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Be The Change Herald


Volume 84 –January 2016


Welcome to Anousheh's Be The Change Herald! Feel free to forward to others who might want to register for the newsletter and you can unsubscribe at any time.


Reusable Rockets

You are probably thinking we, at 'Be The Change Herald', can't get enough of the reusable rockets in the news, and you are completely right. In the big space race between different private companies, in this case, Blue Origin and SpaceX, the true winners are space exploration, science, technologies and consequently, humanity.

In another first, on January 22, 2016, Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket safely landed in West Texas again after its second launch into the space. While this can be a huge game changer, in the Blue Origin blog post, their statement sounds underplayed and understated. It starts; "The very same New Shepard booster that flew above the Karman line and then landed vertically at its launch site last November has now flown and landed again, demonstrating reuse. This time, New Shepard reached an apogee of 333,582 feet (101.7 Kilometers) before both capsule and booster gently returned to Earth for recovery and reuse."

To read the blog spot, and see a video of the successful landing, please visit: https://www.blueorigin.com/news

The Botanist in Space

In case you are wondering; no, this won't be about the movie "the Martian", but it is about autonomous gardening on ISS and experiments that are hoped to be useful in the future on Mars and other deep space missions.

When Scott Kelly tweeted a picture of moldy leaves on the current crop of zinnia flowers aboard the International Space Station, it could have looked like the science was doomed. However, what may seem like a failure in systems is actually an exceptional opportunity for scientists back on Earth to better understand how plants grow in microgravity, and for astronauts to practice doing what they'll be tasked with on a deep space mission: autonomous gardening.

The first crop of "Veggie plant growth facility" on ISS in May of 2014 was Outredgrous red romaine lettuce. The loss of two plants and drought issues on that first run, helped them have a successful second edible crop which was activated in July and harvested a month later, right on schedule. All these were done under strict supervision and guidance of Earth scientists.

Next on the docket was a batch of zinnia flowers, a more difficult plant to grow but necessary to understand how plants flower and grow in microgravity. Just two weeks into their growth and the problems started with the plants and also other space station tasks interfered with the proposed situation from Earth. So the plants also became moldy, and new instructions were sent from Earth. By Christmas Eve 2015, Scott Kelly was calling the ground support with new problems and they sent new instructions. This time though Kelly didn't agree with the proposed watering schedule, and suggested a more hands on approach and more decision making control for ISS crew. They eventually would need to do it on deep space mission.

To borrow words from Captain Jean Luc Picard, permission was granted. The results: two of the plants not only survived, but they even had new offshoots of buds forming. As a bonus, the new growth was free of the previous issues. To read and learn more about these as well as the wheat grown in 1996 in space, and to see photos, please visit:


Opportunity on Mars

In this month's issue, it would be unfair to the rover Opportunity and all those responsible for it, to not remember that when the rover landed on Mars 12 years ago, on January 24, 2004, it was believed to be on a 90-day mission. Due to the planet's dusty nature, it wasn't expected that Opportunity would last any longer.

When the unexpected winds on Mars kept the solar panels clean, NASA had to perform a number of important, complicated and unanticipated tasks to keep the rover functioning, e.g., reformatting its memory and pushing crucial software updates to it. The latest headline for NASA's senior Mars rover, Opportunity, reads: Mars Rover Opportunity Busy Through Depth of Winter.

Here is to many more years for Opportunity and many more successful Space missions for humanity.



Anousheh's Favorite Quote:


"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan but also believe."
-Anatole France





Upcoming Appearances


June 30, 2015: February 18, 2016: Women's Perspective Seminar; Learn to Lead, Lead to Learn. Stanford Mechanical Engineering Women's Group. Building 300 Room 300; 4:15pm Social; 4:30 Seminar starts