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    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Marshall Research Scientist Enables Large-Scale Open Science
      Rahul Ramachandran is a senior research scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA By Jessica Barnett 
      Most people use tools at work, whether it’s a hammer, a pencil, or a computer. Very few seek a doctorate degree in creating new tools for the job.
      Using that degree to make it easier for people around the world to access and use the vast amounts of data gathered by NASA? Well, that might just be unheard of if you didn’t know someone like Rahul Ramachandran, a senior research scientist in the Earth Science branch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
      “My undergrad was in mechanical engineering. I wanted to do industrial engineering, so I came to the U.S. for that, but I didn’t like the field that much,” Ramachandran explained. “It was by chance somebody suggested meteorology.”
      That led him to learn about atmospheric science as well, but it was the 1990s and the technology of the time was very limiting. So, Ramachandran set out to learn more about computers and how to better analyze data.
      “The limitations effectively prompted me to get a degree in computer science,” he said. “I now had science, engineering, and computer science in my background. Then, over the years, I got more and more interested in the tools and capabilities that can help not only manage data but also how you extract knowledge from these large datasets.”
      Fast forward to today, and Ramachandran is an award-winning scientist helping to ensure the vast amounts of data collected by NASA are accessible and searchable for scientists around the world.
      “I never would have thought that I could ever get a job working at an agency like NASA,” he said. “You get to work with some of the smartest people in the world, and you get to work on really hard problems. I think that’s what makes it so intellectually stimulating.”
      Over the course of his career, he has worked on many different projects focused on scientific data management, designed frameworks for large scale scientific analysis, and developed machine learning applications. Recently, he worked with team members at IBM Research to create a geospatial AI foundation model that could turn NASA satellite data into maps of natural disasters or other environmental changes. He also established the Interagency Implementation and Advanced Concepts Team (IMPACT) at NASA, which supports NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program by collaborating with other agencies and partners to boost the scientific benefits of data collected by NASA’s missions and experiments.
      Ramachandran received the 2023 Greg Leptoukh Lecture award for his accomplishments, an honor he attributes in large part to the many collaborators and mentors he’s had over the years.
      During his presentation, Ramachandran spoke about the ways in which artificial intelligence can help NASA continue to adapt and support open science.
      “We’ve seen what people can do with ChatGPT, which is built on a language foundation model, but there are AI foundation models for science that can be adapted into analyzing scientific data so we can augment what we are doing now in a much more efficient manner,” he said. “It requires a bit of a change in people’s mindset. How do we rethink our processes? How do we rethink a strategy for managing data? How will people search and analyze data information differently? All those things have to be thought of with a different perspective now.”
      Such work will have benefits not only for NASA but for those who use the data collected by the agency. Ramachandran said he recently got an email from someone in Africa who was able to use NASA’s data and the geospatial AI foundation model for detecting locust breeding grounds on the continent.
      “NASA has produced valuable science data that we make available to the community to use,” Ramachandran said. “I think the future would be that we not only provide the data, but we also provide these AI models that allow the science community to use the data effectively, whether it’s doing basic research or building applications like the locust breeding ground prediction.”
      As that future nears, Ramachandran and his team will be ready to help others in the science community find the data they need to learn and build the tools they’ll use for years to come.
      Share








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      Last Updated Jun 20, 2024 Related Terms
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    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      The NASA 5.2% scale, semi-span version of the High Lift Common Research Model installed in the German-Dutch Wind Tunnels – Braunschweig Low-Speed Wind Tunnel in Braunschweig, Germany on May 4, 2023. NASA NASA and its international partners are using the same generically shaped wing design to create physical and digital research models to better understand how air moves around an aircraft during takeoff and landing.
      Various organizations are doing computer modeling with computational tools and conducting wind tunnel tests using the same High Lift Common Research Model (CRM-HL), a NASA-led effort.
      This ensures the aerospace community is getting accurate answers despite any differences in testing conditions or facilities.
      What started as a voluntary partnership in 2019 has grown into the CRM-HL ecosystem with 10 partners across five countries. The team is building eight wind tunnel models, which will be tested at eight wind tunnels during the next three years.
      What we are learning today would take us 10 years to do alone. The partners are using each other’s research for the mutual benefit of all.
      Melissa Rivers
      NASA Researcher
      “What we are learning today would take us 10 years to do alone,” said Melissa Rivers, subproject manager in NASA’s Transformational Tools and Technologies project, which leads the CRM-HL research. “The partners are using each other’s research for the mutual benefit of all.”
      The team will define and assess common wind tunnel conditions in more than 14 tests across the globe.
      “Through this research, we are learning about differences that occur when we build and test several identical airplane models in multiple wind tunnels,” Rivers said.
      Researchers can use data from these wind tunnel tests to then check if the research tools using computational fluid dynamics are accurately predicting the physics of an aircraft.
      “The computer simulations and computational fluid dynamics tools are key contributions from this international partnership,” said NASA’s Mujeeb Malik, a lead researcher for the project. “The runs [tests] are critical to figuring out what we do not know and determining what we want to test.”
      The partners are developing a standard way to communicate their data so that everyone can better compare the results from their models and wind tunnel tests.
      NASA also is developing a cloud-based solution to give each partner access to the data and foster collaboration.
      To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video
      This silent, 20-second video shows a computer simulation of air flowing over a 5.2% scale of NASA's High Lift Common Research Model wing design. The color key at lower right indicates the speed of the air.NASA Expanding Collaborations with Common Research Models
      This high lift research effort builds on the success of a previous Common Research Model effort focused on transonic speeds.
      Between 2008 and 2014, many organizations built their own versions of NASA’s model. They then tested the models in tunnels around the world.
      The transonic model helped the community better understand the physics of aircraft at cruise. The current high lift model focuses on the takeoff and landing portions of flight when the aircraft is flying slower than at cruise.
      Since there are more wind tunnels that can run low-speed tests, more partners can participate in the current collaboration.
      The partners working on the CRM-HL span five countries – United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Japan and include:
      NASA German Aerospace Center National Office for Aerospace Studies and Research, the French Aerospace Lab JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) European Transonic Wind Tunnel Aerospace Technology Institute Boeing Kawasaki Heavy Industries QinetiQ Airbus Researchers from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) visited NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia on November 28, 2023, as part of their collaborations on the High Lift Common Research Model.NASA NASA and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) researchers check out the 10% scale version of NASA’s High Lift Common Research Model in the 14-by-22-foot subsonic wind tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia on November 28, 2023. In the front row is JAXA’s Yosuke Sugioka, left, NASA’s Courtney Winski, and Andrea Sansica. In the middle row is NASA’s Sarah Langston, left, Melissa Rivers, and Kawasaki Heavy Industry’s Takahiro Hashioka. In the back row is JAXA’s Masataka Kohzai, left, Takahiro Uchiyama, and Mitsuhiro Murayama.NASA Researchers from the National Office for Aerospace Studies and Research (ONERA), the French aerospace lab, joined NASA and Boeing researchers on December 6, 2023, to visit the National Transonic Facility at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where the High Lift Common Research Model is mounted for upcoming wind tunnels test. In the front row is NASA’s Courtney Winski, left, Melissa Rivers, and ONERA’s Annabelle Lipinski. In the back row is ONERA’s Frederic Ternoy, left, ONERA’s Sylvain Mouton, and Boeing’s Adam Clark.NASA The inside wiring of the 5.2% scale, semi-span version of the High Lift Common Research Model taken at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia on November 22, 2023. NASA Technician Jamie Erway prepares the 5.2% scale, semi-span version of the High Lift Common Research Model for wind tunnel tests at the National Transonic Facility at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia on November 22, 2023. NASA The One NASA Boeing Team, a collaborative partnership between NASA and Boeing, meets at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia on December 13, 2023, to share information on recent research around the High Lift Common Research Model and collaborate on next steps and the path forward.NASA Informing Community Initiatives
      Data from the CRM-HL research effort also are driving NASA’s High Lift Prediction Workshop series. The series is sponsored by the Applied Aerodynamics Technical Committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
      The workshops are intended to engage the broader aviation community in these efforts and inspire researchers around the world.
      Another goal of this research is to help realize Certification by Analysis, which supports key objectives of the NASA Computational Fluid Dynamics Vision 2030 Study.
      NASA, industry, and academia developed the study to lay out a long-term plan for developing future computational capabilities and meeting software and hardware needs for computational fluid dynamics.
      The aerospace community will require these resources to efficiently makeaccurate predictions of how air moves around an aircraft. This work also informs the analysis and design of aircraft.
      Certification by Analysis would significantly reduce the amount of flight tests required for an aircraft or engine to meet the requirements for airworthiness.
      This could save aircraft development programs time and millions of dollars. It could also improve product safety and performance.
      The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets the requirements for airworthiness. Companies must provide test results to show new aircraft and engines meet the regulations.
      “Before the FAA would allow this type of certification, the analysis must be as accurate as flight testing,” said Rivers.
      Facebook logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Instagram logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Linkedin logo @NASA Explore More
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    • By NASA
      Background: To protect astronauts from spaceflight health risks like solar radiation and microgravity, scientists develop countermeasures by studying model organisms exposed to the space environment. For the first time, commercial astronaut data from the Inspiration4 (I4) mission has been collected for open-access research in an effort led by Weill Cornell Medicine. ARC’s Open Science Data Repository (OSDR) hosts this data for public use. Facilitated by the OSDR, data from the all-civilian crew enables researchers to validate decades of model organism research and make vital discoveries from biospecimens of humans. The OSDR’s Analysis Working Groups (AWGs), comprised of researchers from around the globe, collaborate to maximize the scientific value of space omics data.
      Main Findings: On June 11, 44 scientific publications, including 32 authored by members of the AWG community and the OSDR team, were prominently featured in the Space Omics and Medical Atlas (SOMA) package of publications in Nature Press. The collection of articles greatly expands our knowledge of how space travel affects humans by addressing questions about the transcriptomic, epigenomic, cellular, microbiome, and mitochondrial alterations observed during spaceflight. Results and best practices from these articles collectively inform SOMA, which provides a standardized approach to spaceflight related research (Figure).
      Impact: The AWG studies featured in these publications leverage the I4 data alongside other OSDR data to pioneer novel discoveries and formulate new hypotheses aimed at uncovering systemic biological responses during spaceflight. Historically, AWG collaborations have led to numerous scientific presentations at conferences, publications in high-impact journals, and the introduction of many new and more diverse researchers into the field.
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    • 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
      Ed Stone, former director of JPL and project scientist for the Voyager mission, died on June 9, 2024. A friend, mentor, and colleague to many, he was known for his straightforward leadership and commitment to communicating with the public.NASA/JPL-Caltech Known for his steady leadership, consensus building, and enthusiasm for engaging the public in science, Stone left a deep impact on the space community.
      Edward C. Stone, former director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and longtime project scientist of the agency’s Voyager mission, died on June 9, 2024. He was 88. He was preceded in death by his wife, Alice Stone. They are survived by their two daughters, Susan and Janet Stone, and two grandsons.
      Stone also served as the David Morrisroe professor of physics and vice provost for special projects at Caltech in Pasadena, California, which last year established a new faculty position, the Edward C. Stone Professorship.
      “Ed Stone was a trailblazer who dared mighty things in space. He was a dear friend to all who knew him, and a cherished mentor to me personally,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Ed took humanity on a planetary tour of our solar system and beyond, sending NASA where no spacecraft had gone before. His legacy has left a tremendous and profound impact on NASA, the scientific community, and the world. My condolences to his family and everyone who loved him. Thank you, Ed, for everything.”
      Stone served on nine NASA missions as either principal investigator or a science instrument lead, and on five others as a co-investigator (a key science instrument team member). These roles primarily involved studying energetic ions from the Sun and cosmic rays from the galaxy. He was one of the few scientists involved with both the mission that has come closest to the Sun (NASA’s Parker Solar Probe) and the one that has traveled farthest from it (Voyager).
      Ed Stone became project scientist for the Voyager mission in 1972, five years before launch, and served in the role for a total of 50 years. During that time, he also served as director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the Voyager mission for the agency. NASA/JPL-Caltech “Ed will be remembered as an energetic leader and scientist who expanded our knowledge about the universe — from the Sun to the planets to distant stars — and sparked our collective imaginations about the mysteries and wonders of deep space,” said Laurie Leshin, JPL director and Caltech vice president. “Ed’s discoveries have fueled exploration of previously unseen corners of our solar system and will inspire future generations to reach new frontiers. He will be greatly missed and always remembered by the NASA, JPL, and Caltech communities and beyond.”
      From 1972 until his retirement in 2022, Stone served as the project scientist from NASA’s longest-running mission, Voyager. The two Voyager probes took advantage of a celestial alignment that occurs just once every 176 years to visit Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. During their journeys, the spacecraft revealed the first active volcanoes beyond Earth on Jupiter’s moon Io, and an atmosphere rich with organic molecules on Saturn’s moon Titan. Voyager 2 remains the only spacecraft to fly by Uranus and Neptune, revealing Uranus’ unusual tipped magnetic poles, and the icy geysers erupting from Neptune’s moon Triton.
      “Becoming Voyager project scientist was the best decision I made in my life,” Stone said in 2018. “It opened a wonderful door of exploration.”
      During Stone’s tenure as JPL’s director from 1991 to 2001, the federally funded research and development facility was responsible for more than two dozen missions and science instruments. Among them was NASA’s Pathfinder mission, which landed on Mars in 1996 with the first Red Planet rover, Sojourner. The next year saw the launch of the NASA-ESA (European Space Agency) Cassini/Huygens mission.
      JPL also developed six missions for planetary exploration, astrophysics, Earth sciences, and heliophysics under Stone’s leadership.
      Journey to Space
      The eldest of two sons, Stone was born in Knoxville, Iowa, during the Great Depression and grew up in the nearby commercial center of Burlington. After high school, he studied physics at Burlington Junior College and went on to the University of Chicago for graduate school. Shortly after he was accepted there, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, and the Space Age began. Stone joined a team building instruments to launch into space.
      “Space was a brand-new field waiting for discovery,” Stone recalled in 2018.
      In 1964, he joined Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow, running the Space Radiation Lab together with Robbie Vogt, who had been a colleague at Chicago. They worked on a number of NASA satellite missions, studying galactic cosmic rays and solar energetic particles.  
      Depending on the mission, Stone served as a co-investigator or principal investigator for the missions’ instrument teams, and Vogt could see his leadership potential. “Ed didn’t let emotions get in the way of doing the best possible job,” he said. “His personality is to solve a problem when it arises.” In 1972, Vogt recommended Stone to JPL leadership to be Voyager project scientist.
      Among Stone’s many awards is the National Medal of Science from President George H.W. Bush. In 2019, he was presented with the Shaw Prize in Astronomy, with an award of $1.2 million, for his leadership in the Voyager project. Stone was also proud to have a middle school named after him in Burlington, Iowa, as an inspiration to young learners.
      News Media Contact
      Calla Cofield
      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
      626-808-2469
      calla.e.cofield@jpl.nasa.gov
      2024-081
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      Last Updated Jun 11, 2024 Related Terms
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