This Week @ NASA

Astronauts conduct a spacewalk on the International Space Station to prepare it for future activities. Peggy Whitson became the new women’s record holder for number of spacewalks and more!

International Space Station

Work continued aboard the International Space Station. Spacewalkers Shane Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson used the station’s robotic arm to move the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 on March 24 to move a module to accommodate U.S. commercial spacecraft carrying astronauts on future missions. They continued this work on March 30. Another spacewalk to complete the work is slated for April.

James Webb Space Telescope

Engineers at our Goddard Space Flight Center Center complete vibration and acoustic tesing on the James Webb Space Telescope, which was subjected to earsplitting noice and shaken 50-100 times per second to simulate the rigors of launch.


Data from our MAVEN, our Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, and published in the journal Science, concludes that solar wind and radiation are responsible for stripping Mars of its atmosphere and turning it into the frigid desert world it is today.

Most of the gas ever in the Red Planet’s atmosphere has been lost to space. The MAVEN team focused on the gas argon, estimating that 65% of it has been stripped from the planet. In 2015, the science team determined that atmospheric gas continues to be lost to space.

STEM Education

We participated in a Women’s History Month celebration and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The program feature NASA astronauts and engineers. The were also projects to get girls interested in sciene, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education. There was also a screening of the film ‘Hidden Figures,’ which relates the story of African-American female mathematicians who were instrumental in the agency’s efforts to launch humans to space.

NASA App on Fire TV

We’ve released our latest free NASA app on a whole new platform–Amazon Fire TV! The app is already available for Apple TV, iOS, and Android.Viewers can stream NASA TV, access 16,000+, download video and more!

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A couple months ago, I entered in a T-Shirt design contest for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) organization in college.

I didn’t win, but it was nice to contribute something. This was the design I’ve sent to them. 

(Just a heads-up for future artists, when you are using markers, wait until it’s completely dry. Otherwise, it’ll get messy.)
EduExo: The First Robotic Exoskeleton Kit for STEM Education
A 3D-printable, Arduino-powered kit for students, hobbyists and educators that teaches how to build and program robotic exoskeletons.

About this project

The EduExo

The EduExo is a robotic exoskeleton kit that you assemble and program yourself. It contains the hardware that you need to build an elbow exoskeleton. An accompanying handbook contains a tutorial that will guide you through the different assembly steps. In addition, the handbook provides background information on exoskeleton history, functionality and technology. In the end, you will have a good understanding about exoskeleton technology and its application, together with hands-on experience building and programming your own robotic exoskeleton.

Quick Facts:

What it is:

  • It is an educational robotics kit that will help you to learn about exoskeleton technology.
  • It is a do-it-yourself kit that requires your active participation and willingness to learn and try new things.

For whom it is:

  • For high school and college students who want to learn about robotic exoskeleton technology to prepare themselves for a career in exoskeletons and wearable robotics.
  • For makers and hobbyists who are looking for an interesting and entertaining project in a fascinating field.
  • For teachers and professors who want to set up exoskeleton courses or labs. The EduExo provides additional teaching material and can save a lot of time and money.

Project Background

When thinking of robotic exoskeletons, movies such as Iron Man, Aliens or Elysium may come to your mind. But already today there are many real world exoskeletons that support rehabilitation of stroke patients, enable people with paraplegia to walk again or support workers lifting heavy objects and protecting their backs.

And todays systems are just the beginning of a very promising and quickly growing field that is in need of many skilled talents within the next years.

Due to the novelty of the field, getting involved and learning about robotic exoskeletons is difficult as learning material or even exoskeleton course or classes are not widely available yet. This is made even more difficult as learning about exoskeletons is not possible by theory alone, but also requires practical hands on experience (you have to see and feel it to understand it). Unfortunately, the necessary exoskeleton hardware is expensive and there are no dedicated and affordable learning devices available. This is what we intend to change with the EduExo.

The EduExo recently won the Wearable Robotics Association Innovation Competition in April 2017. This prize was awarded to us by a jury of CEOs and CTOs of leading exoskeleton companies, highlighting their demand for exoskeleton talents. Click on the banner below to learn more.

Philippa Fawcett (1868-1948) was an English mathematician. She was the daughter of Millicent Fawcett, a famous suffragist and one of the founders of the all-female Newham College in Cambridge.

She studied at the college established by her mother, and in 1890 she became the first woman to obtain the top score in the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos exams. Despite this, she was not named as senior wrangler, as that was a title reserved only for men; instead, the title went to the second-highest score, even though it was 13% lower than hers. Nevertheless, her achievement sparked a discussion about the capabilities of women, and she went on to become a College Lecturer in Mathematics.
Teaching Evolution to Students Who Tell Me They’ll Pray for My Soul

To teach evolution at the University of Kentucky is to teach at an institution steeped in the history of defending evolution education. The first effort to pass an anti-evolution law (led by William Jennings Bryan) happened in Kentucky in 1921. It proposed making the teaching of evolution illegal. The university’s president at that time, Frank McVey, saw this bill as a threat to academic freedom. Three faculty members—William Funkhouser, a zoologist; Arthur Miller, a geologist who taught evolution; and Glanville Terrell, a philosopher—joined McVey in the battle to prevent the bill from becoming law. They put their jobs on the line. Through their efforts, the anti-evolution bill was defeated by a 42­–41 vote in the state legislature. Consequently, the movement turned its attention toward Tennessee.

Rachel and I both went to high school and undergraduate in Kentucky schools. This article is a great read about some of the difficult aspects of teaching evolution in a not so receptive classroom. 


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, operates the world premiere astronomical telescope operating from centimeter to millimeter wavelengths.   The Observatory has an active engineering research and development program ranging in areas from digital, mechanical, structural, computational, and software engineering.  The laboratories, utilities and support facilities make it an attractive location for a variety of research experiments, and it serves as the field station for several university-based research teams.  The Observatory is also a major resource for STEM education and public outreach and is used for an extensive array of programs in education and public outreach, and for the training of science and engineering students and teachers. These activities center on the Green Bank Science Center, with its auditorium, classrooms, research facilities and large exhibit hall, which is visited by 50,000 people every year

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, or GBT, is the world’s premiere single-dish radio telescope operating at meter to millimeter wavelengths. Its enormous 100-meter diameter collecting area, its unblocked aperture, and its excellent surface accuracy provide unprecedented sensitivity across the telescope’s full 0.1 - 116 GHz (3.0m - 2.6mm) operating range.

The single focal plane is ideal for rapid, wide-field imaging systems – cameras.  Because the GBT has access to 85% of the celestial sphere, it serves as the wide-field imaging complement to ALMA and the EVLA.Its operation is highly efficient, and it is used for astronomy about 6500 hours every year, with 2000-3000 hours per year available to high frequency science.

Part of the scientific strength of the GBT is its flexibility and ease of use, allowing for rapid response to new scientific ideas.  It is scheduled dynamically to match project needs to the available weather.  The GBT is also readily reconfigured with new and experimental hardware, adopting the best technology for any scientific pursuit. Facilities of the Green Bank Observatory are also used for other scientific research, for many programs in education and public outreach, and for training students and teachers.


Girls in the first few years of elementary school are less likely than boys to say that their own gender is “really, really smart,” and less likely to opt into a game described as being for super-smart kids, research finds.

The study, which appears Thursday in Science, comes amid a push to figure out why women are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields. One line of research involves stereotypes, and how they might influence academic and career choices.

Andrei Cimpian, a professor of psychology at New York University and an author of the study, says his lab’s previous work showed that women were particularly underrepresented in both STEM and humanities fields whose members thought you needed to be brilliant — that is, to have innate talent — to succeed.

“You might think these stereotypes start in college, but we know from a lot of developmental work that children are incredibly attuned to social signals,” Cimpian says. So they decided to look at kids from ages 5 to 7, the period during which stereotypes seem to start to take hold.

Young Girls Are Less Apt To Think That Women Are Really, Really Smart

Photo: Marc Romanelli/Getty Images/Blend Images

Petition to stop training girls to think maths is hard

omg I’m so angry about this I think I’m gonna make it my life’s mission.

Stop teaching girls that drama lessons are fun and exciting but that maths is hard or boring or scary.

Stop teaching girls that you have to be super clever to do maths.

Stop enforcing the mindset that makes girls think that people who enjoy maths are ‘geeks’; stop enforcing the mindset that people who enjoy maths are weird or different or should be excluded or bullied.

Stop enforcing the mindset that makes girls embarrassed to admit they enjoy maths.

Stop selling t-shirts with crappy anti-maths slogans; stop making jokes on tv and in films that normalize girls being bad at maths.

Stop making it so ok to not like maths that girls think it’s ok not to even try to understand it.

Stop permitting the mindset that you’re never gonna use maths in real life, because it’s inexcusable.

Teach girls that maths is easy.

Show girls what maths is used for.

Show girls all the incredible things that people, and that women, have used maths for.

Show girls how to use maths to make your life easier, cheaper, better, to get a better job and a better career, to get a higher salary.

Show girls how maths is useful no matter what your career is, whether you work in science or marketing or product design or dressmaking or in a shop.

Teach girls that maths is logic, that it’s instructions. That it never changes, that it’s just simple rules that you follow.

Teach girls that maths is easy, because training them that its hard from infancy will create a block in their mind and stop them from ever being able to enjoy it.

Maths is fucking awesome, and everybody should know that.

Training girls that it’s hard is criminal.

However big our world is — in our hearts, our minds, in our out-sized atlases?
The universe is even bigger.
—  Neil deGrasse Tyson - Exist // Avenged Sevenfold

Meet the First Woman to Win Math’s Most Prestigious Prize

As an 8-year-old, Maryam Mirzakhani used to tell herself stories about the exploits of a remarkable girl. Every night at bedtime, her heroine would become mayor, travel the world or fulfill some other grand destiny.

Today, Mirzakhani — a 37-year-old mathematics professor at Stanford University — still writes elaborate stories in her mind. The high ambitions haven’t changed, but the protagonists have: They are hyperbolic surfaces, moduli spaces and dynamical systems. In a way, she said, mathematics research feels like writing a novel. “There are different characters, and you are getting to know them better,” she said. “Things evolve, and then you look back at a character, and it’s completely different from your first impression.”

Learn more about Maryam Mirzakhani at wired.

Just got this ask and while I already replied to the person privately, I thought it would be of some good to share my thoughts on the situation. I am not sure how common this feeling is among us folks who straddle between STEM and art, especially those of us still at the beginning of our careers. But it would be nice to get some solidarity anyway:

Yo man even if you’re realising that one thing has become more of a priority to you due to whatever reason (I don’t know which side you’re learning towards, or if you’re in a state of ‘idk what I even want’), it’s honestly better for you emotionally and mentally to reframe your situation. Instead of seeing your doubt as a sign of failure, see it as you being in a state of realisation. See it as you actively considering choices in light of you as a changed person. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’ve wasted your time doing the other thing when you realise you want to do this thing, while understanding that your initial choice was made out of practicality, but you still feel it’s not right.

Having been there myself recently I understand the vulnerability. It gives you anxiety about the future, knowing that your past is all jumbled up. What I’ve realised coming out of the last few months of fugue is all of those things I mentioned above. You’re changing. You’re growing up. You’ll find that things may not work out for you. And sometimes maybe it’s the best decision to remain in the STEM field, just in case. But the thing is: it wasn’t a waste of time, and if choose to remain in STEM, it doesn’t mean you banished from art forever. You always have the choice of art. It doesn’t have to be a full-time freelance thing, but it can be a hobby. And a hobby can be just as successful as a freelance career; it all comes down to how you want to define success. Are you happy? Are you enjoying doing the things you do? And does this feel right for you? And if you choose art, your STEM education will provide you a way out/a secondary means of finances.

I think we just need to understand that there’s no real dichotomy between STEM and art. The barrier is arbitrary, but whether you want to keep the barrier, or build a bridge, is a power that you have control over.


Explore the endosymbiotic theory with the Amoeba Sisters! This theory explains the development of the eukaryote cell from prokaryote cell symbiosis. Scientific theories are also briefly defined.