It’s been a busy week for NASA, with early Monday morning seeing the docking of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus N-G15 resupply mission spacecraft to the ISS, which includes thousands of pounds of food and science experiments, including a joint HPE/Microsoft collaboration to bring advanced computing power and AI to the station with the Spaceborne Computer-2.
Thursday was the historic landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars which made a touchdown after a 203-day journey.
The Saturday afternoon weekend launch of the resupply mission from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia, deployed solar arrays several hours into its journey to help power the Cygnus en-route to the ISS, with the craft arriving Monday at approximately 4:38 a.m. (EST.)
On Monday early morning, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi used the space station’s robotic arm to capture Cygnus upon its arrival, while NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins monitored telemetry during the rendezvous, capture and installation of the Unity module’s Earth-facing port, according to press statement from NASA.
This is Northrop Grumman’s 15th cargo flight to the space station and is the fourth under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA. Cygnus launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
The lead NASA flight director for the mission, Adi Boulos, said in a statement, “I am humbled to be the International Space Station Flight Director for the Northrup Grumman CRS-15 mission. This spacecraft has the honor of being named the S.S. Katherine Johnson. As a Black woman, Katherine Johnson shattered race and gender barriers to live out her dreams and become a pivotal part of this country’s young space program.”
Johnson was a pioneering member of the U.S. space program, both as an early member, and as one of the first African American women to join what was to become NASA.
“Fifty-nine years ago, today, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth after personally asking for Katherine Johnson to verify his Mercury missions’ orbital trajectory calculations,” Boulos added. “Katherine Johnson was an asset to our space program, and I am honored to work for a mission that expands her legacy even further.”
The resupply flight will support dozens of new and existing investigations. A partial list of the scientific investigations Cygnus is delivering to the space station includes:
High-performance computing aboard the space station
Improved high-performance computing will be required for space missions as humans prepare for additional exploration throughout the solar system. Currently, computing capabilities in space are reduced compared to capabilities on the ground because they prioritize reliability over performance, creating challenges when transmitting data to and from space.
Launched in 2017, the Spaceborne computer study ran a high-performance commercial off-the-shelf computer system in space, successfully performing more than 1 trillion calculations (or one teraflop) per second for 207 days without requiring reset.
The NG-15 mission includes Spaceborne Computer-2 which will explore how commercial off-the-shelf computer systems can advance space exploration by reliably processing data significantly faster in space, speeding scientists’ time to data access and analysis from months to minutes.
After installation, researchers will test Microsoft’s Azure cloud system not only for intensive processing to save the ISS crew time in function, but to also test artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities as part of the system. The Spaceborne Computer is based on HPE’s Edgeline Converged Edge system.
Microsoft and SpaceX are also working together on the Azure Space project, with Microsoft planning on accessing the growing Starlink satellite constellation for joint testing at the ground based Azure Modular Datacenter.
I dream of space
The ESA (European Space Agency) Dreams experiment will take a closer look at astronaut sleep. The investigation serves as a technology demonstration of the Dry-EEG Headband in microgravity, while also monitoring astronaut sleep quality during a long-duration flight mission.
Raw data will be available to scientists for their analysis, while the crew also can input direct feedback on their sleep with a tablet application. “Sleep is central to human health, so a better understanding of sleep in provides a more comprehensive understanding of human health in microgravity,” NASA’s statement said.
Prepping for the Moon
The International Space Station serves as a testing ground for technologies planned for use on future missions to the Moon. The A-HoSS investigation puts tools for the crewed Artemis II mission to the test.
Built as the primary radiation detection system for the Orion spacecraft, the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor (HERA) was modified for operation on the space station. By verifying that HERA can operate without error for 30 days, it validates the system for crewed Artemis mission operations.
“These are just a subset of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration approach, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program,” NASA’s statement said.
The Cygnus spacecraft will remain at the space station until May before it disposes of several thousand pounds of trash through its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
Autodesk announces executive leadership team hires
Autodesk, the CAD/CAM software titan, announced Thursday the hiring of Debbie Clifford as chief financial officer and Raji Arasu as chief technology officer.
The corporation makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, life science and entertainment industry sectors, and has been an industry leader for decades.
“We are thrilled to welcome both Debbie and Raji – two dynamic and accomplished executives – to Autodesk,” said Andrew Anagnost, CEO, and president of Autodesk.
“Debbie and Raji bring deep leadership experience and a passion for customer success,” he added. “Their addition to our executive leadership team – along with Diana Colella, who was recently appointed to lead our Media & Entertainment group – will inject fresh perspectives into our company and towards our goal of delivering the world’s leading design and make platform.”
Clifford, who currently serves as chief financial officer at SurveyMonkey, returns to Autodesk – where she spent 13 years in various financial leadership roles – and brings with her expanded financial, strategic, and operational experience. She will oversee all aspects of Autodesk’s finance, accounting, tax, treasury, operations, and investor relations teams.
Clifford serves on the board of Harmonic, a video technology and services company, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“Accepting the CFO position at Autodesk is like coming home,” said Clifford. “I’m excited to reconnect with the exceptionally talented finance organization and help accelerate the next phase of Autodesk’s growth. I am thrilled to be back and can’t wait to get started.”
Arasu will join Autodesk from Intuit, where she serves as senior vice president of platform engineering. She will oversee and be responsible for Autodesk’s technology strategy and ensure alignment against long-term innovation priorities and short-term technology imperatives. Arasu will replace current Autodesk CTO Scott Borduin, who announced his intent to retire last year.
Raji Arasu is a technology executive with over 25 years of experience focused primarily on eCommerce, marketplaces, payments, and fintech systems. She specializes in leading through transformative change across people, product, platform, and process to accelerate customer benefits and revenue growth.
At Intuit, Arasu helped shape the platform strategy and technology culture, led its cloud journey and expanded foundational core capabilities that amplified the pace of innovation for Intuit’s customers. Prior to Intuit, Arasu served as Chief Technology Officer for StubHub and held leadership roles at eBay.
Arasu has received public recognition for technology leadership, promoting diversity, and mentoring women to be successful leaders in technology. She serves on the board of directors for NIC Inc. and MediaAlpha Inc.
“Autodesk has long been one of the world’s most innovative companies and I’m thrilled for the challenge and opportunity to lead a world-class team of technologists,” said Arasu. “It’s an exciting time to join the company as we seek to deliver solutions that enable our customers to make an impact and achieve better outcomes for their products, their businesses, and the world.”
Autodesk makes software for people who make things. Ranging from driving a high-performance car, working in a towering skyscraper, using a smartphone, or making a blockbuster film, the company may well have played a role in the design.
AI-enhanced measurements company acquired by MindMed
MindMed, an innovative psychedelic drug developer, has bought HealthMode, a machine-learning digital medicine company.
MindMed, the psychedelic medicine biotech company, announced in a release that it closed its acquisition of HealthMode, a digital medicine and therapeutics startup that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled digital measurement to increase the precision and speed of clinical research and patient monitoring.
The combination of these two companies will foster advancement and development of the growing area of psychedelic medicine for psychiatric uses in post-trauma, addiction treatment and a variety of other mental illness problems.
“The HealthMode acquisition marks the start of MindMed 2.0 as we seek to not only build a drug development company for psychedelic medicines, but also a comprehensive mental health technology platform to one day potentially launch these transformative medicines to patients in a scalable manner,” MindMed co-founder and CEO J.R. Rahn said in a statement.
The acquisition will help build a full stack digital mental health platform for psychedelic medicines; Ex-Pfizer Digital Medicine Executive Dr. Daniel R. Karlin and former Google AI/ML industry veteran Bradford Cross added to MindMed executive team, the companies said in a joint release.
MindMed discovers, develops, and deploys psychedelic inspired medicines and therapies to address addiction and mental illness. The company is assembling a compelling drug development pipeline of innovative treatments based on psychedelic substances including Psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, DMT and an Ibogaine derivative, 18-MC.
The MindMed executive team brings extensive biopharmaceutical experience to the company’s groundbreaking approach to developing the next generation of psychedelic inspired medicines and therapies.
HealthMode drives progression to next-generation clinical trials by developing and delivering AI-enhanced measurement methods for clinical trials. Its client partners represent a diverse set of stakeholders, from clinical researchers and drug developers at large pharmaceutical companies to academic medical centers, to startups entering the space.
The company’s AI-enhanced measurement techniques improve understanding of phenotype; streamline and provide assurance for screening and eligibility; provide early detection and mitigation of adverse events; and serve as sensitive, specific, objective, and low participant burden efficacy endpoints.
These measurements allow for meaningful integration of clinical trial data with real-world evidence and provide the basis for movement toward patient-specific measures.
Better measurement tools and the platforms to support them help HealthMode’s partners make data informed decisions, reduce uncertainty around enrollment and outcomes, de-risk development, and increase the speed at which novel therapeutics reach patients in need, according to HealthMode.
Longest distance phone call between ISS astronaut and VP Kamala Harris
It was last week’s longest distance phone call, with International Space Station Astronaut Victor Glover welcoming VP Kamal Harris for a virtual chat in honor of U.S. Black History Month.
In the video recorded Feb. 24 and shared by NASA on Saturday Feb. 28, the long-distance phone call ranged from the legacy of human spaceflight to observing Earth from the vantage of the space station, Glover’s history-making stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, and preparing for missions from the Moon to Mars, according to a press statement from NASA.
Victor Glover is a long-duration crew member on the International Space Station. He served as the Crew Dragon pilot and second-in-command for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission. Glover is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance.
Glover is a multitalented astronaut, holding several degrees and having served as military aviator after his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy.
Selected as an astronaut in 2013, the California native holds a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering from California Polytechnic State University, a Master of Science degree in flight test engineering and a master’s degree military operational art and science from Air University, and a Master of Science degree in systems engineering from Naval Postgraduate School.
Glover is a naval aviator and was a test pilot in the F/A‐18 Hornet, Super Hornet, and EA‐18G Growler aircraft.
For more than 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge, and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth, NASA said.
As a global endeavor, 242 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.
The ISS remains the springboard to America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, including Artemis missions to the Moon to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
Its main links to earth for crew delivery is the SpaceX Dragon and the Russian Soyuz rocket. Also, frequent robot craft arrive with food, science experiments and technology upgrades.
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