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    • By NASA
      Lakita Lowe is at the forefront of space commercialization, seamlessly merging scientific expertise with visionary leadership to propel NASA’s commercial ambitions and ignite a passion for STEM in future generations. As a project integrator for NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program (CLDP), Lowe leverages her extensive background in scientific research and biomedical studies to bridge the gap between science and commercial innovation. 

      Lowe recently supported both planning and real-time operations contributing to the successful completion of the Axiom-3 private astronaut mission which launched in January 2024 and is gearing up to serve as CLDP’s Axiom-4 private astronaut mission lead. Her responsibilities include managing commercial activity requests to ensure they align with NASA’s policies, supporting real-time mission operations from CLDP’s console station, and working with various stakeholders to ensure commercial policy documentation is updated to align with the agency’s current guidelines. 

      “The commercially owned and operated low Earth orbit destinations will offer services that NASA, along with other customers, can purchase, thereby stimulating the growth of commercial activities,” said Lowe.  
      Official portrait of Lakita Lowe. Credit: NASA/Bill Stafford Initially set to attend pharmacy school, a chance encounter at a career fair led her to NASA. Seventeen years later, Lowe now supports the enablement of NASA’s goal to transition human presence in low Earth orbit from a government-run destination to a sustainable economy.  

      Lowe’s work has spanned various NASA programs, including the Human Health and Performance Directorate in the Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences (BRES) Division. Lowe’s role in BRES supported NASA research involving the understanding of human adaptation to spaceflight and planetary environments, the development of effective countermeasures, and the development and dissemination of scientific and technological knowledge.  

      “The efforts that go into preparing crew members for spaceflight and ensuring they maintain good health upon their return to Earth is amazing,” she said, highlighting their rigorous pre-flight and post-flight testing.
      Lakita Lowe prepares samples for analysis in a microbiology laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Lowe’s passion for science was ignited in high school by her biology teacher, whose teaching style captivated her curiosity. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in chemistry from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. With five publications completed during her tenure at NASA (two of which were NASA-related), Lowe has contributed to our understanding of the agency’s vision for human spaceflight and commercial research and development on the orbiting laboratory. 

      Lowe is in the process of completing her Ph.D. in Education (Learning, Design, and Technology) from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with a dissertation involving the establishment of telesurgery training programs at medical institutions. She is exploring a field that holds significant promise for space exploration and remote medical care. This technology will enable surgical procedures to be performed remotely, a vital capability for astronauts on long-duration missions. 
      Lakita Lowe at the 2022 International Space Station Research & Development Conference (ISSRDC) in Washington D.C. Lowe dedicated 14 years of her career to integrating science payloads for the International Space Station Program. Early in her career, she worked as a payloads flight controller as a lead increment scientist representative, a dual position between NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. After two years supporting real-time console operations, Lowe served as a research scientist with NASA’s Program Scientist’s Office, where she assessed individual science priorities for the agency’s sponsoring organizations’ portfolio to be implemented on the space station.  

      Later in her career, she worked as a research portfolio manager in the International Space Station Program’s Research Integration Office where she managed the feasibility and strategic planning for investigations involving remote sensing, technology development, STEM, and commercial utilization. She worked closely with researchers sending their experiments to the orbiting laboratory, tracking their progress from start to finish.  

      Now, in the commercial sector, her focus has shifted toward policy and compliance, ensuring commercial activities align with NASA’s regulations and guidance. 
      Lakita Lowe (second to left) at a NSBE SCP (National Society of Black Engineers – Space City Professionals) Chapter membership drive on May 23, 2023. Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz For Lowe, one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is the ability to inspire young minds. Her advice to young Black women interested in STEM is to not limit themselves and to explore the vast opportunities NASA offers beyond engineering and science roles. She emphasizes the importance of NASA engaging with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and minority-serving institutions to spread awareness about the opportunities within the agency.  

      “Considering my busy schedule, I try to make myself available for speaking engagements and mentoring early-career individuals when possible,” she said. 

      Lowe actively participates in organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers and serves as a mentor to interns at Johnson. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and Johnson’s African American Employee Resource Group. 
      Lowe poses for a selfie at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Lowe’s relentless pursuit of knowledge and her unwavering dedication to STEM education continue to inspire generations and pave the way for a more dynamic future in human spaceflight.  

      “As an African American woman at NASA, I am excited about the future of space exploration, where diversity and inclusion will drive innovative solutions and inspire the next generation to reach for the stars.” 
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      During the Rodent Research-1 (RR-1) mission flown to the ISS in 2014, videos that were taken to observe the mice revealed an unusual behavior that researchers are still working to understand. Young (16-week-old) but not old (32-week-old) mice engaged in a high level of ‘running’ behavior beginning within two weeks of launch (Sci Reports, 2019).
      Some alternate interpretations of the running behavior of mice on orbit include significant scientific literature on the rewarding effects of physical exercise, as seen in the footage of Astronaut Alan Bean on Space Lab below. A multi-investigator collaborative team of scientists is conducting follow-up studies on the ground as well as in space on the upcoming Rodent Research-26 mission to understand more about what could be driving this behavior. Comprehensive and in-depth molecular biology studies will be looking at potential indicators of stress (maladaptive coping) or whether the running behavior is a beneficial adaptation to the weightlessness of space.
      Watch the video below to see the mice (and humans) in space.
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      Video of the quirky circling behavior of mice aboard the ISS was recently released. Scientists will be doing further research to understand what's behind this unexplained behavior.NASA Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
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    • By NASA
      Researchers are diving into a synthetic universe to help us better understand the real one. Using supercomputers at the U.S. DOE’s (Department of Energy’s) Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, scientists have created nearly 4 million simulated images depicting the cosmos as NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, jointly funded by NSF (the National Science Foundation) and DOE, in Chile will see it.
      Michael Troxel, an associate professor of physics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, led the simulation campaign as part of a broader project called OpenUniverse. The team is now releasing a 10-terabyte subset of this data, with the remaining 390 terabytes to follow this fall once they’ve been processed.
      “Using Argonne’s now-retired Theta machine, we accomplished in about nine days what would have taken around 300 years on your laptop,” said Katrin Heitmann, a cosmologist and deputy director of Argonne’s High Energy Physics division who managed the project’s supercomputer time. “The results will shape Roman and Rubin’s future attempts to illuminate dark matter and dark energy while offering other scientists a preview of the types of things they’ll be able to explore using data from the telescopes.”
      This graphic highlights part of a new simulation of what NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope could see when it launches by May 2027. The background spans about 0.11 square degrees (roughly equivalent to half of the area of sky covered by a full Moon), representing less than half the area Roman will see in a single snapshot. The inset zooms in to a region 300 times smaller, showcasing a swath of brilliant synthetic galaxies at Roman’s full resolution. Having such a realistic simulation helps scientists study the physics behind cosmic images –– both synthetic ones like these and future real ones. Researchers will use the observations for many types of science, including testing our understanding of the origin, evolution, and ultimate fate of the universe.C. Hirata and K. Cao (OSU) and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center A Cosmic Dress Rehearsal
      For the first time, this simulation factored in the telescopes’ instrument performance, making it the most accurate preview yet of the cosmos as Roman and Rubin will see it once they start observing. Rubin will begin operations in 2025, and NASA’s Roman will launch by May 2027.
      The simulation’s precision is important because scientists will comb through the observatories’ future data in search of tiny features that will help them unravel the biggest mysteries in cosmology.
      Roman and Rubin will both explore dark energy –– the mysterious force thought to be accelerating the universe’s expansion. Since it plays a major role in governing the cosmos, scientists are eager to learn more about it. Simulations like OpenUniverse help them understand signatures that each instrument imprints on the images and iron out data processing methods now so they can decipher future data correctly. Then scientists will be able to make big discoveries even from weak signals.
      “OpenUniverse lets us calibrate our expectations of what we can discover with these telescopes,” said Jim Chiang, a staff scientist at DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, who helped create the simulations. “It gives us a chance to exercise our processing pipelines, better understand our analysis codes, and accurately interpret the results so we can prepare to use the real data right away once it starts coming in.”
      Then they’ll continue using simulations to explore the physics and instrument effects that could reproduce what the observatories see in the universe.
      This photo displays Argonne Leadership Computing Facility’s now-retired Theta supercomputer. Scientists use supercomputers to simulate experiments they can’t conduct in real life, such as creating new universes from scratch. Argonne National Laboratory Telescopic Teamwork
      It took a large and talented team from several organizations to conduct such an immense simulation.
      “Few people in the world are skilled enough to run these simulations,” said Alina Kiessling, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California and the principal investigator of OpenUniverse. “This massive undertaking was only possible thanks to the collaboration between the DOE, Argonne, SLAC, and NASA, which pulled all the right resources and experts together.”
      And the project will ramp up further once Roman and Rubin begin observing the universe.
      “We’ll use the observations to make our simulations even more accurate,” Kiessling said. “This will give us greater insight into the evolution of the universe over time and help us better understand the cosmology that ultimately shaped the universe.”
      The Roman and Rubin simulations cover the same patch of the sky, totaling about 0.08 square degrees (roughly equivalent to a third of the area of sky covered by a full Moon). The full simulation to be released later this year will span 70 square degrees, about the sky area covered by 350 full Moons.
      Overlapping them lets scientists learn how to use the best aspects of each telescope –– Rubin’s broader view and Roman’s sharper, deeper vision. The combination will yield better constraints than researchers could glean from either observatory alone.
      “Connecting the simulations like we’ve done lets us make comparisons and see how Roman’s space-based survey will help improve data from Rubin’s ground-based one,” Heitmann said. “We can explore ways to tease out multiple objects that blend together in Rubin’s images and apply those corrections over its broader coverage.”
      This pair of images showcases the same region of sky as simulated by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory (left, processed by the Legacy Survey of Space and Time Dark Energy Science Collaboration) and NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (right, processed by the Roman High-Latitude Imaging Survey Project Infrastructure Team). Roman will capture deeper and sharper images from space, while Rubin will observe a broader region of the sky from the ground. Because it has to peer through Earth’s atmosphere, Rubin’s images won’t always be sharp enough to distinguish multiple, close sources as separate objects. They’ll appear to blur together, which limits the science researchers can do using the images. But by comparing Rubin and Roman images of the same patch of sky, scientists can explore how to “deblend” objects and implement the adjustments across Rubin’s broader observations. J. Chiang (SLAC), C. Hirata (OSU), and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Scientists can consider modifying each telescope’s observing plans or data processing pipelines to benefit the combined use of both.
      “We made phenomenal strides in simplifying these pipelines and making them usable,” Kiessling said. A partnership with Caltech/IPAC’s IRSA (Infrared Science Archive) makes simulated data accessible now so when researchers access real data in the future, they’ll already be accustomed to the tools. “Now we want people to start working with the simulations to see what improvements we can make and prepare to use the future data as effectively as possible.”
      OpenUniverse, along with other simulation tools being developed by Roman’s Science Operations and Science Support centers, will prepare scientists for the large datasets expected from Roman. The project brings together dozens of experts from NASA’s JPL, DOE’s Argonne, IPAC, and several U.S. universities to coordinate with the Roman Project Infrastructure Teams, SLAC, and the Rubin LSST DESC (Legacy Survey of Space and Time Dark Energy Science Collaboration). The Theta supercomputer was operated by the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a DOE Office of Science user facility.
      The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is managed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech/IPAC in Southern California, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, and a science team comprising scientists from various research institutions. The primary industrial partners are BAE Systems, Inc. in Boulder, Colorado; L3Harris Technologies in Rochester, New York; and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging in Thousand Oaks, California.
      The Vera C. Rubin Observatory is a federal project jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and the DOE Office of Science, with early construction funding received from private donations through the LSST Discovery Alliance.
      Download high-resolution video and images from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
      By Ashley Balzer
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Media Contact:
      Claire Andreoli
      301-286-1940
      claire.andreoli@nasa.gov
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
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    • By European Space Agency
      A new collaboration between ESA and Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands has got passengers thinking about space. Digital screens throughout the airport featuring stunning  satellite images of Earth have been stopping travellers in their tracks. That's because these pictures from space are part of a fun Where on Earth? travel quiz.
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      NASA’s Flight Opportunities program sent two university payloads on suborbital flight tests onboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity on June 8 when it launched from Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
      The payloads carrying scientific research from University of California, Berkeley and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, align with critical technology needs that NASA has identified in pursuit of the agency’s space commerce and exploration goals. The payload from UC Berkeley, studied a new type of 3D printing and the payload from Purdue studied how sloshing of liquid propellant affects spacecraft direction.
      The need to print building materials in space without having to transport them will be critical in the coming years as humans live and work in space for longer durations. Optimizing spacecraft and satellite design will help us increase the rate of scientific discoveries both here on our home planet and on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. 
      “Our program enables researchers to move from the lab to flight test rapidly, and in many cases, multiple flight tests across different commercial vehicles. This allows them the invaluable opportunity to learn from initial tests, implement improvements, and then fly again – or as we like to say, ‘fly, fix, fly,’” said Danielle McCulloch, program manager for Flight Opportunities at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.
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