanced coronagraphs . These can be built right into a telescope to block the light of a nearby star. Coronagraphs were originally designed to study the outer atmosphere of the sun (called the corona ), which would normally be invisible except during an event such as a solar eclipse. In recent years, scientists have started adapting coronagraphs for exoplanet studies.
Another option is to invent some kind of external “star shade” that would block a star’s light directly. These would fly in tandem with space-based telescopes and function like a piece of paper you might hold up to the sun before snapping a picture with your phone.
NASA should make sure that astrobiologists are involved in planning future missions
And they shouldn’t wait to be consulted until after key decisions are made — astrobiological factors should be baked in from the very beginning, when a mission is still in the conceptual stage.
People with expertise in astrobiology should remain involved every step of the way. That includes the operational phase, when a space probe is actually carrying out its assigned work.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Astrobiologists have stepped up their collaboration with NASA experts in astronomy, Earth science, planetary science and heliophysics. But why stop there?
NASA should coordinate its research efforts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation , the report advises. It should also team up with space agencies from other countries.
NASA should even rely on nonprofit initiatives that search for signs of technologically advanced civilizations, such as the SETI Institute and Breakthrough Listen .
karen.kaplan@latimes.com

 


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Scholarship for 2018-2019

Our application is open! High school seniors, apply here.

Programs

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation supports more than 1,400 exceptional college students each year, with annual scholarships of $3.55 million awarded through 3 nationally recognized programs.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program scholarship is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to graduating high school seniors. Students are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities. With the 30th class in 2018, the Foundation has provided over 6,000 Coca-Cola Scholars with more than $66 million in educational support. 150 Coca-Cola Scholars are selected each year to receive this $20,000 scholarship. The application is open! Students who will be graduating in the 2018-2019 academic school year may apply here through Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Please click the box below for our eligibility requirements.

Meet a Coca-Cola Scholar

What does it mean to be a Coca-Cola Scholar? Meet recipient Bridget Galaty at right. From arts education to transgender rights, Bridget enlightens viewers with her documentaries.
2017 Scholars Weekend_Community Service_088_Crop_2017

Before You Apply

We advise reading the information below before you start your application so you can be fully prepared.

The 2018-2019 application has been revamped for this year’s cycle to make the user experience easier and more efficient. We hope this new format will allow more applicants to complete the application and give the Foundation a better understanding of their high school success.

High school seniors may apply here through Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Important Items to Gather

  • A high school transcript – There is no need to upload, email, mail, fax, or submit in any other fashion, a copy of your transcript. While completing the application, you will be asked to type in your specific grades since your freshman year and their course levels. Having your transcript nearby will help you fill in this information.
  • Contact info – The names, email addresses and phone numbers of your guidance counselor and principal.
  • A list of school and non-school related clubs and organizations in which you have participated since your freshman year as well as any corresponding leadership positions.
  • A list of honors and awards that you received when participating in school and non-school-related clubs and organizations and the level of each award (Local, State, Regional, or National/International) since your freshman year.
  • A list of volunteer organizations with which you have served and the number of hours served with each, plus any awards and honors that you have received for your participation since freshman year.
  • A list of employment during school and during the summer. You will need to know weeks and hours worked.

 

Collecting this information will help you complete the online application. We do not request nor accept any supplemental information, including high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, personal statements, head shots, or any other items outside of the online application. Any item mailed, emailed, or faxed to the Foundation will be recycled.

 

Read Our Application Instructions

We highly encourage you to read these instructions before completing your application, and keep them nearby while filling it out.

Check out a Sample Application

Want to be doubly sure you have everything? Click here for a sample application to see exactly what applying will be like. Note that this is just a sample though, and we won’t accept it as your application. We accept only electronic applications for our scholarship.

Get Started

Ready to begin your application? Start here! We look forward to learning more about you.

The Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation proudly supports two-year colleges through the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program, administered by Phi Theta Kappa. The Program awards 200 stipends (up to $237,500) annually across four tiers of recipients in varying amounts:

  • 50 New Century Gold Scholars are awarded $1,500
  • 50 Silver Scholars are awarded $1,250
  • 50 Bronze Scholars are awarded $1,000.

Get application details at www.ptk.org.

Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise

Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise is Phi Theta Kappa’s first scholarship program available to its members to be used during the time they are enrolled in community colleges. 200 scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded based on applications submitted by members.

Get application details at www.ptk.org.

Resources

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is committed to aiding as many students as we can. However, due to the large number of applications and our limited resources, we are able to award only a small percentage of students scholarships. To aid in the quest for financial aid, we’re happy to share the following list of scholarship resources.

Please note the deadlines and eligibility requirements found at each site. We wish all students the best as they endeavor to continue their educations.

General Information

  • FinAid – Links to scholarships, grants, loans, and graduate aid.
  • StudentAid.gov – Information from the U.S. Department of Education on preparing for and funding education beyond high school.
  • College Affordability Guide – This site’s mission is to provide clear, correct info and advice on the many options students have to reduce the cost of their degree, and to offer a fresh analysis of which colleges are doing the most to make high-quality education affordable.

How-To Programs and Books

The Scholarship Workshop – Scholarship information from an award-winning author and scholarship winner.

The Scholarship Academy – Offers curriculum to help students identify tailored scholarship options and build solid scholarship profile.

Search Engines and Scholarship Programs

  • Scholar Snapp – A free, simple to use data standard that allows students to reuse their application information – including contact information, essays, transcripts, etc. – from one scholarship application to another thereby streamlining the college scholarship application process.
  • Scholly – A mobile app that provides students with a fast and simple way to find scholarships for college. (Created by Christopher Gray, a Coca-Cola Scholar!)
  • Peerlift – Proven scholarships, internships, summer programs, and more gathered by fellow students like you. (Founded by a team of 2017 Coca-Cola Scholars!) Learn more about the creation of Peerlift.
  • Fastweb – Create a profile and let fastweb do the research on scholarships, internships colleges and more for you.
  • CashCourse – Information that helps college students stay financially informed.
  • Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation – Educational and scholarship opportunities for students of all levels.
  • Cappex – A free website where you can learn which colleges want you, before you apply and learn about more than $11 billion in merit aid scholarships.
  • Scholarships.com– A free college scholarship search and financial aid information.
  • Scholarship America – Provides information and resources for your scholarship search.
  • KnowHow2GO – Complete information on college prep, whether in middle school or seniors.
  • HS Finder (Hispanic Scholarship Fund) – Scholarship information for Latino students.
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund – Provides scholarships, programmatic and capacity building support to the 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
  • Gates Millennium Scholars – Provides outstanding low income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose.
  • Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund – The nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
  • American Indian College Fund – Provides Native American students with scholarships and financial support for the nation’s 33 accredited tribal colleges and universities.
  • Dell Scholars Program – Recognizes academic potential and determination in students that have a definite need for financial assistance.
  • UNCF – Awards 10,000 students each year through 400 scholarship and internship programs so that students from low- and moderate-income families can afford college tuition, books and room and board.
  • Chegg – A place to connect with scholarships and learn about colleges.
  • Reagan Foundation Scholarships – Scholarship opportunities for outstanding student leaders.
  • Goizueta Legacy Scholarship – Provides scholarships for the children of Coca-Cola employees

 


Leave a comment

Money for Occupy Mars Education

Our application is open! High school seniors, apply here.

Programs

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation supports more than 1,400 exceptional college students each year, with annual scholarships of $3.55 million awarded through 3 nationally recognized programs.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program scholarship is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to graduating high school seniors. Students are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities. With the 30th class in 2018, the Foundation has provided over 6,000 Coca-Cola Scholars with more than $66 million in educational support. 150 Coca-Cola Scholars are selected each year to receive this $20,000 scholarship. The application is open! Students who will be graduating in the 2018-2019 academic school year may apply here through Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Please click the box below for our eligibility requirements.

Meet a Coca-Cola Scholar

What does it mean to be a Coca-Cola Scholar? Meet recipient Bridget Galaty at right. From arts education to transgender rights, Bridget enlightens viewers with her documentaries.
2017 Scholars Weekend_Community Service_088_Crop_2017

Before You Apply

We advise reading the information below before you start your application so you can be fully prepared.

The 2018-2019 application has been revamped for this year’s cycle to make the user experience easier and more efficient. We hope this new format will allow more applicants to complete the application and give the Foundation a better understanding of their high school success.

High school seniors may apply here through Wednesday, October 31, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

Important Items to Gather

  • A high school transcript – There is no need to upload, email, mail, fax, or submit in any other fashion, a copy of your transcript. While completing the application, you will be asked to type in your specific grades since your freshman year and their course levels. Having your transcript nearby will help you fill in this information.
  • Contact info – The names, email addresses and phone numbers of your guidance counselor and principal.
  • A list of school and non-school related clubs and organizations in which you have participated since your freshman year as well as any corresponding leadership positions.
  • A list of honors and awards that you received when participating in school and non-school-related clubs and organizations and the level of each award (Local, State, Regional, or National/International) since your freshman year.
  • A list of volunteer organizations with which you have served and the number of hours served with each, plus any awards and honors that you have received for your participation since freshman year.
  • A list of employment during school and during the summer. You will need to know weeks and hours worked.

 

Collecting this information will help you complete the online application. We do not request nor accept any supplemental information, including high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, personal statements, head shots, or any other items outside of the online application. Any item mailed, emailed, or faxed to the Foundation will be recycled.

 

Read Our Application Instructions

We highly encourage you to read these instructions before completing your application, and keep them nearby while filling it out.

Check out a Sample Application

Want to be doubly sure you have everything? Click here for a sample application to see exactly what applying will be like. Note that this is just a sample though, and we won’t accept it as your application. We accept only electronic applications for our scholarship.

Get Started

Ready to begin your application? Start here! We look forward to learning more about you.

The Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation proudly supports two-year colleges through the Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Program, administered by Phi Theta Kappa. The Program awards 200 stipends (up to $237,500) annually across four tiers of recipients in varying amounts:

  • 50 New Century Gold Scholars are awarded $1,500
  • 50 Silver Scholars are awarded $1,250
  • 50 Bronze Scholars are awarded $1,000.

Get application details at www.ptk.org.

Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise

Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise is Phi Theta Kappa’s first scholarship program available to its members to be used during the time they are enrolled in community colleges. 200 scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded based on applications submitted by members.

Get application details at www.ptk.org.

Resources

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is committed to aiding as many students as we can. However, due to the large number of applications and our limited resources, we are able to award only a small percentage of students scholarships. To aid in the quest for financial aid, we’re happy to share the following list of scholarship resources.

Please note the deadlines and eligibility requirements found at each site. We wish all students the best as they endeavor to continue their educations.

General Information

  • FinAid – Links to scholarships, grants, loans, and graduate aid.
  • StudentAid.gov – Information from the U.S. Department of Education on preparing for and funding education beyond high school.
  • College Affordability Guide – This site’s mission is to provide clear, correct info and advice on the many options students have to reduce the cost of their degree, and to offer a fresh analysis of which colleges are doing the most to make high-quality education affordable.

How-To Programs and Books

The Scholarship Workshop – Scholarship information from an award-winning author and scholarship winner.

The Scholarship Academy – Offers curriculum to help students identify tailored scholarship options and build solid scholarship profile.

Search Engines and Scholarship Programs

  • Scholar Snapp – A free, simple to use data standard that allows students to reuse their application information – including contact information, essays, transcripts, etc. – from one scholarship application to another thereby streamlining the college scholarship application process.
  • Scholly – A mobile app that provides students with a fast and simple way to find scholarships for college. (Created by Christopher Gray, a Coca-Cola Scholar!)
  • Peerlift – Proven scholarships, internships, summer programs, and more gathered by fellow students like you. (Founded by a team of 2017 Coca-Cola Scholars!) Learn more about the creation of Peerlift.
  • Fastweb – Create a profile and let fastweb do the research on scholarships, internships colleges and more for you.
  • CashCourse – Information that helps college students stay financially informed.
  • Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation – Educational and scholarship opportunities for students of all levels.
  • Cappex – A free website where you can learn which colleges want you, before you apply and learn about more than $11 billion in merit aid scholarships.
  • Scholarships.com– A free college scholarship search and financial aid information.
  • Scholarship America – Provides information and resources for your scholarship search.
  • KnowHow2GO – Complete information on college prep, whether in middle school or seniors.
  • HS Finder (Hispanic Scholarship Fund) – Scholarship information for Latino students.
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund – Provides scholarships, programmatic and capacity building support to the 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
  • Gates Millennium Scholars – Provides outstanding low income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose.
  • Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund – The nation’s largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
  • American Indian College Fund – Provides Native American students with scholarships and financial support for the nation’s 33 accredited tribal colleges and universities.
  • Dell Scholars Program – Recognizes academic potential and determination in students that have a definite need for financial assistance.
  • UNCF – Awards 10,000 students each year through 400 scholarship and internship programs so that students from low- and moderate-income families can afford college tuition, books and room and board.
  • Chegg – A place to connect with scholarships and learn about colleges.
  • Reagan Foundation Scholarships – Scholarship opportunities for outstanding student leaders.
  • Goizueta Legacy Scholarship – Provides scholarships for the children of Coca-Cola employees