All Articles Tagged "NASA"

Houston We Have A Problem: Where Are The Black Finalists For The One-Way Trip to Mars?

February 18th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

Something intergalactically amazing is about to go down and Black people might literally miss the ship.

I’m talking about the proposed one-way trip to Mars. Oh, you haven’t heard about it?

Well according to the Washington Post, 100 people are still in the running for a permanent stay on the Red Planet. Two hundred thousand people initially applied for the space journey and only 24 lucky astronauts will be trained for the missions, which will be divided in six separate trips with the first four astronauts expected to depart Earth in 2024.

The pioneering space mission is the brainchild of Dutch visionaries Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders, co-founders of Mars-One, a not-for-profit group which only aim is to establish “permanent human settlement on Mars using existing technology.” According to an article in Space.com, several private companies also have had their eyes set on landing people and even establishing settlements on Mars including one team which is financially backed by the founders of Google and Virgin. However the Mars-One team might be the closest to actually making this a reality.

And they might be the most ambitious. You can see and read many of the details of the settlement plan on the Mars-One website. For the most part, the settlers will reside in environmental-regulating pods, which will protect them from the planet’s harsh and oxygen-free terrain. While the expected launch is in 2024, the team estimates that the space flight will take about 8 months and actually land on the planet sometime in 2025. A test mission will be launched in 2018, which includes sending communication satellites, two rovers and several cargo ahead of the astronauts to Mars in hopes of providing “proof of the concept for some of the technologies that are important for human mission.”

All told, the journey will cost an estimated $6 billion for each one-way trip. To help raise capital, the Mars One team is looking to televised a competition, which will help to narrow the applicants down to the winning 24. Sort of like Big Brother – but instead of a million dollar prize you get a shitload of frequent flyer miles.

And if you’re wondering what NASA thinks, the space agency, which is “developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s,” appears to be cautiously supportive of the various proposed private missions, “but would offer advice if it felt lives were in danger,” according to an article from last year in the Guardian UK.

I am cautiously optimistic as well. Although the risks are plentiful and the reality show angle is kind of creepy(who am I kidding? I’ll totally watch it), I still think this is coolest thing in the world. Blame it on my inner nerd, but even if the trip is a total disaster and something returns to Earth along with the astronauts, say like in Octavia Butler’s Clay Ark, it will be well worth it. I mean, let’s be honest here: humanity has become a bit redundant and self-destructive. And if space aliens are needed for the world to come together than I say bring on Kahn. As crazy as we are on this planet, I believe we can take him. No problem!

Or at the very least, we’ll get a nice new vacation spot. How many of you travel snobs would love to brag about having that Mars stamp in your passport book?

However there is one thing that bothers me about this whole entire proposed trip, which trumps any concern I have about the possibility of a Mars attack. And I’m talking about the racial exclusivity of finalists for this pioneering journey.

Yesterday the Guardian UK highlighted the top 10 out of 100 finalists, as ranked by Mars-One organizers, and as no surprise, the list is predominately people of European descent (i.e. White people). To be exact: seven of the top candidates are White males and just three are women. Out of the three women, two are White and one is Asian. All the people are from the western world or are eastern Europeans, with exception of the Asian lady from Japan. And none of the candidates are Black.

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the profiles for all 100 finalists and discovered that at least 71 of the finalists are Whites, hailing from all over the Western world and Europe including the UK, the US, Australia, Poland, Canada, Switzerland and Russia. While only a measly 6 candidates are of African descent including: an South African Indian (classified as Black in South Africa), two women (one is biracial) from the U.S., a man from Nigeria, a Black woman from Brazil and a Black man from Belgium. The rest of the candidates are a mix of Asian, Middle Eastern and Hispanic.

Even God had to foresight to tell Noah to bring two of each kind on the Ark. As nearly two-thirds of the world’s population is currently living in Asia and with Africa’s own population, which is already the youngest in the world, set to quadruple (not to mention Europe continuing to see a decline in its own population), it does make one wonder why this project will be more than likely pioneered by people who look less like humanity?

While it is true that exploration and adventure has coursed through man’s blood since we discovered we had feet; it is also true that conquering and conquest, and more importantly colonizing new spaces through land rights claims, are also in man’s blood too. In particular, the Europeans. As this map on Vox points out, there are only five countries in the entire world, which haven not been either colonized or forced into some partnership with Europe.

What I’m saying is that we if don’t get up there to Mars along with those White folks, White people will likely claim all of it. I’m talking every rock, every crater, every dune and big-headed alien species will be the property of the Queen of England. And by the time we get up there, there will be nothing left for us to claim other than our same ol’ tired position in the struggle, fighting for inclusion and respect. Hell, the big-headed alien species would probably get land rights on Mars before Black folks will.

No shade to our Caucasian readers, but we need to watch White people. For all we know, they could be trying to establish new homes on Mars with the express interest of intentionally leaving us down here and turning Earth into a slave planet. No siree, can we go out like that – twice. That’s why we seriously need to monitor the selection process for this mission and if needed, campaign and raise an Al-Sharpton/Jess Jackson-inspired stink until more than half of those chosen to resettle humanity are people of color (with at least six of them being people from African descent. I would say half, but I’m not trying to be greedy).

With that said, we may want to draw straws to see who wants to be the first Brother From Another Planet, as some in the science community are saying that the Mars-One settlements will not work and all the colonizers will be dead in 68-days from suffocation. But don’t let that deter you. Think about what Rosa Parks would do…

 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Petition Launched Urging Beyoncé To Donate ‘XO’ Proceeds To NASA

January 9th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Beyoncé

Source: Instagram

Beyoncé recently responded to the controversy surrounding her use of audio from the NASA Challenger tragedy on her popular “XO” track, expressing that the song was a tribute to the victims.

“My heart goes out to the families of those lost in the Challenger disaster,” Bey said in a statement. “The song ‘XO’ was recorded with the sincerest intention to help heal those who have lost loved ones and to remind us that unexpected things happen, so love and appreciate every minute that you have with those who mean the most to you.”

Many weren’t buying her response, which was perceived by some as calculated and insincere. Now folks are challenging Bey to put her money where her mouth is. A Florida woman by the name of Sarah Mcnulty recently launched a petition asking that the singer donate 25 percent of proceeds from “XO” to NASA’s Challenger Learning Center, which is a nonprofit founded by the families of the Challenger astronauts.

“We call on Beyoncé to donate 25% of the proceeds from her new song to the Challenger Learning Center, started and maintained by the families of the fallen astronauts,” the petition reads. “Beyoncé’s new song entitled XO samples a famous audio clip from the tragic space shuttle Challenger accident, in which seven American heroes were killed. This thoughtless gesture has shocked America and reopened an old wound. In addition, such a casual pop culture treatment trivializes what should always be remembered as an extremely painful chapter in American history.”

Beyoncé, claiming no harm meant, has suggested that the inclusion of the clip was meant to honor the fallen astronauts. While this is ill conceived logic, it indicates that Beyoncé is sensitive to the grief of the deceased’s families and regrets that her mistake has caused so much harm.

It should follow, then, that Beyoncé should welcome a way to fix her faux pas and make up to the families. That’s why we are calling upon Beyoncé to donate 25% of the proceeds earned from the sales, syndication, and performance of the song ‘XO’ to the Challenger Learning Center.

Started and maintained to this day by the families of the fallen astronauts of the Challenger disaster, the these science centers are the result of the families’ collective decision to use the money received in legal retribution from NASA to continue the Challenger seven’s mission to explore, educate, and inspire young minds in space and science education. Since 1986, the generous donations of countless supporters has allowed the Challenger Learning Center to establish over 40 locations in the US, United Kingdom, Canada, and South Korea. No small expense, each location is crafted with incredible detail to be a veritable wonderland of science for children to explore.

It is the ultimate example of taking a terrible situation and using it to accomplish something truly beautiful. We call upon Beyoncé to live up to her own standards and do the same.”

So far the petition has acquired 4,607 signatures.

Do you think Bey should consider this or are people blowing the situation out of proportion?

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise

Paid To Sleep? NASA Offers Test Subjects $18,000 To Stay In Bed

September 24th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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via @NASA

via @NASA

It sounds almost too good to be true: NASA is paying out $18,000 for participants to lie in a bed that is uniquely designed to mimic space’s zero-gravity environment. The catch? You’ll have to stay in bed for more than two months, ABC News reports.

Subjects are being paid such a hefty compensation due to the harmful physical effects of staying motionless in bed for long periods of time. “[P]articipants will experience a host of physical effects including atrophying muscles and a decrease of bone density. In addition, a person’s overall fitness can decrease, since their hearts don’t have to work as hard to pump blood,” ABC News added.

Beth Ann Shriber, who participated in a similar study seven years ago, explained her experience with NASA’s Bed Rest project:

“Shriber was there 90 days. That’s three months of not just lying down, but lying down with her head about 5 inches lower than her feet at all times. When she ate, when she slept, when she showered, when she went to the bathroom – her body stayed at a 6 degree tilt through it all. She could roll over or prop herself up on an elbow, but sitting or standing was off limits. It wasn’t exactly hard, Shriber said, but she wouldn’t call being a test subject in NASA’s Bed Rest Project easy, either.”

“You don’t have to do anything but lie here,” Shriber said in an article on NASA.gov. “I would say it’s more about enduring.”

Despite the challenges, however, NASA still receives “numerous” requests from past participants that wish to engage in the experiment again, said John Neigut, a researcher with the NASA Flight Analogs Project.

The purpose behind this study is to analyze the lasting effects of weightlessness on astronauts. “In space there is no gravity to keep fluid from traveling towards the top of the body, so study participants lie with their head slightly lower than their feet,” ABC said. “Certain subjects will be able to periodically exercise on specially designed equipment like a vertical treadmill.”

To be recruited for the study, participants will need to pass a modified Air Force Class physical which includes a test screening for drugs, alcohol and infectious diseases. The study will take place in NASA’s Human Test Subject Facility at the University of Texas.

Would you do this?

MN Daily Salute: Mae Jemison

February 25th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

Mae Jemison

CALLING: Physician and astronaut 

WHY WE’RE SALUTING HER:

Mae Jemison is a physician and NASA astronaut who became the first black woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992.

Jemison, who was born in Decatur, GA,  grew up in Chicago, and even as a young girl knew that she would eventually travel into space.  Her inquisitive mind quickly became fascinated with science and nature, although interestingly, she proved to be both left- and right-brained, taking up all forms of dance from African, ballet, and jazz, to modern and even Japanese at age 11. After honing her skills for several years, Jemison was faced with the difficult decision of choosing to go to medical school in New York or become a professional dancer. That’s when her mother told her, “You can always dance if you’re a doctor, but you can’t be a doctor if you’re a dancer.”

Jemison listened to her mother and enrolled at Stanford University at just 16 years old. In 1977, she received a B.S. in chemical engineering and  a B.A. in African and Afro-American Studies. In 1981, she obtained her medical degree from Cornell Medical College and interned at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center before working as a general practitioner. During medical school, Jemison traveled to Cuba, Kenya, and Thailand to provide primary medical care to people living there, which led to her joining the Peace Corps and serving as a Peace Corps Medical Officer from 1983 to 1985, having responsibility for the health of Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Liberia and Sierra Leone. While at Cornell, Jemison also took lessons in modern dance at the Alvin Ailey school and later built a dance studio in her home and choreographed and produced several shows of modern jazz and African dance.

While in the Peace Corps, Jemison was selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps in 1987 and on September 12, 1992, she flew her first and only space mission as a Mission Specialist on STS-47.  Just a year later she resigned from NASA to form her own company, the Jemison Group, which researches the application of technology to daily life.

Since NASA, Jemison has had an illustrious career that includes several television appearances, awards, and honors, including nine honorary doctorates in science, engineering, letters, and the humanities. From 1995 to 2002, Jemison was a professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College and is currently a Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. She even participated n a forum for promising girls in the Washington, DC, public schools with Michelle Obama just a few years ago. For being an extraordinary example of excellence for African American women in the STEM fields, we salute Mae Jemison.

 

Click here to meet all of our salutes.

College At 16, NASA Career, & Reality TV: Moogega Cooper Is A Nerd And Proud of It

February 1st, 2013 - By Lauren DeLisa Coleman
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Jeremy Freeman via TBS

Jeremy Freeman via TBS

You know we love to bring you “first’s” in this “Behind the Click” profile series.  We’ve had our first Canadian, first veteran and now… our first TV celebrity. Hands up if you’ve caught TBS’s King of the Nerds!  Either way, we’ve got the interview with the only African-American woman on this reality competition, which is gaining speed.

Moogega Cooper just may change your idea of how a “nerd” should look and think. While she may have gone to college at 16 and then worked at NASA as a Planetary Projection Engineer, there is much more than meets the tech eye. We’ve got the inside scoop.  Read on to see how this dynamic woman is breaking boundaries and making moves representin’ for the browner, female side of the technorati.

Current Occupation: Planetary Projection Engineer
Favorite Website: xkcd.com “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”
Favorite Read: It’s not really a book for reading, but I carry around the Diabolical KenKen book everywhere I go!
Recent Read: Eat and Run, Scott Jurek
2013′s Ultimate Goal: My ultimate goal for this year is to have a funded proposal where I am the PI (principal investigator)!

Madame Noire:  So, you are from Pasadena!  What was it like growing up there? Where did you attend college/grad school?

Moogega Cooper: You know, I say Pasadena is my hometown but I actually grew up in Beverly, New Jersey until I was 11 when we moved to Hampton, VA. I was pretty sheltered growing up so I spent most of my time playing with my siblings or by myself. I attended college at Hampton University where I majored in Physics and minored in Space, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences. The program was beyond amazing and that is where I learned my first programming language and worked with real NASA satellite data at 16 years of age. I have so many people to thank at Hampton who significantly contributed to where I am today (Including my main mentor, Dr. James Russell III).

MN: Hurray for Hampton and mentors!  But then you even went on to get a PhD.  What did you receive your Master’s and PhD in exactly? How did you have such clarity to achieve that by 24?

MC: I received my Master’s and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Thermal Fluid Sciences. I was certain while performing the last two years of my co-op experience at NASA Langley, I was going to study Plasma (the fourth state of matter, not the component in your blood, although Langmuir was inspired by blood plasma when he coined the name to describe this electrical discharge).

MN:  Understood.  When did you first begin to become interested in technology?

MC: I was always interested in technology, since I was a little girl and was my father’s main assistant when he would remodel parts of the house or performed electrical work. I then became interested in astrophysics after watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos in middle school. We’d rent another cassette each time we visited the public library. From then on, I knew I had to focus on math and science in order to achieve this goal. This is what I keep in mind when speaking to the next generation of explorers. When you have a prize you can affix your eye on, it helps when you feel tired or discouraged. Keep that eye on the prize!

MN: Very true.  So from there, how did you obtain your position at NASA?

MC: I went through what is referred to as the “NASA Pipeline” where I participated in educational programs as an undergraduate (Co-Op program) through graduate school (NASA Harriet G. Jenkins Pre-Doctoral Fellowship) which allowed me to spend time at JPL where I was able to demonstrate my capabilities. This resulted in an offer as a Post-Doc upon completion of my Ph.D. After contributing more of my efforts and knowledge, I was hired as a full-time employee in 2011!

Taking Flight: 7 Black Female Astronauts and Aviators Who Changed History

August 3rd, 2012 - By Terri Williams
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As elite members of human space programs, or one of the select few pilots working for the military, black women have been soaring above fruited plains and far-flung planets for the cause of space exploration and freedom since 1922. In the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, they have battled gender and racial biases to demonstrate – once again – the unstoppable power of a determined sister.

Image: Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

An avid student, Mae Jemison earned dual degrees in chemical engineering and African-American studies at Stanford University, while becoming fluent in Japanese, Russian and Swahili. She received a doctor of medicine degree from Cornell University and then served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Upon her return to the United States, Jemison applied to the astronaut program at NASA.

Her original application was rejected, but the second time around, she was one of 15 candidates selected from a field of 2,000.  When Jemison concluded her training in 1988, she was the fifth black astronaut, and the first black female astronaut in the history of NASA. She completed her first flight in 1992. It was an eight-day mission, and she logged 190 hours, 30 minutes and 23 seconds on the space shuttle Endeavor as a mission specialist – making her the first black woman to go into space.

Chicago-Area Astronauts Reflect on Space Program’s End

July 7th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Tribune) — If America had not taken on the multibillion-dollar space shuttle program, sending orbiters into space 134 times over 30 years, the world would be without the Hubble Space Telescope’s jaw-dropping photographs of the ancient universe and it is doubtful there would be an International Space Station.  That is the consensus of three astronauts from the Chicago area who worked and lived aboard the shuttle orbiters. All three say they are sorry to see the program retire when Atlantis returns from the 135th and final shuttle launch later this month.  “It is an amazing machine, probably the most complex space vehicle we will ever build,” said John Grunsfeld, 52, who was born in Chicago’s Hyde Parkneighborhood and went to Highland Park High School.

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Mary J. Blige, NASA Pair Up to Get Girls Into Science

September 10th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Black Enterprise) — Mary J. Blige is partnering with NASA to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). NASA released two public service announcements featuring Blige and space shuttle astronaut Leland Melvin this week on NASA TV online. In addition, Blige, who cofounded the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now in 2008, has made several television appearances in the last week to talk about the program.

NASA to Help Investigate Toyota Problems

March 30th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(CBSNews.com) — NASA and the National Academy of Sciences are joining the government’s effort to figure out what caused the sudden acceleration problems that led to Toyota’s massive recalls.

NASA scientists with expertise in electronics will help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study potential electronic ties to unintended acceleration in Toyotas. NASA’s knowledge of electronics, computer hardware and software and hazard analysis will ensure a comprehensive review, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday.

In a separate study, the National Academy of Sciences will examine unwanted acceleration and electronic vehicle controls in cars from around the auto industry, LaHood said. The National Academy is an independent organization chartered by Congress.

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NASA to Help Investigate Toyota Problems

March 30th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(CBSNews.com) — NASA and the National Academy of Sciences are joining the government’s effort to figure out what caused the sudden acceleration problems that led to Toyota’s massive recalls.

NASA scientists with expertise in electronics will help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study potential electronic ties to unintended acceleration in Toyotas. NASA’s knowledge of electronics, computer hardware and software and hazard analysis will ensure a comprehensive review, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday.

In a separate study, the National Academy of Sciences will examine unwanted acceleration and electronic vehicle controls in cars from around the auto industry, LaHood said. The National Academy is an independent organization chartered by Congress.

Read More…