NASA’s Voyager Spacecraft Still Reaching for the Stars After 40 Years

Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September. Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier.
Their story has not only impacted generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth’s culture, including film, art and music. Each spacecraft carries a Golden Record of Earth sounds, pictures and messages. Since the spacecraft could last billions of years, these circular time capsules could one day be the only traces of human civilization.

“I believe that few missions can ever match the achievements of the Voyager spacecraft during their four decades of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters. “They have educated us to the unknown wonders of the universe and truly inspired humanity to continue to explore our solar system and beyond.”

The Voyagers have set numerous records in their unparalleled journeys. In 2012, Voyager 1, which launched on Sept. 5, 1977, became the only spacecraft to have entered interstellar space. Voyager 2, launched on Aug. 20, 1977, is the only spacecraft to have flown by all four outer planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Their numerous planetary encounters include discovering the first active volcanoes beyond Earth, on Jupiter’s moon Io; hints of a subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa; the most Earth-like atmosphere in the solar system, on Saturn’s moon Titan; the jumbled-up, icy moon Miranda at Uranus; and icy-cold geysers on Neptune’s moon Triton.

Though the spacecraft have left the planets far behind — and neither will come remotely close to another star for 40,000 years — the two probes still send back observations about conditions where our Sun’s influence diminishes and interstellar space begins.

Voyager 1, now almost 13 billion miles from Earth, travels through interstellar space northward out of the plane of the planets. The probe has informed researchers that cosmic rays, atomic nuclei accelerated to nearly the speed of light, are as much as four times more abundant in interstellar space than in the vicinity of Earth. This means the heliosphere, the bubble-like volume containing our solar system’s planets and solar wind, effectively acts as a radiation shield for the planets. Voyager 1 also hinted that the magnetic field of the local interstellar medium is wrapped around the heliosphere.

Voyager 2, now almost 11 billion miles from Earth, travels south and is expected to enter interstellar space in the next few years. The different locations of the two Voyagers allow scientists to compare right now two regions of space where the heliosphere interacts with the surrounding interstellar medium using instruments that measure charged particles, magnetic fields, low-frequency radio waves and solar wind plasma. Once Voyager 2 crosses into the interstellar medium, they will also be able to sample the medium from two different locations simultaneously.

“None of us knew, when we launched 40 years ago, that anything would still be working, and continuing on this pioneering journey,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at Caltech in Pasadena, California. “The most exciting thing they find in the next five years is likely to be something that we didn’t know was out there to be discovered.”

The twin Voyagers have been cosmic overachievers, thanks to the foresight of mission designers. By preparing for the radiation environment at Jupiter, the harshest of all planets in our solar system, the spacecraft were well equipped for their subsequent journeys. Both Voyagers carry redundant systems that allow the spacecraft to switch to backup systems autonomously when necessary, as well as long-lasting power supplies. Each Voyager has three radioisotope thermoelectric generators, devices that use the heat energy generated from the decay of plutonium-238 — only half of it will be gone after 88 years.

Space is almost empty, so the Voyagers are not at a significant level of risk of bombardment by large objects. However, Voyager 1’s interstellar space environment is not a complete void. It’s filled with clouds of dilute material remaining from stars that exploded as supernovae millions of years ago. This material doesn’t pose a danger to the spacecraft, but is a key part of the environment that the Voyager mission is helping scientists study and characterize.

Because the Voyagers’ power decreases by four watts per year, engineers are learning how to operate the spacecraft under ever-tighter power constraints. And to maximize the Voyagers’ lifespans, they also have to consult documents written decade’s earlier describing commands and software, in addition to the expertise of former Voyager engineers.

“The technology is many generations old, and it takes someone with 1970s design experience to understand how the spacecraft operate and what updates can be made to permit them to continue operating today and into the future,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Team members estimate they will have to turn off the last science instrument by 2030. However, even after the spacecraft go silent, they’ll continue on their trajectories at their present speed of more than 30,000 mph (48,280 kilometers per hour), completing an orbit within the Milky Way every 225 million years.

The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. The Voyager missions are part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate.

Source: NASA

DuPont Celebrates Diversity & Inclusion, Commits to Further Action

With 46,000 employees operating in 90 countries worldwide, DuPont understands that to thrive we must not only cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace that attracts the best talent but also ensure that our people intimately understand the needs of a global customer base. Respect for People – one of our four Core Values – is the signpost that guides our efforts. We believe it translates to competitive advantage by fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce with equally diverse insight into customer needs. “Diversity and inclusion is not a ‘nice to have’ feature in an organization,” says Marc Doyle, an executive vice president at DuPont. “It is absolutely critical in healthy, high-performing organizations with a future focus.”

Building on a long legacy of promoting diversity and inclusion not only within our employee ranks but also in our communities, DuPont recently received recognition for its efforts and – led by DuPont Chair & CEO Ed Breen – committed to further action.

Catalyst CEO Champion for Change: DuPont CEO Ed Breen recently joined with more than 40 other global business leaders in pledging to continue driving and reporting measurable results in the advancement of gender equality. Catalyst – a global thought leader and partner in accelerating the progress of women at work for more than 50 years – developed the Champions of Change effort.

“As leaders, we must hold ourselves and our teams accountable to make this change happen,” Ed noted in signing the Catalyst pledge. “DuPont,” he added, “can succeed by working together to build a more inclusive workplace culture, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do.”

As a Catalyst CEO Champion of Change, Ed committed to:

•Strengthening the diversity and inclusion metrics, policies and practices across DuPont;
•Reviewing and improving the pipeline of women of diverse backgrounds for advancement and empowering them with a strong support system; and
•Identifying and working to reduce any structural barriers or unconscious bias that may exist in our businesses and functions and doing more to continue to build an inclusive workplace culture at DuPont locations across the globe.

With founding member companies involved in the Catalyst CEO Champions for Change initiative representing more than 8.7 million employees, the positive ripple effect from this commitment by Ed and the other business leaders is expected to help to go a long way in building work environments where everyone has a fair chance to succeed.

Executive Leadership Council Fortune 500 CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™: On June 12, 2017, The Executive Leadership Council launched the F500 (Fortune 500) CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™ pledgesigned by more than 100 CEOs, including DuPont CEO Ed Breen. The pledge is largest CEO-driven business commitment to date in advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Through this show of support, Ed and his fellow corporate CEOs have committed to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace by:

•Continuing to make the workplace a trusting and safe place to have complex and sometimes difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion.
•Implementing and expanding unconscious bias education.
•Openly sharing best practices and learnings among companies on what is and is not working to improve diversity and inclusion.

By implementing these three actions, CEOs, in partnership with The Executive Leadership Council (ELC), will build a more diverse and inclusive workplace. This commitment is driven by a realization that addressing diversity and inclusion is not a competitive issue, but a societal issue that CEOs can play a critical role in addressing. The pledge is meant to be the first step in leveraging the collective power of the business community to advance such an important issue.

US Business Leadership Network® Going for Gold Project: In 2017, DuPont signed on to be part of the USBLN Going for Gold Project. Joining this initiative will provide DuPont with access to subject matter experts and programs to strengthen our disability inclusion initiatives. The access to leading practices and tools will enable DuPont to enhance our existing programs in this important area.

Top Score on Disability Equality Index: The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN). It was developed by a diverse group of experts to assess companies on their disability inclusion policies and practices. Companies submit responses on several categories, including: Culture & Leadership, Enterprise–Wide Access, Employment Practices, and Community Engagement & Support Services. In 2016, DuPont received a ‘100’, the highest possible score companies can receive on the index.

DuPont’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is both a Core Value and business strategy for our company. The value of a diverse and inclusive workplace can be seen in every aspect of our business, including talent development and recruitment, customer orientation, corporate strategy, and even our innovation processes. In addition to the new commitments described above, DuPont continues to be recognized as a leading company for its diversity and inclusion commitments. In 2017, DuPont was named to DiversityInc’s “Top Companies for Global Diversity”. We were also named to Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies for the 27th year; to the National Association of Female Executives “Top Companies for Executive Women” for the 9th consecutive year (and 13th in total), and; earned a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and earning placement on the Index for the 10th time.

“DuPont strives to embed diversity and inclusion into its business in many ways,” says Benito Cachinero- Sánchez, DuPont Senior Vice President of Human Resources. “We have a Global D&I Leadership Council made up of senior leaders (doing other important roles in the company) who can reinforce D&I at the strategic level across our organizations. In addition, we develop education for employees and leaders, and regularly communicate our commitment to D&I through employee stories and examples. We set goals and objectives and monitor our progress. But, just like our R&D teams, we’re always looking for new ways to innovate — better ways to understand our people and enabling them to flourish.”

To learn more about DuPont’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, please visit: http://www.dupont.com/corporate-functions/careers/why-dupont/articles/diversity.html

Credit: DuPont

Cisco Distinguished Quality Engineer Alka Jarvis shares why passion and persistence has gotten her to where she is today.

Alka Jarvis needed to make sure this interview happened.

We had scheduled several meet-ups before this chat, and for some reason or another— either an absence of Wi-Fi, unexpected meetings—something had always come up.

“I got up today and I thought, I must make sure I attend this meeting,” Jarvis tells me during our interview, “At any expense.”

It’s this kind of tenacity that finally brought us to our chat—the same tenacity that has sparked fire to Jarvis’ career throughout her time as an engineer.

“Why don’t you do something about it?”

Jarvis, who was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, is of Indian ancestry. She says that culturally, she grew up in Kenya under a lot of British influence. The engineer—who is now known as Cisco’s only Distinguished Quality Engineer–first entered the world of quality in a fateful job on a sales team of a small company.

“I accompanied the sales teams as they did demos,” says Jarvis, “The sales person would try to show customers certain files but the files weren’t there. With my experience in computer science and software development, I continued to raise concerns: It was a small company and I was the only one saying that our software doesn’t work. One time I was finally challenged by the senior VP of operations, ‘Why don’t you do something about it?'”

It was that one challenge that got Jarvis on her path towards quality assurance.

“I went to Golden Gate University Library and learned everything I could about software testing and quality assurance,” says Jarvis. At that time she also co-founded Bay Area Quality Assurance Association by contacting companies through the Yellow Pages to discuss the field of software quality and processes. 

Software quality assurance, Jarvis tells me, is making sure that all of the products and services work according to the customer requirements and exceed their expectations.

Learning to teach

In her in-depth studies of quality assurance, Jarvis started looking at the UC Berkeley-Extension curriculum in software engineering. She found out that all of the classes taught programming but none were actually about quality and testing.  After approaching one of the Directors at UC Berkeley, the school asked her to develop and teach a class.

After 21 years, Jarvis is still manning teaching podiums and teaching quality at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz-Extension, Santa Clara University, and has published seven books. 

“This is where Cisco shows industry leadership,” says Jarvis, “When an employee teaches or participates in industry events—it shows Cisco as the leader. This type of industry participation makes students and people more aware of Cisco and of the talents we have within the company.”

Quality work

Persistence, Jarvis stresses, is what got her to this point in her work. She encourages others also to take an active pursuit of their interests in life and career.

“If you have a passion for any topic within Cisco, take it upon yourself and go after it,” says Jarvis, “You are the master of your career. It might just seem like a very small thing right now that you’re involved in. I was only on the sales team to watch demos, but I thought that I had to get involved and did not stop at that.” 

And she doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. Her next venture into telemetry—within the Technology and Quality functional organization of Supply Chain—has just begun. Jarvis would like to emphasize on leading indicators like “predictive” telemetry to track issues and stay steps ahead of customers.  

 If we can predict the way Jarvis has pursued her career, and even this interview, we can expect big things for her in this next step. 

Source: Cisco

What it will take for us to trust AI Like humans, computers need to behave as we would expect

What it will take for us to trust AI
Like humans, computers need to behave as we would expect
By Guru Banavar, IBM Research

The early days of artificial intelligence (AI) have been met with some very public hand wringing. Well-respected technologists and business leaders have voiced their concerns over the (responsible) development of AI. And Hollywood’s appetite for dystopian AI narratives appears to be bottomless. This is not unusual, nor is it unreasonable. Change, technological or otherwise, always excites the imagination. And it often makes us a little uncomfortable.

But in my opinion, we have never known a technology with more potential to benefit society than artificial intelligence. We now have AI systems that learn from vast amounts of complex, unstructured information and turn it into actionable insight. It is not unreasonable to expect that within this growing body of digital data — 2.5 exabytes every day — lie the secrets to defeating cancer, reversing climate change, or managing the complexity of the global economy.

We also expect AI systems to pervasively support the decisions we make in our professional and personal lives in just a few years. In fact, this is already happening in many industries and governments.
However, if we are ever to reap the full spectrum of societal and industrial benefits from artificial intelligence, we will first need to trust it.

Trust of AI systems will be earned over time, just as in any personal relationship. Put simply, we trust things that behave as we expect them to. But that does not mean that time alone will solve the problem of trust in AI. AI systems must be built from the get-go to operate in trust-based partnerships with people.

The most urgent work is to recognize and minimize bias. Bias could be introduced into an AI system through the training data or the algorithms. The curated data that is used to train the system could have inherent biases, e.g., towards a specific demographic, either because the data itself is skewed, or because the human curators displayed bias in their choices. The algorithms that process that information could also have biases in the code, introduced by a developer, intentionally or not. The developer community is just starting to grapple with this topic in earnest. But most experts believe that by thoroughly testing these systems, we can detect and mitigate bias before the system is deployed.

Managing bias is an element of the larger issue of algorithmic accountability. That is to say, AI systems must be able to explain how and why they arrived at a particular conclusion so that a human can evaluate the system’s rationale. Many professions, such as medicine, finance, and law, already require evidence-based audit ability as a normal practice for providing transparency of decision-making and managing liability. In many cases, AI systems may need to explain rationale through a conversational interaction (rather than a report), so that a person can dig into as much detail as necessary.
In addition, AI systems can and should have mechanisms to insert a variety of ethical values appropriate to the context, such as the task, the individual, the profession, or the culture. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Ethical systems are built around rules, just like computer algorithms. These rules can be inserted during development, deployment, or use. And because these are learning systems, researchers believe that AI systems can, over time, observe human behavior to fill in some of the gaps.

It is incumbent upon the developers of AI systems to answer these questions in a way that satisfies both the industry and the general public. This is already well understood throughout the technology industry, which is why IBM is working together with some of its fiercest competitors — including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook — on the “Partnership on AI,” a unique and open collaboration designed to guide the ethical development of artificial intelligence.

Business leaders considering artificial intelligence solutions should include trust and accountability as part of their criteria for adoption. They should be thoughtful about how and where this technology is introduced throughout the organization. And they should work with their technology vendors to identify any unwanted behaviors and correct them if necessary.

But delaying the implementation of artificial intelligence is not an option. We pay a significant price every day for not knowing what can be known: not knowing what’s wrong with a patient, not knowing where to find a critical natural resource, or not knowing the hidden risks in the global economy. We believe that many of these ambiguities and inefficiencies can be eliminated with artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence is an undeniably powerful technology. And as with any powerful technology, great care must be taken in its development and deployment. Just as it is our obligation to apply this technology to complex, societal problems, it is our obligation to develop it in a way that engenders trust and safeguards humanity. In other words, building trust is essential to the adoption of artificial intelligence.

And we believe that its adoption is essential to humanity.

CAT® MACHINES HELP BRING GOLF BACK TO BIG EVENT IN RIO

A Big Event is happening in Rio de Janeiro for the first time starting August 5 and after 112 years golf will once again be played. Construction of a new golf course was needed, and Cat® machines helped make it happen.

Located in the Barra da Tijuca zone, the project took about two years to complete and opened in late 2015. The 970,000 square meter course is considered one of the most modern in the country and the only course in Brazil approved by the Professional Golfers Association (PGA).

The construction was led by Tanedo S/A and an international team specializing in the development of golf courses. This team has a tradition of using only Cat equipment where they’re contracted.

“SOTREQ WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVIDING EQUIPMENT WITH HIGH PRODUCTION CAPACITY THAT WOULD ACHIEVE THE LEVEL OF QUALITY AND ACCURACY REQUIRED BY THE COMMITTEE”

Cat dealer Sotreq provided several pieces of Cat equipment for the project, including the D6N and D6K Dozers, 315D and 324D Excavators, 416E Backhoe and 305E Mini Excavator.

 

“Sotreq was responsible for providing equipment with high production capacity that would achieve the level of quality and accuracy required by the committee,” explains Alexandre Bastos, Sotreq Commercial Manager.

 

The main challenge faced by Sotreq was providing machines with both agility and productivity, as Tanedo S/A committed to completing the golf course in the very short period of time stipulated by the events’ committee.  To achieve this, Sotreq recommended the use of tilting buckets. “They are suitable to achieve the type of finish and terrain profiles needed by the committee. The use of such equipment made all the difference during field preparation,” says Bastos.
“Given the importance of the project and especially the historical context, we could not be out of it. The golf course was designed with a new concept of design and is considered one of the most modern in the world. Being involved brings our dealership a tremendous amount of pride,” concludes Bastos.
Source: Chevitarese, Camilla. “Sotreq nas Olimpíadas.” ELO News, July 2016

Today, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) celebrated as the plant’s two millionth vehicle

March 29, 2016 – Today, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) celebrated as the plant’s two millionth vehicle – a white 2016 Sorento SXL – rolled off the assembly line in West Point, Georgia.

Representing an investment of more than $1.1 billion, KMMG began mass production on November 16, 2009 and today produces more than forty percent of all Kia vehicles sold in the United States.

“Assembling two million vehicles in less than seven years is a remarkable achievement, and one that each of our team members can take a lot of pride in,” said KMMG President and CEO Hyun-Jong Shin. “The world-class quality that goes into every Sorento CUV and Optima midsize sedan we build is a direct result of the hard work and commitment of our team members, and today we salute their commitment to excellence.”

Together with on-site and local suppliers, KMMG is responsible for the creation of more than 15,000 jobs in West Point and the surrounding region, and achieved its highest-ever ranking – top five among vehicle assembly plants in the U.S. – in J.D. Power’s most recent Initial Quality Study.

“Together, Kia and Georgia have a strong reputation of success,” said Governor Nathan Deal. “The company’s continued investment in the state speaks volumes to our pro-business atmosphere, and we will continue to support them as they grow here. I want to congratulate Kia’s team members on this accomplishment.”

About KMMG

Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Inc. (KMMG) is the first manufacturing site in North America for Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, Korea. With an annual capacity of 360,000 units, KMMG is located on 2,200 acres in West Point, Georgia, and began mass production on Nov. 16, 2009. KMMG is home to the Sorento CUV and the Optima mid-size sedan, two of the brand’s top selling models in the U.S.

Honeywell Engineer Awarded Prestigious NASA Silver Snoopy Award

Honeywell Engineer Syed Hasan has been awarded the prestigious Space Flight Awareness Silver Snoopy Award by NASA which recognizes outstanding achievements related to human flight safety or mission success.

Astronaut Anna Lee Fisher presented Hasan with the award at a ceremony at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland this week. The award, which is given out to NASA employees or contractors, honors the contributions made toward enhancing the probability of mission success, improvements in design, administrative/technical/production techniques, business systems, flight and/or systems safety or identification and correction or preventive action for errors. The award consists of a silver “Snoopy” lapel pin flown during a NASA mission, a commendation letter, and a signed certificate. Hasan’s pin was flown aboard a 2006 Space Shuttle Mission to the International Space Station.

Hasan, a 10-year Honeywell veteran, is the Lead Collision Avoidance Engineer for the Earth Observing System missions (Terra, Aqua and Aura) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. He was nominated for his dedication, commitment, and outstanding support to the Space Flight program while working in the Flight Dynamics Facility as the Human Space Flight lead. He played a major role in the success of the early SpaceX Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) Demo Flights. Syed developed a process improvement in tracking the unmanned SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft during reentry. His process, which involved a more efficient way to process SpaceX-provided trajectory data, yielded better tracking and better communication with the spacecraft on re-entry. Post mission, SpaceX reported highly improved tracking results and expressed their pleasure with the performance of the new support method.

Aerospace, Defense, Space

 

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