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    • By NASA
      “I graduated in 2008, so that job market was not super great, and I ended up with this very unusual job working for this guy who thought that he had some new theory of physics that he wanted to work on. And so I was responsible for creating little computer simulations, trying to resemble some version of his ideas. His whole thing was like a quasi-spiritual tool, looking toward science as a rationalization of different spiritual beliefs that he had about a collective consciousness and the interconnectedness of things.
      “As I worked for him longer and met a bunch of other people who were trying to put various spiritual beliefs on scientific footing, I got interested [and thought] maybe this could be studied as a cultural thing. What’s going on here with the desire to scientifically explain spiritual beliefs that they have? What’s the dynamic going on there? That’s what led me into eventually going to grad school for anthropology. I studied the way that science gets conceptualized and interpreted to rationalize spiritual and religious beliefs.
      “I had this sort of unconventional trajectory [to NASA]. I didn’t really set a target on something to pursue it. The other thing that might be surprising is that I’ve been insecure about it at every single stage. You know, there’s the whole impostor syndrome thing, and I didn’t feel like I was qualified to be here because I didn’t have some sort of traditional path or because my educational background looks different than that of most of my colleagues. But I’m now at a place where I’ve come to understand that’s true for everyone.”
      – Garrett Sadler, Human Factors Researcher, NASA’s Ames Research Center
      Image Credit: NASA/Bradon Torres
      Interviewer: NASA/Tahira Allen
      Check out some of our other Faces of NASA. 
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      From navigating the depths of the human mind to exploring the vastness of space, Dr. Alexandra (Sandra) Whitmire helps lead research on the effects of prolonged isolation and confinement as NASA prepares to voyage to the Moon and eventually Mars. 

      Whitmire is the lead scientist for the Human Factors and Behavioral Performance element (HFBP) within NASA’s Human Research Program, or HRP. HFBP selects, supports, and helps design studies for Johnson Space Center’s HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog), which conducts missions simulating isolation and confinement to further understand psychological effects on humans.  

      These studies evaluate how crews work as a team and overcome stressors, bringing to light the potential effects of prolonged isolation on behavioral health. They also help reveal strategies for keeping crew members cohesive and engaged on long-duration missions. With greater workloads, higher stress, and more isolation anticipated in future spaceflight missions, especially with communication delays, this research is crucial. 
      Alexandra Whitmire at a Human Resources swearing-in ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz Strategies that support astronauts’ mental health have been around since the early days of spaceflight, and a strong team at NASA is in place to support the behavioral health of crews on the International Space Station. This team facilitates services such as communication with family, regular provision of crew care packages, and guidance on the optimal use of onboard methods that seek to counter adverse effects of spaceflight. For instance, lighting systems that simulate daytime and nighttime can help maintain circadian rhythms in the dark of deep space. HFBP learns from the astronauts’ current psychological support teams, while also planning a research strategy that aims to maintain this level of care in future missions beyond low Earth orbit.  

      Initially working through KBR as a research coordinator, Whitmire played a key role in establishing NASA’s behavioral health and performance research group in 2006. Over time, this small group advocated for dedicated research facilities, leading to the creation of HERA in 2013 and a Behavioral Health and Performance Laboratory in 2016. HFBP also initiates and oversees studies in Antarctica, and also created and managed studies previously conducted through the Scientific International Research In a Unique terrestrial Station, or SIRIUS, a series of international missions that were held inside a ground-based analog facility in Moscow, Russia. 

      Whitmire’s role now involves managing projects aimed at mitigating risks for future spaceflight. She specializes in fatigue management, performance measurement, and strategies to counter behavioral changes that may result from spaceflight.  

      “My journey to NASA was quite unexpected,” she said. “With a background in psychology and writing, I never imagined I’d find an opportunity working in space exploration.” 
      Whitmire began her career supporting the state of Texas and MD Anderson Cancer Center on organizational development. She joined NASA’s HRP in 2006 as a research coordinator for the Human Health and Performance element. 

      Whitmire completed her bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She then earned her master’s in psychology, with a focus on experimental psychology, from the University of Texas in San Antonio, and years later, while continuing her full-time work with KBR, she completed her doctorate in psychology from Capella University. 
      Katie Koube, a HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog) crew member from Campaign 6 Mission 4, prepares food inside the ground-based habitat. Through HERA missions, HRP conducts studies that seek to evaluate how crew health and performance can be affected by stressors anticipated in future exploration missions.  One example study, led by Dr. Grace Douglas, a food technology scientist at Johnson, explored a restricted food system in which meals were replaced with compact bars. Douglas found that limited food options were associated with reduced eating and caloric intake, as well as decrements in mood, highlighting the importance of an acceptable food system for mental well-being on long duration missions.  

      Another study led by Dr. Leslie DeChurch, a professor of Communication and Psychology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., revealed that teams performed worse on a complex, conceptual task at the end of a mission compared to earlier on, highlighting the need to maintain team cohesion and performance over time. Still more studies seek to evaluate the effects of communications delays of up to five minutes each way between crew and HERA’s mission control, which sits just outside the HERA facility.   

      As NASA prepares to launch the first crewed Artemis missions, HRP’s behavioral health team is also incorporating studies to address Moon-specific challenges. The team is focused on the unique demands of lunar landings, such as high-tempo operations and seconds-long communication delays. The current goal is to increase the fidelity of HERA to future Artemis missions to ensure that more meaningful, operationally-relevant results emerge from future investigations.  
      The HERA Campaign 7 Mission 1 crew members inside the analog environment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Through these studies, scientists learn valuable lessons about resilience and coping mechanisms that can benefit future space missions. Their findings emphasize the importance of maintaining social connections, adequate work-rest schedules, and opportunities for exercise to support mental health. Being intentional and reflective with gratitude and positive emotions has also shown significant value, Whitmire notes, adding that during her time at NASA, she has learned more about the importance of relationships, communication, and resolving problems together as a team. 

      “Overall, our goal is to ensure that astronauts are well-prepared for and supported through the psychological demands of space exploration. We seek to apply these insights to improve mental health support for everyone,” Whitmire said. “All of us can learn from these crew members in their periods of isolation to get insights on how to live happier, healthier lives here on Earth.” 
      View the full article
    • By USH
      There have always been whistleblowers on the UFO/UAP/Alien phenomenon. These UFO whistleblowers assert that they can lift the veil of secrecy, revealing what is truly happening. The next whistleblower is Colonel Karl Nell, former leader of the UAP Task Force, who shares his insights on non-human intelligence (NHI) and UAPs. 

      With a distinguished 30-year military career in aerospace and intelligence, Nell provides authoritative perspectives on these phenomena. 
      He discusses his roles at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Bell Labs, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, and asserts with zero doubt that NHI exists and interacts with humanity. 
      Nell also outlines six reasons for the government's reluctance to disclose UAP information and argues for the moral imperative of transparency. 
      Below a compelling interview with Colonel Karl Nell, recorded on May 21, 2024.
        View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA selected 12 finalist teams to compete in the next round of the Human Lander Challenge (HuLC) competition. In 2023, NASA invited undergraduate and graduate students from accredited colleges and universities in the United States to propose innovative solutions to manage the lunar dust a spacecraft stirs up when landing on the Moon.
      NASA’s Artemis campaign will establish a long-term human presence on and around the Moon for the benefit of all, and one of the challenges the agency and its partners must address is the particularly dusty aspect of landing on the lunar surface. These university-level teams will spend the next several months continuing to develop their concepts for managing or preventing the cloud of dust created when using rocket engines to land on unprepared surfaces like the Moon. This effect is called plume surface interaction and can damage assets NASA plans to establish on the Moon’s surface, like habitats and scientific experiments.
      “Each team brings a unique perspective and I’m excited to see the cumulation of each team’s extensive research and concept development at the 2024 Forum,” said Jamshid Samareh, lead for the technology identification and assessment team at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “Their proposed system-level designs showcase the brilliance and dedication of the Artemis Generation to our collective mission. I am confident their work will propel us closer to the Moon and hopefully inspire future advancements in space exploration.”
      The 2024 HuLC Finalist Teams are:
      Colorado School of Mines“Prudent Landers – FAST” Advisor: Mark Florida, Dr. Angel Abbud-Madrid, David Purcell Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University“Plume Additive for Reducing Surface Ejecta and Cratering (PARSEC)” Advisor: Dr. Siwei Fan Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University“Ceramic Research Advancement Technology at Embry-Riddle (C.R.A.T.E.R.)” Advisor: Seetha Raghavan Ohio Northern University“HuLC Smash” Dr. Louis DiBerardino Texas A&M University“Maroon Moon: Preliminary Surface Stabilization to Mitigate Lunar Plume Surface Interaction” Advisor: John F. Connolly, Dr. Jean-Louis Briaud Texas A&M University“Synthetic Orbital Landing Area for Crater Elimination (SOLACE)” Advisor: Dr. Helen Reed Texas State University“Numerical Simulation and Physical Validation of Regolith Ejecta During Plume Surface Interaction” Advisor: Dr. Bin Xiao The College of New Jersey“TCNJ Adaptable Regolith Retention Program (TARRP)” Advisor: Mohammed Alabsi University of California San Diego“Microwave Lunar Sintering of Nanophase Iron Enriched Lunar Regolith for the Creation of a Lunar Landing Pad” Advisor: Dr. Amy Eguchi, Dr. Zahra Sadeghizadeh, Dr. Ross Turner University of Colorado Boulder (Graduate Team)“Lunar Surface Assessment Tool (LSAT): A Simulation of Lunar Dust Dynamics for Risk Analysis” Advisor: James Nabity University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign“HINDER: Holistic Integration of Navigational Dynamics for Erosion Reduction” Advisor: Laura Villafane Roca University of Michigan“ARC-LIGHT: Algorithm for Robust Characterization of Lunar surface Imaging for Ground Hazards and Trajectory” Advisor: Mirko Gamba, Chris Ruf The finalist selection process involved a rigorous assessment of each team’s proposal package submission, consisting of a 5–7-page concept proposal and a two-minute summary video. The judging panel made up of subject matter experts from NASA’s Human Landing System Program considered factors such as feasibility, innovation, and adherence to NASA’s safety standards. Each team will receive a $7,000 stipend award to facilitate further development of their proposed concept and their full participation in the 2024 HuLC Forum in Huntsville, Alabama this June. The 12 finalists will make final presentations to a panel of NASA and industry experts at the onsite HuLC Forum. The top three winning teams will share a prize purse of $18,000.
      The Human Lander Challenge is sponsored by NASA’s Human Landing System Program and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace.
      Through Artemis, NASA will land the first woman, first person of color, and its first international partner astronaut on the Moon, paving the way for a long-term, sustainable lunar presence to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before and prepare for future astronaut missions to Mars.
      For full competition details, visit the Human Lander Challenge website:
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA, Health and Human Services Highlight Cancer Moonshot Progress
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