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EXCLUSIVE: Autonomous Swarms Exploring Space

Stacy Conner

A Space Channel News Exclusive, Stacy Conner interviews Dr. Nhut Ho about exploring space with thousands of autonomous astronauts.
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Stacy Conner

Dr. Nhut Tan Ho is currently Founding Director of the NASA Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), where he has taken on multifaceted leadership roles with the purpose of making meaningful and deep impact on students and society.

 

As a change agent, Dr. Ho’s leadership purpose is to build institutional research capacity to engage underserved/underrepresented students in STEAHM, and to provide know-how to higher education systems in the developing world to transform curricula and culture, and produce graduates that meet international accreditation standards.  A case in point is his leadership in securing $3.8-million in grants from NASA, the Department of Defense, industry, and the CSU system, to establish the Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (ARCS) at CSUN.  ARCS, is a multidisciplinary university center of excellence, combining the knowledge, experience, and talents of faculty and students from across CSUN colleges and units, including Science (physical, social, and behavioral) (S), Technology (Technology and engineering), Entrepreneurship (E and business), Arts (Arts, media, and communications), Humanities (H) and Mathematics (M).  ARCS’ vision is to be an international leader in education, research and commercialization regarding increasingly autonomous (IA) systems.  In order to achieve its vision, ARCS will use a Convergence Research model to build a multidisciplinary STEAHM workforce prepared to have major and lasting societal impacts. ARCS faculty and staff will establish a culture of excellence that will enable student success. ARCS will substantially increase CSUN institutional research capacity by supporting scholarship across campus and fostering partnerships with federal agencies, industry, non-governmental organizations, other universities and colleges, and local businesses. And, through dissemination and commercialization of innovations, ARCS will contribute significantly to basic research and use-inspired problems in current and emerging globally relevant areas.

 

Another case in point is his leadership in reforming higher education in Vietnam.   Between 2008 and 2014, he served as CDIO Chief Advisor to the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh (VNU-HCM).  In this role and as a Fulbright Scholar, he led efforts in introducing the innovative curriculum reform model Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) in Vietnam, translating the CDIO book into Vietnamese, helping Vietnamese universities implement the model, and helping the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training develop strategic plans for its widespread implementation throughout Vietnam.  To date, over 50 programs at the VNV-HCM, and many other Vietnam’s universities have implemented CDIO to reform their curricula and have achieved high marks with international accreditation agencies, such as ABET and AUN-QA.  For these contributions, Dr. Ho was awarded the VNU-HCM Outstanding Contribution Award in 2012.  Since 2018, through the US Fulbright Specialist program, he has been serving as Senior Advisor to the President for Institutional Reform for Vinh University, a 38,000+ student university in Northern Central Vietnam.  In this role, he’s leading the strategic development and overseeing the implementation of strategic realignment and initiatives aiming to enable Vinh become a leader in teacher training education in Vietnam by reforming the entire university’s curricula using the CDIO approach.  Vinh University awarded Dr. Ho the Outstanding Contributions Award in 2018.

 

As a teacher, his leadership purpose is to transform the learning environment in ways that not only improve the engagement and retention of all students in STEM fields, with a special emphasis on minority and underserved students, but also help them achieve their full potentials.  At the Department level, he secured funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Army, and led the design and construction of a Student Design Center, which provides a modern and supportive learning community for hundreds of students each day.  He also led the reforming of the Department’s Design-STEM courses to allow underprepared students to take introductory and computer-aided design courses in freshman and sophomore years without math and physics prerequisites. At the College level, Dr. Ho served as the Founding Director of the Schaffer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, developed and implemented a funds raising campaign, built a network of internal and external stakeholders, and developed curriculum for institutionalization of entrepreneurship activities.  He is also a champion in engaging underserved and under-represented engineering and social science undergraduate students in research and in publications.  Many of his students, undergraduates who conduct research under his guidance, have been accepted into the best graduate programs and obtained top professional jobs.  For these accomplishments, Dr. Ho was recognized with the San Fernando Valley Engineers’ Council 2018 Distinguished Engineering Educator Award and 2007 Outstanding Achievement Merit Award.

 

As a researcher, his leadership purpose is to form and lead multi-disciplinary teams and conduct cutting edge research and use the scientific discovery as a means to make practical and substantial impact on people’s lives.  Two exemplars of this impact are: 1) an Air Force-sponsored field study that assessed trust and operational use of the F-16 Automated Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) among operational F-16 pilots, engineers, and Air Force leaders. The study identified a critical safety issue that directly led to a fleet-wide aircraft system modification.  Dr. Ho has published over 16 papers on this study, and he and his team were recognized with the 2018 Collier Trophy Award and the Journal of Ergonomics in Design The Most Outstanding Article in 2016; and 2) an FAA-sponsored research project that developed and implemented aircraft noise abatement procedures that reduce 50% of the noise intensity on the residential communities underneath the aircraft flight path.  For this work, he was awarded the FAA/NASA/Transport Canada-Sponsored Center of Excellence PARTNER – Joseph A. Hartman Award.  He also has pioneered Human Machine Teaming systems for NASA and other DoD organizations to conduct research on building effective partnership between human operators and automation for large, complex systems.  Currently the Air Force Office of Scientific Research is sponsoring his research to conduct simulation and field experiments to investigate how robotic learning affects trust in human-machine teaming between firefighters and robotic teammates consisting of an AI-based robot-leader and unmanned autonomous aerial and ground vehicles.

 

 

Appointments

 9/19-Present. Director. NASA Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (Science, Technology + engineering, Entrepreneurship, Arts, Humanities, and Mathematics)

12/18-Present.  Senior Advisor to the President for Institutional Reform, Vinh University in Vietnam.

7/18-8/18. Fulbright Specialist. U.S. Department of State.

8/13-Present. Professor. CSUN Department of Mechanical Engineering.

4/12-Present. Journal Editorial Board Member: Quality Assurance in Engineering & Education.

9/10-9/14.  CDIO Chief Advisor.  Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City.

8/09-8/13. Associate Professor. CSUN Department of Mechanical Engineering.

2/ 05-8/09. Assistant Professor. CSUN Department of Mechanical Engineering.

9/06-9/08. Founding Director. CSUN Schaeffer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

2/08-6/08. Fulbright Scholar.  J. William Fulbright Scholarship Program.

9/05-Present.  Director. System Engineering Research Laboratory.

6/05-9/05. Research Fellow. NASA Ames, Human Systems Integration Division.

9/ 02-12/02. Teaching Assistant. MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering.     

9/99-12/04. Research Assistant. MIT International Center for Air Transportation.

6/01-9/01. Research Engineer. NASA Ames Research Center, ATM Research Branch.                                 

6/99-9/99. Engineer. General Electric Aircraft Engines, Lynn, Massachusetts.

8/98-5/99. Research Assistant. MIT Adaptive Control Laboratory.

7/96-6/98. Graduate Research Fellow. Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, Massachusetts

 

Honors and Awards

 

  • Honorary Doctorate Degree, Vinh University, 9/2019
  • Fulbright Specialist, Project entitled, “CDIO-Approach to Teaching and Curriculum Development,” Vinh City, Vietnam, 8/2018.
  • Distinguished Contribution Award, Vinh University, 8/2018
  • San Fernando Valley Engineers’ Council Distinguished Engineering Educator Award, 2/2018.
  • Best Ergonomics in Design Article Award: The Most Outstanding Article in 2016 entitled, “Trust-Based Analysis of an Air Force Collision Avoidance System,” Ergonomics in Design, Vol. 24, Issue 1, 2016.
  • Best Session Award and Best Track Award for the research paper entitled, “Effects of Transparency on Pilot Trust and Agreement in the Autonomous Constrained Flight Planner,” Presented at the 35th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, Sacramento, CA, September 25 – 29, 2016.
  • Best Session Award and Best Track Award for the research paper entitled, “Design and Evaluation of NextGen Separation Assurance Concepts,” presented at the Digital Avionics Systems Conference of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Williamsburg, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2012.
  • Outstanding Contribution Award, Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City, 8/2012
  • Fulbright Scholar, Project entitled, “Benchmarking Vietnam’s IT/Engineering Curricula,” Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2/2008-6/2008.
  • San Fernando Valley Engineers’ Council Outstanding Achievement Merit Award, 2/2007.
  • FAA/NASA/Transport Canada-Sponsored Center of Excellence PARTNER – Joseph A. Hartman Award (First-Place), 8/2005
  • NASA Fellowship (administered by ASEE), 6/2005
  • Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Fellowship 1996-1998
  • Eyre Associates Award for top graduate in USC Mechanical Engineering Class, April 1996

 

Publications (Selected)

 

Sadler, G., Ho, N., Hoffmann, L., Zemlicka, K., Lyons, J., Fosher, K., “Assisting the Improvement of a Military Safety System: an Application of Rapid Assessment Procedures to the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System,” Human Organization Journal, Vol. 78, No. 3, 2019.

Lyons, J.B., Ho, N.T., Friedman, J., Alarcon, G.M., & Guznov, S.Y. (2018). Trust of Learning Systems: Considerations for Code, Algorithms, and Affordances for Learning. In F. Chen and J. Zhou (Eds.), Human and Machine Learning: Visible, Explainable, Trustworthy and Transparent. pp. 265-278. Springer.

 

Lyons, J., Ho, N., Hoffmann, L., Sadler, G., Van Abel, A., Wilkins, M., “Trust in Sensing Technologies and Human Wingmen: Analogies for Human-Machine Teams,” HCII 2018 Conference, July 15-20, 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

Lyons, J. B., Ho, N. T., Van Abel, A. L., Hoffmann, L. C., Fergueson, W. E., Sadler, G. G., Burns, A. C. (2017, July). Exploring trust barriers to future autonomy: a qualitative look. In International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (pp. 3-11). Springer, Cham.

 

Ho, N. T., Sadler, G. G., Hoffmann, L. C., Lyons, J. B., & Johnson, W. W. (2017). Trust of a military automated system in an operational context. Military Psychology, 29(6), 524-541.

Lyons, J., Ho, N., Van Abel, A., Hoffmann, L., Sadler, G., Fergueson, W., Grigsby, M., Wilkins, M.(2017), “Comparing Trust in Auto-GCAS Between Experienced and Novice Air Force Pilots,” Ergonomics in Design, Volume: 25 issue: 4, page(s): 4-9.

Ho, N., Johnson, W., Lachter, J., Brandt, S., Panesar, K., Wakeland, K., Sadler, G., Wilson, N., Nguyen, B., Shively, R., “Application of Human-Autonomy Teaming to an Advanced Ground Station for Reduced Crew Operations,” 36th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, September 17-21, 2017.

Friedman, J., Ho, N., Lyons, J., Chen, J., Gray, W., Bechara, S., Morales, K., Braud, K., Panesar, K., Johnson, W., “Effects of Robotic Learning and Cloud-Based Information on Trust in Human-Machine Teaming Contexts,” 8th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics, Los Angeles, California, July 17-21, 2017.

Lyons, J., Ho, N., Van Abel, A., Hoffmann, L., Fergueson, W., Sadler, G., Grigsby, M., Burns, A., “Exploring Trust Barriers to Future Autonomy: A Qualitative Look,” 8th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics, Los Angeles, California, July 17-21, 2017.

Ho, N., Sadler, G. G., Hoffmann, L. C., Zemlicka, K., Lyons, J., Fergueson, W., Wilkins, M. (2017). A Longitudinal Field Study of Auto-GCAS Acceptance and Trust: First-Year Results and Implications. Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 11(3), 239-251.

Sadler, G., Battiste, H., Ho, N., Hoffmann, L., Johnson, W., Shively, R.,& Smith, D. (2016, September). Effects of transparency on pilot trust and agreement in the autonomous constrained flight planner. In 2016 IEEE/AIAA 35th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC) (pp. 1-9). IEEE.

Lyons, J. B., Sadler, G. G., Koltai, K., Battiste, H., Ho, N. T., Hoffmann, L. C., Shively, R. (2017). Shaping trust through transparent design: theoretical and experimental guidelines. In Advances in Human Factors in Robots and Unmanned Systems (pp. 127-136). Springer, Cham.

Lyons, J. B., Ho, N. T., Fergueson, W. E., Sadler, G. G., Cals, S. D., Richardson, C. E., & Wilkins, M. A. (2016). Trust of an automatic ground collision avoidance technology: A fighter pilot perspective. Military Psychology, 28(4), 271-277.

Lyons, J. B., Ho, N. T., Koltai, K. S., Masequesmay, G., Skoog, M., Cacanindin, A., & Johnson, W. W. (2016). Trust-based analysis of an Air Force collision avoidance system. ergonomics in design, 24(1), 9-12.

Lyons, J. B., Koltai, K. S., Ho, N. T., Johnson, W. B., Smith, D. E., & Shively, R. J. (2016). Engineering trust in complex automated systems. ergonomics in design, 24(1), 13-17.

Ho, N., Koltai, K., Masequesmay, G., Cals, S., Sadler, G., Lyons, J., … & Skoog, M. (2015, August). An Ethnographic-Based Model for Trust Development in Auto-GCAS. In Proceedings of the American Psychological Associate Annual Convention, Toronto, ON, Canada (pp. 6-9).

Ho, N., Friedman, J., “Integrating Project And Risk Management Techniques Into An Introductory Engineering Course,” VNU-HCM CDIO Conference, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, December 2014.

Koltai, K., Ho, N., Masequesmay, G., Niedober, D., Skoog, M., Cacanindin, A., Johnson, W., & Lyons, J., “Influence of Cultural, Organizational, and Automation Capability on Human Automation Trust: A Case Study of Auto-GCAS Experimental Test Pilots.” International Conference on Human Computer Interaction in Aerospace, July 30 – August 1, 2014. Santa Clara, CA.

Niedober, D. J., Ho, N. T., Masequesmay, G., Koltai, K., Skoog, M., Cacanindin, A.,Lyons, J. B. (2014, June). Influence of cultural, organizational and automation factors on human-automation trust: A case study of Auto-GCAS engineers and developmental history. In International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (pp. 473-484). Springer, Cham.

Koltai, K., Ho, N., Masequesmay, G., Niedober, D., Skoog, M., Johnson, W., Lyons, J. (2014, April). An extended case study methodology for investigating influence of cultural, organizational, and automation factors on human-automation trust. In CHI’14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 885-888). ACM.

Ho, N., Johnson, W, Arutyunov, V., Laue, J-L, Wilmoth, I., “Design And Evaluation Of Nextgen Aircraft Separation Assurance Concepts,” 31st Digital Avionics Systems Conference, October 14-18, 2012, Williamsburg, Virginia.

LaMarr, M., Ho., N., Johnson, W., Battiste, V., Biviano, J., “Enhancing Pilot Ability to Perform Continuous Descent Approaches with Descriptive Waypoints,” 30th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, October 16-20, 2011, Seattle, Washington.

Ho, N., Martin, P., Johnson, W., Lachter, J., Dao, Battiste, V., A., Brandt, S., “Pilot Response to Off Nominal Conditions During Interval Management Operations,” 29th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, October 3-7, 2010, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Johnson, W., Ho, N., Martin, P., Vu, K-P., Ligda, S., Battiste, V., Lachter, J., Dao, A., “Management Of Continuous Descent Approaches During Interval Management Operations,” 29th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, October 3-7, 2010, Salt Lake City, Utah.

 

Dao, A., Lachter, J., Battiste, V., Brandt, S., Vu, K., Strybel, T., Ho, N., Martin, P., Johnson, W., “Automated Spacing Support Tools for Interval Management Operations during Continuous Descent Approaches,” Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 54th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, September 27-October 10, 2010.

 

Phan, B., Nguyen, N., Le, M., Ho, N., Doan, T., Tran, H., Vu, L., Nguyen, L., Le, B., “Development of a Model Framework for CDIO Implemention in Vietnam, ” 6th International CDIO Conference, June 15-18, 2010, ÉcolePolytechnique de Montréal, Québec, Canada.

 

Ryan, R., Ho, N., Bartenstein, S., “Development of an Assessment Plan for a New Sequence of Design Courses,” ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, AC 2010-1690, June 20-23, 2010, Louisville, KY.

 

Ho, N., “Benchmarking Vietnam’s IT/Engineering Program for Curriculum Design,” SEOMEO RETRAC International Conference on Branding in Higher Education, August 10-13, 2009, Nha Trang, Vietnam.

 

Ho, N., Martin, P., Bellissimo, J., Berson, B., “Information Requirements and Sharing for NGATS Function Allocation Concepts,” 13th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, San Diego, CA, 19-24 July 2009.

 

Ho, N., Ryan, R., “Creating a Sequence of Design-Courses to Improve Student Performance and Retention at a Minority Institution,” ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, June 14 -17, 2009, Austin, TX.

 

Ho, N., Zjhra, M., “Vietnam’s Transition to a Credit-Based System: Opportunities and Challenges (Part 1),” Institute for Educational Research 2nd Conference on Comparative Education: Vietnamese Education in the Globalization Context, May 23, 2008, Ho Chi Minh City Education University, Vietnam.

 

Zjhra, M., Ho, N., “Vietnam’s Transition to a Credit-Based System: Opportunities and Challenges (Part 2),” Institute for Educational Research 2nd Conference on Comparative Education: Vietnamese Education in the Globalization Context, May 23, 2008, Ho Chi Minh City Education University, Vietnam.

Martin, P., Ho, N. Berson, B.,“A Scenario-Based Study to Identify Pilot Information Requirements, Strategies, and Communication for NGATS Concepts,” Human Factors and NextGen Conference, Arlington TX, May 28-29, 2008.

Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., “A Methodology for Optimizing Parameters of Noise Abatement Approach Procedures,” AIAA Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 44, No. 4, July-August 2007.

Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., Riedel, R., Oman, C., “Cueing System for Near-Term Implementation of Aircraft Noise Abatement Approach Procedures,” AIAA Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 44, No. 3, May-June 2007.

Ho, N., “A CDIO Framework for Improving Learning and Retention in a Diverse Student Population,” ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference, University of Nevada, Reno, April 12-13, 2007.

Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., Riedel, R., Oman, C., “Pilot Ability and Strategies to Manage the Deceleration of Low-Noise Approaches as a Function of Feedback Information,” Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 50th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California, October 16-20, 2006.

Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., “Human Factors Aspects in the Implementation of Aircraft Noise Abatement Approach Procedures,” AIAA 6th Aviation, Technology, Integration, and Operations Conference (ATIO), September 25-27, 2006, Wichita, Kansas.

Ho, N., “Development and Evaluation of a Sophomore Design Course Infused with CDIO Skills,” Second Annual International CDIO Conference and Collaborators’ Meeting, Linköping University, Sweden, 12-15 June 2006.

Ryan, R., Ho, N., “A Sophomore Design Course Sequence for Mechanical Engineering Students,” ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, April 20-21, 2006.

Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., Riedel, R., Oman, C., “Development and Evaluation of a Pilot Cueing System for Near-Term Implementation of Aircraft Noise Abatement Approach Procedures,” AIAA 5th Aviation, Technology, Integration, and Operations Conference (ATIO), September 26-28, 2005, Arlington, VA.

Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., “A Methodology for Optimizing Parameters of Noise Abatement Approach Procedures,” AIAA 5th Aviation, Technology, Integration, and Operations Conference (ATIO), September 26-28, 2005, Arlington, VA.

Clarke, J-P., Ho, N., Ren, L., Brown, A., Elmer, K., Tong, K-O., Watt, J., “Continuous Descent Approach: Design and Flight Test for Louisville Publications International Airport,” AIAA Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 41, No. 5, September-October 2004.

Ren, L., Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., “Workstation Based Fast-Time Aircraft Simulator for Noise Abatement Approach Procedure Study,” AIAA 4th Aviation Technology, Integration and Operations (ATIO) Forum, Chicago, Illinois, September 20-22, 2004, AIAA-2004-6503.

Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., “A Parametric Study to Determine Robust Open-loop Advanced Noise Abatement Procedure,” The 32nd International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering, August 25-28, 2003, International Convention Center Jeju, Seogwipo, Korea.

Ren, L., Clarke, J-P., Ho, N., “Achieving Low Noise Without Sacrificing Capacity,” The 22 Digital Avionics Systems Conference, October 12-16, 2003, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Gershzohn, G., Watt, J., Dwyer, J., Elmer, K., Clarke, J-P., Ho, N.,  “Advanced Noise Abatement Procedure: An Experimental Study of Flight Operational Acceptability,” AIAA’s Aircraft Technology, Integration, and Operation (ATIO) 2002 Technical Forum, AIAA 2002-5867.

Elmer, K., Wat, J., Gershzohn, G., Shivashankara, B., Clarke, J-P., Ho, N., Tobias, L., “A Study of Noise Abatement Procedures Using Ames B747-400 Flight Simulator,” 8th AIAA/CEAS Aeroacoutics Conference and Exhibit, AIAA 2002-2540.

Ho, N., Clarke, J-P., ” Mitigating the Impact of Aircraft Noise by Leveraging on Automation,” Proceedings of the AIAA Integration, Technology, Information, and Operation Forum, November 16-18, 2001, Los Angeles Convention Center, California.

Annaswamy, A., Ho, N., Kojic, A., “A Convergent Frequency Estimator,” Proceedings of the American Control Conference, 2000, Volume 4, pg. 2235-2239.

Ho, N., Lozano, P., Mangoubi, R., Martinez-Sanchez, M., “A Model-Based Vehicle Health Monitoring System for the Space Shuttle Main Engine,” AIAA-98-3609, 34th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit, July 12-15, 1998, Cleveland, OH.

Ho, N., Lozano, P., Mangoubi, R., Martinez-Sanchez, M., “Failure Detection and Isolation for the Space Shuttle Main Engine,” presented at the 33rd AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit, July 6-9, 1997, Seattle WA.

 

Publications (In-Progress)

Hoffmann, L., Van Abel, A., Ho, N., Sadler, G., Lyons, J., Fergueson, W., Grigsby, M., Wilkins, M., “Technology Acceptance Recommendations from a Transtheoretical Model of Change: Analysis of the Air-Force F-16 Auto-GCAS,” Submitted to the International Journal of Aerospace Psychology.

Ho, N., Lyons, J., Hoffmann, L., Sadler, G., Van Abel, A., Fergueson, W., Grigsby, M., Wilkins, M., Webb, C., Marschik, D., Allamandola, K., Cacanindin, A., “LIS AGCAS From Testing to Early Field Implementation: Pilot Perceptions and Trust Implications,” In Preparation.

Martin, P., Ho, N., Johnson, W., “Pilot Ability To Detect Conflicts In The Presense Of Articulated Trajectories,” Preparing for submission to the Journal of Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors.

Terceman, J., Ho, N., Johnson, W., “Effects Of Feedback Delay On The Next Generation Route Assessment Tool,” Preparing for submission to the Journal of Aviation Psychology and Applied Human Factors.

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Hacking on the Rise Throughout NASA Networks

Stacy Conner

Hacking incidents at NASA rose by 366% in 2019 after a $3.1 million decrease in NASA’s cyber security budget.
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NASA Cyber Security Incidents Rise Post Budget Cuts

According to a recent article published by Forbes, cyber security incidents at NASA rose by 366% in 2019, according to a report from the Office of Management and Budget, and analyzed by AtlasVPN. This all comes after a $3.1 million decrease in NASA’s cyber security budget from 2018.

There was a 638% rise in “Improper Usage” incidents. These accounted for almost 91% of the overall increase.  This is even more alarming after 2018’s very public hacking at JPL, when an authorized Raspberry Pi was connected to their servers and became an entry point for hackers to access to NASA’s Deep Space Network array of radio telescopes.

I spoke with Jim Adams, former Deputy Chief Technologist for Kennedy Space Center and 30 year NASA veteran for a bit more insight. 

He said when if comes to cutting cyber security budgets for any federal department it’s like “Opening a new bank and only using half of the (security) guards.” (JA)

Hackers will come up with “ever more creative ways to gain access to NASA’s system.” (JA) So OMB and Congress need to increase cyber security budgets so that they can stay ahead of the threats.’

“Lack of vigilance is a real risk,” (JA) and assuring personnel do not become complacent is vital to decreasing ‘improper usage.’ While at the same time the sprawl of NASA’s infrastructure is so large, that itself can contribute to the problem, as certain equipment becomes a liability before it can be replaced. 

Assuring a robust cyber security budget would help combat even these physical problems.

But Adams warns it is not just NASA’s cyber security the public should be alarmed about. “All agencies are at risk.” (JA)  Problems in one agency’s cyber security can be the canary in the coalmine for the entire system.  

According to a 2012 Inspector General’s report, NASA’s “connectivity with outside organizations… such as educational institutions and research facilities – presents cybercriminals with a larger target than that of many other Governmental agencies.” 

And a 2018 IG report pointed to how the agency’s reliance on the Global Supply chain can “pose a significant risk as foreign-developed or manufactured technology may be counterfeit or compromised” which could unsuspectingly install malware used to steal precious IP and deliver it to our competitors. Or it could be used to access the accounts of some of the most privilege users thus giving hackers access to most of NASA’s network.  

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Space Force launches new weapon: MEADOWLAND

Stacy Conner

A next generation weapon using open architecture software systems to constantly upgrade as new satellites and frequencies come online.
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Stacy Conner

As the weaponization of space accelerates, the U.S. Space Force has begun rolling out an arsenal of ground-based weapons, designed to jam Russian or Chinese communication satellites in the opening hours of a conflict – without any kinetic engagement or producing space junk. 

This is a public departure from the Space Force defensive posture, to an offensive one. 

Known, “Meadowland” the device is a next generation weapon using open architecture software systems to constantly upgrade as new satellites and frequencies come online. 

Supporters for a weapons-free space believe Meadowland can be viewed by other nations as inflammatory and lead to an escalation in the targeting of space assets. But this isn’t just about the Military, it’s also a commercial issue.

Whoever wins the next space race will have the strategic and economic advantage not for decades, but generations” – Micah Walter-Range of Caelus Partners

According to Space Force officials, Russia’s test launch of an anti-satellite missile on April 15th is (quote) “Further proof of Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer-space-arms-control proposals designed to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting their counter-space weapons programs.”

And it’s not just Russia. India has already shot down a satellite, France is arming them and China has already launched an observation array that can identify a face…from space. 

So which is better? A good offense? Defense, or both? 

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Coronavirus on the ISS

Stacy Conner

No, it’s not the title of the latest apocalyptic space movie. There are real fears that COVID-19 may have hitched a ride on the latest flight from Earth to the International Space Station.
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There are real fears that COVID-19 may have hitched a ride on the latest flight from Earth to the International Space Station.

Evgeniy Mikrin, head of Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, tested positive for the virus just days after he attended the launch of the Soyuz MS-16 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Southern Kazakhstan.

Mikrin shared a three-hour flight with the head Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin. The two also sat together in a meeting room separated by glass from the two Russian Cosmonauts and one American Astronaut, shortly before blast off.

Mikrin did not have close contact with the crew, but Rogozin did.  Rogozin was seen breaking social distancing guidelines and standing close to all three crew members aboard the rocket and during a farewell ceremony. All of them were not wearing face coverings.  In some pictures, social distancing was observed, but face-coverings were not.

Mikrin is asymptomatic and in quarantine at home. He is one of thirty Russian space personnel who have tested positive for COVID-19.  It is uncertain whether Rogozin has tested positive for the virus.

In just a few weeks, a life form we cannot see, touch or smell has already covered the planet and possibly gone to space.

Our newsroom is following this closely, so check back daily as events unfold.

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A career in the Final Frontier

Stacy Conner

2020 is promising to be another record year for job growth is the space industry and we have your connection to thousands of jobs through our partnership with the Space Talent Network.
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Stacy Conner

As we’ve been reporting, 2020 is promising to be another record year for job growth is the space industry and we have your connection to thousands of jobs through our partnership with the Space Talent Network. Just click on the jobs link on our site and search by job functions, location or by company.  More importantly, it’s not just engineering jobs…..although those are truly in demand…..there are openings in operations, IT, marketing and communications, Human Resources and much more!. Check in regularly as the jobs are constantly updated. 

There’s a Universe of opportunity.  So don’t hesitate to take one giant leap for your career .

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Above Area 51

Stacy Conner

In a daring maneuver, Private Pilot Gabriel Zeifman charts a course over one of the most top secret military installations, in the world.
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Stacy Conner

In a daring maneuver, Private Pilot Gabriel Zeifman charts a course over one of the most top secret military installations, in the world. 

No direct photos of the area are known to exist, until now

Pictured below is the Nevada Test and Training Range, which includes Area 51 and Nevada Test site where hundreds of nuclear weapons were tested. 

Gabriel’s unprecedented aerial account provides a unique perspective of the world’s conspiracy epicenter. 

Good flying, Gabriel. 

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SETI is Expanding!

Stacy Conner

NASA is expanding their search for extraterrestrial life with an a wave of upcoming SETI initiatives in the most sensitive, comprehensive and intensive searches for advanced life ever attempted.
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Stacy Conner

NASA is expanding their search for extraterrestrial life with an a wave of upcoming SETI initiatives in the most sensitive, comprehensive and intensive searches for advanced life ever attempted.

SETI has partnered with the Breakthrough Listen project, funded by billionaire Yuri Milner to scan thousands of stars for brief dips in light that happen when planets transit their host, allowing us to obtain detailed information through ‘light curves,’ expanding the number of target planets that could be host life.

In a related effort, SETI and the VLA (Very Large Array) are teaming up to sweep the entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life for the first time, using 28 giant radio telescopes in an unprecedented hunt for intelligent civilizations.

Among the most promising systems is Trappist-1, with three Earth sized planets orbiting a cool dim star with atmospheres temperate enough for liquid water to be present on the surface.

The James Webb Telescope will also join the effort and tell us whether these planets have atmospheres like the Earth or Venus, in our first real chance to search for gases given off by life on another planet. We’re basically going to get to study Earth’s cousins, (said Meadows.)

“We’re looking forward to working together as we try to answer one of the most profound questions about our place in the Universe: Are we alone?”

As the latest technology advances bring scientists closer to answering this question, there’s still a few things to work out if we do contact ET.

Stephen Hawking was openly against the the idea, suggesting the outcome for humans would not necessarily be good.

Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley SETI centre disagrees, stating – “Personally I think we absolutely should and I think without a doubt, we would. Part of being human is wanting to reach out into the unknown and make connections.”

He is less decisive about what Earth’s message should be, however. “I don’t know … I spend absolutely zero time thinking about that,” he said. “I guess I would just say, ‘Hello’.”

What would you say if you met an alien?

Leave a comment and Let us know…

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US Space Force establishes, SPOC

Stacy Conner

The 14th Air Force unit is being transferred to the space force under, Space Operations Command, or SPOC to provide space capabilities such as space domain awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, navigation warfare, command and control, and positioning, navigation and timing, on behalf of the US Space Force, Space Com and other combatant commands.
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Stacy Conner

The 14th Air Force unit is being transferred to the space force under, Space Operations Command, or SPOC to provide space capabilities such as space domain awareness, space electronic warfare, satellite communications, missile warning, nuclear detonation detection, environmental monitoring, military intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, navigation warfare, command and control, and positioning, navigation and timing, on behalf of the US Space Force, Space Com and other combatant commands.

“With SPOC deployed, the redesigned logo makes more sense.”

Many have criticized the design for its similarity to Starfleet Command, but to be fair, The Space Force emblem hasn’t really changed since the 80’s. What do you think? The logos are below…

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How mobile games are saving astronauts

Stacy Conner

Millions of miles from a hospital, with a terminal illness. Working this problem has created a truly unique interdisciplinary solution that could pave the way for a revolution in medicine.
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Stacy Conner

One of the benefits of space exploration is how it brings so many unique industries together to solve some of our biggest challenges.

In an effort to keep humans healthy on the way to Mars, with little to no support from Earth, the Translational Research Institute for Space Health, is developing a radical new approach to healthcare in an effort to solve one of microgravity’s most painful side effects:

Kidney Stones.

A diagnosis that usually requires surgery, and there’s no ER in space. At least not yet…that’s a hint NBC. Low gravity environments cause a reduction in bone mass and muscle tissue, pushing excess calcium to the kidneys, resulting in extremely painful stones passing through the urinary tract. This alone could halt our progress to the inner planets.

Fourteen ISS crew  members have developed the syndrome in the last 5 years, and with longer missions on the horizon – solving this is a priority – and gaming is the answer.

At the intersection of medicine and entertainment, Level Ex is paving the way for the future of health care in far away environments. “On the way to Mars it’s likely there’ll be a physician on board but Murphy’s Law says it’s going to be the doctor who gets sick,” said Dorit Donoviel.