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JPL’s Dressmaker

Did you read the recent story about JPL “dressmaker” Lien Pham who makes thermal blankets for spacecraft? The materials, methods, and techniques are an amazing combination of traditional and very techy.

“What kind of materials go into a thermal blanket?

We use multiple layers of Mylar films with Dacron netting to separate them. For the outermost surface, we use Kapton film or Beta cloth, which resist temperature change.

We also use gold Kapton, which is good for conducting electricity. There’s a black material called carbon field Kapton. That’s for a charged environment, with a lot of electricity. It dissipates the charge.

What Kind of tools do you use?

We use commercial sewing machines designed for thick material such as denim. It has a walking feed that pulls in the material and cuts our sewing thread automatically. We also use a variety of hand tools like a measuring scale, scissors, surgical scalpels, hole punches, a heat gun, leather punch and weight scale.” article on Lian Pham and the JPL seamstresses explains

“Nasa hires women with sewing experience for a reason. When engineers couldn’t figure out how to work with Teflon – the non-stick material that coats many saucepans – they were at a loss.

Lien suggested folding the edge of the material and sewing it like a hem, as she would with a shirt at home.

It worked.”

Science News Technology Space NASA Artificial Intelligence Weird Science Science of Sci-Fi Giant Exoplanet With Carbon Monoxide Atmosphere ‘Defies All Expectations’

9ba340aa7f1de69ad6ad7f6ace4d13f9_LApplied Technology Institute (ATICourses) is offering a brand new Exoplanets course.  The news below could be of interest to our readers.

This is the kind of discovery that reminds you just how little weactually know about space. Scientists have found a mysterious exoplanet 10 times the size of Jupiter—and no one can quite explain it.
Wrapped in carbon monoxide and water-free, scientists located inhospitable exoplanet WASP-18b with the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes about 330 light years from Earth.
The exoplanet might be far away, but it’s a giant in its neck of the woods—it has the mass of approximately 10 Jupiters.
NASA researchers note it has a stratosphere, as does Earth, but unlike our stratosphere, where the abundance of ozone absorbs UV radiation and helps protect our planet, WASP-18b’s is loaded with carbon monoxide—a rare discovery.
“We find evidence for a strong thermal inversion in the dayside atmosphere of the highly irradiated hot Jupiter WASP-18b…based on emission spectroscopy from Hubble Space Telescope secondary eclipse observations and Spitzer eclipse photometry,” researcher Kyle Sheppard said.

“The derived composition and profile suggest that WASP-18b is the first example of both a planet with a non-oxide driven thermal inversion and a planet with an atmospheric metallicity inconsistent with that predicted for Jupiter-mass planets.”

WASP-18b is a “hot Jupiter,” which unlike the gas giants of our solar system that are positioned with distance from the Sun, are especially close. Our Jupiter takes 12 years to orbit the sun once, WASP-18b circles its star every 23 hours.

NASA Wants Your Help to Name a Space Object, What Could Go Wrong

quaoar_animation_dark_crsub_circleThere’s a small, icy object floating at the outer edge of our Solar System, in the messy Kuiper belt. Or it could be two objects, astronomers are not sure.

But NASA is on track to find out more, as that object has been chosen as the next flyby target for the New Horizons spacecraft – the same probe that gave us incredible photos of Pluto in 2015. And now they want your help to give that target a catchy name.

Currently, the enigmatic Kuiper belt object is designated 2014 MU69, but that’s just the provisional string of letters and numbers any newly discovered object gets.

“Yes, we’re going to give 2014 MU69 a real name, rather than just the “license plate” designator it has now,” New Horizons’ principal investigator Alan Stern wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

“The details of how we’ll name it are still being worked out, but NASA announced a few weeks back that it will involve a public naming contest.”

And now, folks, our time to shine has arrived.

NASA has finally extended an invitation for people to submit their ideas for a name, although they note this is not going to be the officially-official name just yet, but rather a nickname to be used until the flyby happens.

The team at New Horizons already have a bunch of ideas prepared, which now form the basis of the naming campaign, and anyone can already vote for those.

Amongst current choices put forward by the team are Z’ha’dum – a fictional planet from the TV series Babylon 5; Camalor – a fictional city actually located in the Kuiper belt according to Robert L. Forward’s novel Camelot 30K; and Mjölnir – the name of Norse thunder god Thor’s epic hammer.

One of the most interesting aspects of MU69 is that we’re not even sure whether the object is one body or two – telescope observations have hinted it could actually be two similarly-sized bodies either in close mutual orbit, or even stuck together.

Read more.

Cyber Warfare Is Bigger and Scarier Than You Think, Security Expert Says


170121-N-FI568-020 PENSACOLA, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2016) Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 1st Class Brandon Janice, a Joint Cyber Analysis Course instructor at Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Corry Station, helps a high school student, complete cybersecurity challenges during the third annual CyberThon event at Naval Air Station Pensacola. CyberThon provides northwest Florida high school and college students an opportunity to gain experience in cyber defense and engagement procedures under the instruction of active industry experts. IWTC Corry Station staff members volunteered to act as mentors for participating students. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Taylor L. Jackson/Released)
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Taylor L. Jackson/Released

Applied Technology Institute (ATIcourses) offers a variety of courses on Cyber Security.  We thought the information below would be of interest to our readers. Cyber Leader Course (CLC) Cyber Security – Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Cyber Warfare – Global Trends- D131 Of all the keynotes at this year’s t3 Enterprise conference in Las Vegas, the one most illuminating and alarming was delivered by Isaac Ben-Israel, the chairman of the Israel Space Agency and head of the Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space. A military scientist who is also a retired general of the Israel Defense Forces and former member of parliament, Ben-Israel presented his views on the development of artificial intelligence and the impact it has on the cyber threats that can lead to ransomware attacks or breaches such as the one Equifax experienced this year. Using the Stuxnet virus, which took an Iranian uranium facility offline, Ben-Israel noted that real physical effects — in this case the collapse of the centrifuge machines — can result from “virtual” information such as the computer virus. This led him to propose four false dogmas relating to cyber warfare. First, cyber warfare is not only about information, as evidenced by the Stuxnet virus. Second, cyber warfare is not only about the internet — the Iranian facility wasn’t even connected to the internet. Third, cyber warfare is not only about computers, as there was not a computer to be seen in the Iranian nuclear facility. Stuxnet attacked the centrifuge machine controllers instead of computers. Finally, as mentioned at  security awareness training materials, cybersecurity is not only about technology, as without taking into account the psychology of individuals and social behavior, legal problems or business considerations, one would not be able to choose the right technology to develop in the first place. Ben-Israel says cyber security is simply the dark side of computing, and our industry is tasked with minimizing that dark side by taking preventative steps. Enter artificial intelligence based on machine learning algorithms, now known as deep learning. AI plays two distinct roles in the financial advisor community, first as intelligence to drive trading — Ben Israel estimates 95% of all trades in the exchanges are now computer-driven — and AI also is the underpinning of modern robo software that is increasing in popularity. However, AI may play a bigger role in the future, as the engine in cybersecurity tools that help prevent socially engineered phishing attacks and viruses from impacting the machines and networks that increasingly are the lifeblood of businesses. He left the audience with some points to ponder. “When we make a biological virus, we have to check that it won’t cause a pandemic,” said Ben-Israel. “But, we don’t have to do that for computer viruses.” His final, echoing thought: “You have to run very fast to be one step ahead with cybersecurity … if you want to survive.”    

NASA Center Directors Launch World Series Bragging Rights Duel


Following up on our last blog and from a Press Release posted Thursday, October 26, 2017, by the JetPropulsion Laboratory:

When it comes to space exploration, many believe America must make a choice between having human “Astros” exploring the solar system or using robotic probes as planet or asteroid “Dodgers.”

NASA sees both approaches as essential to expanding the human presence in the universe. But that doesn’t mean that two of NASA’s centers can’t engage in a little friendly rivalry when it comes to their hometown baseball teams competing in the 2017 World Series.

Houston is home to both the American League’s Houston Astros and NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), the hub of human spaceflight, while the Los Angeles area is home to both the National League’s L.A. Dodgers and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, one of the pillars of robotic space and planetary missions.

On behalf of their respective centers, JSC Director Ellen Ochoa, who actually is a native Californian, and JPL Director Michael Watkins, who actually is a University of Texas at Austin alumnus, have decided the World Series deserves to be the subject of a little bragging rights wager.

So, here’s the contest: If the Houston Astros win the best-of-seven series, Watkins will have to wear an Astros jersey for a day. If the series goes the L.A. Dodgers’ way, Ochoa will wear a Dodgers jersey.

“JSC is proud to be a citizen of Houston, and, as such, we are proud of all the city’s accomplishments and its great spirit,” Ochoa said. “And our team is actually named after our space center, so I’m happy to be able to show support for that, and glad to have a little fun in challenging a center that, except for this week, is our close partner in exploration. I am looking forward to seeing a little bit of Houston at JPL soon.”

“JPLers are proud to work and live in the Los Angeles area here in beautiful Southern California,” Watkins said. “We love the chance to show our support for this great city, and for the great baseball tradition of the Dodgers. This is a nice way to have a little fun with our good friends at JSC and we hope to see some Dodger blue there shortly.”

When it comes to the reality of spaceflight, the two centers have collaborated and compared notes on a variety of space projects for nearly half a century. NASA understands that robotic exploration has always been a precursor to human space exploration and that more and more, we see robots and humans flying together, helping each other explore. Rather than rivals, JSC and JPL are close teammates in expanding our knowledge of the universe and increasing the limits humanity explores.

But in the meantime, JSC invites all Astros fans to “Orange Out” and JPL invites all Dodgers fans to “Bleed Blue.” May the best team win!

Baseball Predictions and Home-Team Hopes

Friends lucky enough to attend game 1 of the 2017 World Series at Dodgers Stadium.

Last year, my colleague, Lisa Badart, wrote a post about the pride for her favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, winning the World Series. I commented on her post that I had predicted this win.

It’s important to note that, although I adore baseball, I am not particularly known to closely follow rosters, statistics, and standings to consistently make accurate predictions as to those teams who make it all the way to the World Series — let alone win the event.

However, on August 14th of this year, I wrote a text message to a friend that read, “My prediction for the World Series 2017, although it’s still early: Dodgers vs. Astros.” As a Los Angeles native, there is no doubt that my hope — based on their outstanding record — was that the Dodgers would play in the series.

Here we are today: game 2 ended last night in the 11th inning with the Astros winning the game and the series tied 1-1. Both games 1 and 2 were exhilarating and a number of my friends in L.A. were fortunate to attend and share the excitement with me through sounds and images.

We are all saddened by what occurred in Houston this year and I do wish the Astros the best. Nonetheless, I cannot deny that I would love to see the L.A. Dodgers win the series. Go Dodgers!

Francesco Zamboni, ATI Courses

New Threats Cause Electronic Warfare to Evolve

radarThe weapons and technologies of war are constantly evolving – changing more rapidly year to year in the 21st Century.

Bob Schena, CEO of Rajant Corp. in Malvern, PA, notes, “Spectrum dominance is the new high ground; all weapons systems today are highly reliant on communications of one sort or another, whether global positioning system (GPS) or internal communications. If someone can distort GPS or disable onboard systems, you’re toast. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 12. We are so reliant on communications in our style of fighting that it is absolutely critical and will get even more critical. If you’re at a communications disadvantage, I don’t see how you can last very long.”

As the lines tend to blur between EW, cyber warfare, and signals intelligence (SIGINT) tending to blur, EW itself is changing as well.

U.S. Army, says Maj. Rich-ard Michel, Cyber & EW Operations Troop Commander within the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) at Fort Meade, MD, notes, “As a result of our better understanding of multi-domain battle and our use of EW, cyber, and space ops as they continue to evolve, we will continue to experience a more advanced and capable Army than has ever been seen in history. AWG’s job is to look at the decision-making process, how that will change doctrine and organizations. New technologies give commanders better options on how to employ that capability. That is an inevitability and an absolute positive for the Army, with greater capabilities and technologies empowering us to accomplish our goals.”

Experts note that they will witness even greater speed and evolutionary technologies in the next decade and beyond that few can even partially predict. One that is on everyone’s list, however, is artificial intelligence (AI), which is likely to play a major role in the future of EW as advances in technology are occurring at a record pace.

Marc Couture, senior product manager for digital signal processing at the Curtiss-Wright Corp. Defense Solutions Division in Ashburn, VA, notes, “In EW, you need to convert everything to ones and zeros with analog-to-digital converters. In terms of capturing the EM spectrum in an RF microwave sense, we have some products that capture data at 25 gigasamples per second, which is a huge amount and fairly unique,” Couture says; 1 gigasample is one billion samples. “What’s been very instrumental with the A/D converters is the speed of gigasamples per second is getting faster and faster and with greater resolution. With an EW system, then, you can keep an eye on more of the spectrum at the same time, Ten years ago, technology would not have been able to pick out all the signals deep in the noise. But this also means the data becomes a bigger fire hose, so you will need multiple high-power processing to sort it all out.”

While evolving technologies advance at a record pace, artificial intelligence is likely to play a major role in EW. Couture also notes that, “In the past in EW, you had a classified list of target signatures, but now there are more and more new threats and to counter some of them – especially if you are in theater in combat and seeing something for the first time – you have cognitive systems, a neural net AI, sometimes called deep learning or machine learning, to do this on the fly,” Couture says. “It’s in the toddler phase now, but these cognitive techniques will begin deploying in the next decade. This will require a lot more processing power than a decade ago. It used to be megaflops, now gigaflops, and becoming teraflops.”

For more on this topic:

The Applied Technology Institute (ATI) offers a wide variety of up-to-date and in-depth courses in Radars, Missiles, and Defense.

Albert Einstein’s Prediction Was Realized


CBS and many other news outlets and technical publications reported that two neutron stars, one exceeding the mass of the sun by 1.6 times, collided with a smaller, but a still, significant star, collided “producing a so-called “kilonova” explosion that seeded the local environment with a flood of heavy elements ranging from gold and platinum to uranium and beyond, scientists said Monday.” These neutron stars were formed in supernova explosions approximately 2 billion years after the big bang.

After crashing together at nearly the speed of light, “radiating gravitational waves and a torrent of electromagnetic radiation that reached Earth at roughly the same moment 130 million years after the fact.”

This collision is “an astronomical gold mine of sorts” as supernova explosions create heavy metals, that cannot alone “explain the observed abundances of gold, platinum, uranium and other heavy elements.”

“Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity. The equations indicated that massive bodies under acceleration, like two merging black holes, neutron stars or the collapsing cores of huge stars in the death throes of supernova explosions, would radiate gravitational energy in the form of waves distorting the fabric of spacetime.”

For more information, visit:

The Applied Technology Institute provides a broad range of Space- and Satellite-related short courses.  For a listing of available courses see:

The U.S. Military Needs to Be Ready to Wage 3 Very Different Types of Wars

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Kluck, Commander of the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment (1–68 Armor), 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (3rd ABCT), 4th Infantry Division (4th ID), prepares to dismount his M1A2 Abrams tank after a Combined Arms Live Fire at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, July 31, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Kluck, Commander of the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment (1–68 Armor), 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (3rd ABCT), 4th Infantry Division (4th ID), prepares to dismount his M1A2 Abrams tank after a Combined Arms Live Fire at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, July 31, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Gertrud Zach)

In an article published by The National interest in Oct. 2017, Dave Majumdar cites that, “As rival powers rise to challenge the United States, the Pentagon is faced with the problem of how to face down a spectrum of challenges that range from nuclear deterrence to high-end conventional wars to the low-end counterinsurgency fights.”  How will the Pentagon address all three at the same time? Secretary of Defense, John Mattis, defines it as the Pentagon;s “Problem Statement.” Speaking to an audience at the Association of the U.S. Army Exposition on Oct. 9th, Mattis indicated that “the Defense Department is taking a three-pronged approach to the problem.”

To read more about this approach, visit:

The Applied Technology Institute (ATI Courses) offers many short courses on the topics of Radar, Missiles, and Defense, including the following upcoming open enrollments:

See a list of all Radar, Missiles, and Defense courses that ATI offers as open enrollment or on-site.

Examples Of Before and After Imagery That Can Assist In Response Recovery and Rebuilding Operation Planning and Assessment.

As Hurricane Irma churned through the Caribbean and up Florida’s coast,   satellites have been capturing high-resolution images of the storm’s damage. Imaging in the Caribbean became possible over the weekend as the clouds moved out of the area.

Before-and-after imagery taken between Friday, Sept. 8 and Sept. 11 of several places in the Caribbean: Tortola, Turks and Caicos, St Maarten, Necker Island, Barbuda and Saint Martin. The “after” images were taken by Digital Globe’s WorldView-3, WorldView-2 and GeoEye-1 satellites.

Digital Globe has also publicly released pre- and post-event satellite imagery of the areas affected by Hurricane Irma through our Open Data Program, which provides imagery to support recovery efforts in the wake of large-scale natural disasters. Humanitarian Open Street Map Team (HOT) set up mapping tasks for Irma using Digital Globe imagery in preparation for the storm. Additional tasks will be established once more post-event imagery is available, as will a Tomnod crowd sourcing campaign.


Port Barbuda PortBarbudaPost StMaartenPreStMaartenPostPhotos credit to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce.