NanoRacks Brings Over 30 Payloads to ISS, Including Kaber Satellite and Boy Scouts of America 

NanoRacks Brings Over 30 Payloads to ISS, Including Landmark Kaber Satellite and First-Ever Boy Scouts of America Experiment

Houston, TX – August 16, 2017 – SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft successfully berthed to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday after their twelfth commercial resupply (CRS) mission launched from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The CRS-12 Dragon carried 32 of NanoRacks’ customer payloads to the ISS.

Notably on this mission was the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) and Adcole-Maryland Aerospace’s Kestrel Eye IIM (KE2M) satellite. This satellite is a technology demonstration seeking to validate the concept of using microsatellites in low-Earth orbit to support critical operations. The overall goal is to demonstrate that small satellites are viable platforms for proving critical path support to operations and hosting advanced payloads.

KE2M is the second flagship satellite in NanoRacks’ Kaber Deployment Program. NanoRacks Kaber Deployment Program allows for a larger EXPRESS class of satellites to be deployed from the International Space Station, up to 100 kilograms. NanoRacks deploys these Kaber-class satellites currently through the Japanese Experiment Module Airlock, and will shift deployments to the NanoRacks Airlock Module when the Company’s commercial Airlock becomes operational (planned for 2019).

On this mission are also three satellites that were selected for flight by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) as part of the twenty second installment of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions, and sponsored by the NASA Launch Services Program (LSP). These include NASA Jet Propulsion Lab’s (JPL) ASTERIA, Goddard Spaceflight Center’s DELLINGR, and Pennsylvania State University’s OSIRIS-3U. These CubeSats have a target deployment for mid-November.

Additionally, NanoRacks brought 28 DreamUp student experiments to the ISS, which includes the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Mission 11 (21 MixStix), Israel’s Ramon Foundation (5 MixStix), Cuberider-1, and the Boy Scouts of America (both NanoLab projects).

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) project, sponsored by the Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), is the first-ever experiment in space by BSA. The scouts of Troop 209, a part of the Pathway to Adventure Council based in Chicago, are seeking to better understand how bacteria functions in space, and why virulence patterns in space differ from those on Earth.

With the completion of the CRS-12 launch, NanoRacks has now brought over 580 payloads to the International Space Station since 2009.

Read Our Press Release Online

International Music Grants

The NAMM Foundation Announces $675,000 in Grants to Music Education Programs Worldwide

July 6, 2017

The NAMM Foundation has announced that the organization will benefit 24 different music education programs with $675,000 in grants, an increase made possible by NAMM Foundation donors. The beneficiaries, located both domestically and abroad, provide access and instruction to a variety of different communities and demographics. While unique in instrumentation and location, each organization’s mission underscores the Foundation’s commitment to creating and supporting access to quality music education programs to inspire a life-long love of music making.

“From France to Brazil, to Canada and Great Britain and beyond, the recipients of our grants are working to create access and opportunities for all people to experience the joy of making music,” stated Mary Luehrsen, Executive Director of The NAMM Foundation. “It is through the transformative work of nonprofit music service organizations that thousands of people will discover their own musical talents.”

Since its inception in 1994, The NAMM Foundation’s annual grant program has donated more than $16 million in support to domestic and international music education programs, scientific research, advocacy and public service programs related to music making. The grants are funded in part by donations from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and its 10,300 member companies worldwide.

“We are grateful to the many new and existing donors who have so generously benefitted the NAMM Foundation this past year,” continued Luehrsen. “Their generosity has helped the Foundation expand its grant making efforts to benefit numerous opportunities for people of all ages to experience the joys and benefits of making music.”

The 2017 beneficiaries of The NAMM Foundation grants are as follows:

Anafima Associação Nacional dos Fabricantes de Instrumentos Musicais e Audio LTda (ANAFIMA)

The Brazilian Musical Instruments and Audio Industry Association is led by a mission of creating more musicians. The charity was formed by the ANAFIMA to channel resources directly into creating more music makers. The NAMM Foundation funding will support its efforts to expand National Play Day in 2018 offering free lessons through a network of music stores and companies. A grant will also support promotional efforts through an expanded website and PR outreach to promote the benefits of making music and National Play Day events and music learning opportunities.

Australian Music Association

The Australian Music Association is the trade body for the music products industry, representing wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers and associated services for musical instruments, pro audio, print music, lighting and computer music products. The NAMM Foundation funding supports the expansion of AMA’s commitment to Recreational Music Making and the organization’s Young Warriors program. This outreach and youth development effort is organized in collaboration with regional mental health professionals and youth workers who operate rock bands and hands-on music technology learning in store fronts and community centers. Funding will also support the 2018 Make Music Day Australia.

Coalition for Music Education in Canada

The Coalition for Music Education in Canada (CMEC)’s mission is to raise the awareness and understanding of the role that music education plays in Canadian culture, and to promote the benefits that music education brings to young people. The NAMM Foundation funding supports the expansion of its Music Monday program, a public awareness initiative that engages thousands of music makers and the media in the opportunity to celebrate music making’s vital role in school and in life. The program has engaged national media, politicians and artists in promoting the importance of music education for all children in Canada. CMEC will also continue to advance its Youth4Music program engaging young people in their communities creating a network of youth promoting the benefits and importance of music education.

Dallas Wind Symphony

The Dallas Wind Symphony’s mission is to bring extraordinary musicians and enthusiastic audiences together to celebrate the performance, promotion, and preservation of the music and traditions of the American wind band through concerts, recordings, broadcasts, music education programs, commissions, and projects that nurture the professional development of musicians, composers, and conductors. The NAMM Foundation funding will support their School Band Education Enrichment for all Dallas Independent School District fifth grade students as an introduction to band. Funding also supports the Dallas Wind Symphony summer band camp that provides at-risk and underserved students from the Dallas Independent School District the chance to attend a unique summer band camp presented by the professional musicians of this world-class wind ensemble.

EngAge, Inc.

The EngAge mission is to empower people- intellectually, creatively and emotionally- to do what they do best for the rest of their lives. EngAGE is a national service program that is an outgrowth of NAMM-funded research on the impact of rigorous music and art making on the health and wellbeing of seniors. A first-ever NAMM Foundation grant will support “EngAGE in Music,” an expansion of ongoing EngAGE in Creativity programs, that transforms senior apartment communities into vibrant centers for teaching and learning, artistic exploration, creativity and engagement. Funding support for EngAGE in Music will offer a variety of music programs (taiko drumming, ukulele, choir and other ensemble music opportunities) for low-income seniors residing in Common Bond communities in Minneapolis, MN through a collaboration with the MacPhail Center for Music.

Guitars and Accessories Marketing Association

The Guitar and Accessories Marketing Association (GAMA) is a trade association comprising guitar products manufacturers and distributors with a mission to bring together and grow the guitar community by promoting greater access to learning and playing guitar. The NAMM Foundation funding supports the training of 250-300 school music educators in the coming year through workshops that occur across the country and provides tools to start school-based guitar programs. Through the grant, this long-running program has substantially influenced what is offered in music education curriculum programs in the U.S. today.

Guitars in the Classroom

Guitars in the Classroom (GITC) trains and equips classroom teachers to integrate singing and playing guitar into children’s daily school experiences. By providing instruction, access to instruments, resource materials, and program supervision, GITC empowers educators to transform classrooms into musical environments that bring out the best in all students by engaging them in studies across the curriculum. The NAMM Foundation funding will support the “Triangle Training Approach” – workshops and teacher training to support teachers as they integrate guitar and ukulele into the elementary curriculum.

John Lennon Educational Tour Bus

The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a non-profit 501(c)(3) state-of-the-art mobile audio and HD video recording and production facility. The NAMM Foundation funding supports a school and community residency in school year 2017-18 featuring student workshops on The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a mobile recording studio that provides hands-on training in music technology. As part of the residency, The NAMM Foundation hosts a community-wide, town hall style SupportMusic Community Forum as a national webcast that celebrates the community’s commitment and support for music education for all students. A school district/community is selected based on a submission to a “What Makes Music Education Great in My District” video contest that is held each fall.

Little Kids Rock

The mission of Little Kids Rock is to restore and revitalize music education in U.S. public schools. It provides free musical instruments and music instruction to underserved schools across the country. The NAMM Foundation funding supports Little Kids Rocks’ Modern Band Rockfest 2017, its 5th annual national teacher training conference. This week-long teacher training event guides teachers and administrators in methods to develop “modern band” programs – guitar, drums, keyboard – as part of school music education offerings.

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation

The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation (MHOF) expands and boosts music education in schools by providing durable, high-quality musical instruments to deserving, under-funded music programs nationwide. MHOF also helps schools advance best practices to ensure the longevity of these vital programs. The NAMM Foundation funds will assist MHOF in selecting and providing new instruments to supply two school music programs.

Music For All

Music For All/UK is the charity attached to the UK musical instrument industry. The organization serves to make more musicians. The charity will use The NAMM Foundation grant to align its Learn to Play Day in 2017 with the global Make Music Day UK music events and to expand the reach and ambition of the project. The Learn to Play Day annual event enables the public to have free lessons at UK music retail stores. The goal is to expand Learn to Play Day to a week-long event that culminates in UK-wide Make Music Day being developed with partners that include the BBC, musicians’ union and others. As part of an expanding NAMM-member-led network, Music for All will also share its community event resources with MI organizations in Brazil, Spain and Germany.

Musical Futures Australia

Musical Futures, a program created in the UK and with NAMM support, will offer training to teachers in schools. The program is designed to extend the reach of music education into the local school systems across Asia using the Musical Futures approach to teaching and learning. A grant supports the project’s immediate goals to increase access to music making through: the development of a network of schools and highly skilled teachers who can facilitate and lead music education in their local cities and communities; creating an infrastructure and means to transfer the skills and approach to local teachers and school systems; broaden the base of music making opportunities to include recreational/community music making for young students; and address the barriers and impediments that restrict access to music making across school systems.

National Piano Foundation

The mission of the National Piano Foundation is to develop educational programs, activities and materials which educate the general public, parents and students about the value, benefit and enjoyment of playing the piano; contribute to the professional well-being of the teaching community; support the music study success of piano users; and promote the productive interaction and cooperation of all segments of the music industry. The NAMM Foundation funds will support the continuance of the National Piano Foundation’s (NPF) training for piano teachers in collaboration with Music Teachers National Association (MTNA). The grant also supports a new program, Keyboards in the Classroom, and the development and piloting of a new classroom curriculum and teacher training modeled after a high-impact program in a Texas public school. This “teaching the teacher” program seeks to reach thousands of more students through group keyboard lessons and compel piano and piano lab purchases as part of music education infrastructure needs in public schools.

National String Project Consortium

The National String Project Consortium (NSPC) is a coalition of String Project sites based at colleges and universities across the United States. The NSPC is dedicated to increasing the number of children playing stringed instruments, and addressing the critical shortage of string teachers in the United States. The NAMM Foundation funding support will provide teacher training for string music educators and offer training to teach strings in inner-city and under-served communities. Funding will support the emerging programs of four existing sites at Pacific University, Kennesaw State University, Southern Mississippi University, and University of Texas at El Paso, as well as a new site at Tennessee Tech University.

Notes for Change, Inc.

Notes for Change, Inc. seeks to empower students through the experience of musical study and increasing access to music education. The organization’s goals are to promote life skills and community through musical training, and advocate for music education. The NAMM Foundation funding will expand the Ensemble Newsletter readership by distributing in formats that provide access through all means across the global Sistema. Support will also raise awareness through a social media campaign.

Orchestre a’ L’Ecole

Orchestre A L’Ecole, a non-profit music trade association in France, aims to develop the musical abilities of young people in schools in disadvantaged areas. The NAMM Foundation funding will support the continued expansion and provide instruments for students regardless of the personal financial resources of schools and students. As of September 2016, this program of youth orchestra development in France has increased to include 1,200 orchestras throughout the country and hosts national and regional festivals.

Percussion Marketing Council

The Percussion Marketing Council’s mission is to provide professional marketing and advertising campaigns, programs and activities that bring increased public awareness to drumming, thus increasing the number of people playing all types of drums. The NAMM Foundation funding supports four key PMC program areas: Drum Set in the Classroom (DSC) that offers in-school drum set workshops with a goal to create more drummers and familiarity with drum set music making; expansion of Percussion in the Schools (PIS) to include more in-school events and cultivate more professional facilitators; Drums Across America based on PMC’s successful drum lesson lab tent at select Vans Warped Tour in the summer and increase the lesson lab activities in school and community settings; and International Drum Month, an annual promotion and percussion celebration effort.

Percussive Arts Society

Percussive Arts Society (PAS) is a non-profit, music service organization. Its mission is to promote percussion education, research, performance and appreciation throughout the world. The NAMM Foundation funding supports its expansion of the Indianapolis-based Find Your Rhythm! Community Outreach program. The grant will continue its work with Indianapolis-area school districts via tours and hands-on programs at Rhythm! Discovery Center that also serve the general public with exposure to music education and percussion in its Saturday programs.

San Diego Youth Symphony

The San Diego Youth Symphony (SDYS) and Conservatory instills excellence in the musical and personal development of students through rigorous and inspiring musical-training experiences. The NAMM Foundation funding supports SDYS Community Opus after-school programs in Chula Vista, CA (CVESD). As the district builds its district-wide music education program, the Opus after-school program fill a gap of access for students who do not yet have in-school music and students who want a more advanced music ensemble experience. The NAMM Foundation support for the SDYS Community Opus in Chula Vista has been a catalyst for the re-instatement of music education in the district including the hiring of over 70 fulltime certified music and arts educators.

SongwritingWith: Soldiers

SongwritingWith: Soldiers (SW:S)’s mission is to transform lives by using collaborative songwriting to expand creativity, connections and strengths. Soldiers (SW:S) connects veterans with professional songwriters in retreat and workshop settings to craft songs about combat, the transition home and address issues of PTSD, connectedness and social isolation that can occur after military service. The program serves all branches of the military populations. Retreats are free to participants and their family/caregiver. The NAMM Foundation will support two SongwritingWith: Soldiers retreats.

The Sphinx Organization, Inc.

Founded in 1996, the Sphinx Organization is a Detroit-based national performing arts organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. The NAMM Foundation funding will support the organization’s summer academy that provides music education and a pathway to exemplary achievement in classical music for Black and Latino student musicians.

Technology Institute for Music Educators (TI:ME)

The Technology Institute for Music Educators (TI:ME) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist music educators in applying technology to improve teaching and learning in music. The NAMM Foundation grant will support the TI:ME Technology Leadership Academy for pre-service music education teachers. Selected through a competitive, national application process, 20 participants who are in the final years of preparation to be music teachers, will attend the academy to be held in conjunction with the TI:ME National Conference and learn various methods for using music technology as part of standards-based music education curriculum.

VH1 Save the Music Foundation

VH1 Save the Music Foundation develops long-term, sustainable instrumental music programs in high-need public schools. In 2014, they created the KEYS + Kids Piano Grant Program to respond to the demand for high-quality piano packages for music, drama and community programs in K-12 schools. The NAMM Foundation funding will provide two targeted KEYS + Kids grants to qualifying schools in the 2017-18 school year.

Young Audiences Arts for Learning

A grant to Young Audiences (YA), a national non-profit that connects educators to community music and arts education resources, continues a collaboration with The NAMM Foundation to strengthen the capacities of music service organizations. YA will organize a series of forums and roundtables at The NAMM Show 2018 along with online resources to strengthen music making service organizations around issues of non-profit management including board governance, fund raising, promotion and program evaluation and implementation that includes alignment with national fine arts standards.

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a non-profit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its 10,300 members around the world. The NAMM Foundation works to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit


Chalise Zolezzi


Director of PR and Social Media

Phone: (760) 438-8001


About NAMM

The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is the not-for-profit association with a mission to strengthen the $17 billion music products industry. NAMM is comprised of approximately 10,300 members located in 104 countries and regions. NAMM events and members fund The NAMM Foundation‘s efforts to promote the pleasures and benefits of music, and advance active participation in music making across the lifespan. For more information about NAMM, please visit, call 800.767.NAMM (6266) or follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Who wants to publish our research on growing plants faster on Mars?

Our Occupy Mars Tiger Team has been invited to write a professional paper on how we plan on growing food faster on the planet Mars.  Who wants the assignment?



Author Instructions

Plant Direct is a sound science journal for the plant sciences that give prompt and equal consideration to papers reporting work dealing with a variety of subjects. Topics include but are not limited to genetics, biochemistry, development, cell biology, biotic stress, abiotic stress, genomics, phenomics, bioinformatics, physiology, molecular biology, and evolution.

Manuscript Types

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To represent our support of a global identifier and standardization in academic publishing, we require that all authors include a valid ORCID ID and email address during the submission process. Peer review of manuscripts will not commence until this information has been provided for all authors.

There are two ways to add your ORCID ID:1. On the Plant Direct Submission Homepage , click the “Use an Existing ID” to log into your ORCID ID and register it with Plant Direct.2. If you are already logged into the Plant Direct Submission Site, go to the “Modify Profile/Password” link at the bottom of the page underneath General Tasks. On the next page, go to the ORCID field to add the ID.Please Note: The email provided during submission must match the email associated with your ORCID account. If these emails are different, you will not be able to link the two accounts. At this time, each author must add their ORCID information individually. The system does not currently allow author information to be updated on behalf of an author.

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Plant Direct enthusiastically endorses the use of preprint servers. To show our enthusiasm, all manuscripts published using a preprint service before submission to the journal will be eligible for a discount. Please note that proof of prior upload to a preprint server (such as a valid link to the preprint server paper) must be provided during submission in order to qualify for the discount. At this time, we are not able to extend the discount to papers uploaded to a preprint server after the manuscript has already been submitted to Plant Direct.

We encourage authors to upload papers to the BioRxiv ( preprint server and use the direct submission option to submit their manuscripts to Plant Direct.

At this time, we also extend the APC discount to papers previously uploaded to the preprint servers Arxiv ( and Peerjpreprints (

If you have used a different preprint server that is not listed above, please contact the editorial office for guidance.

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A manuscript is considered for review and possible publication on the condition that it is submitted solely to Plant Direct, and that neither the manuscript nor a substantial portion of it is under consideration elsewhere.

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In order to make the submission process as easy as humanly possible, we place very few restrictions on the way in which you prepare your article and it is not necessary to try to replicate the layout of the journal in your submission. We ask only that you consider your reviewers by ensuring that your manuscript is presented in a clear, generic and readable layout, and that all relevant sections are included. Line numbers are often helpful to reviewers. Fonts and spacing are not mandatory but do remember that the more readable your manuscript, the easier it will be for editors and reviewers to properly evaluate it. Post-acceptance, our production team will ensure that the paper is formatted and designed according to our journal style.

Please use the list below as a checklist to ensure the manuscript has all the information necessary for a successful review:

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Please keep the following guidelines in mind while preparing your article for Plant Direct:

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Abstract (Maximum of 500 words)

Briefly describe the manuscript’s purpose, your hypothesis, methods, results and conclusions.


  • Should be complete enough that other laboratories can replicate results.
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Author Contributions and Acknowledgments

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  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; AND
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Each article must include an Author Contributions section (to appear after Acknowledgments) that explains how each author contributed to the research and/or writing of the manuscript. Note which of the following tasks each author performed: designed the research; performed research; contributed new analytic/computational/etc. tools; analyzed data; or wrote the paper. All other contributors should instead be acknowledged appropriately in the Acknowledgments section, and authors should seek written permission to include any individuals mentioned in acknowledgments.


Upon first submission, references may be submitted in any standard format (e.g. AMA style).

Figure legends

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Figure preparation

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If necessary, we will request higher-quality figures prior to production of proofs. Figures should be conceptual and unambiguous. Guiding principles of good figure preparation are listed below. Click on or follow the “detailed figure guidelines” link below for additional information and examples. See links below on inappropriate figure manipulation and preparing figures for color vision-deficient readers.

Detailed figure guidelines (

Figure manipulation

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Detailed Supplemental Data Guidelines

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  • Large-scale data sets and other data that is impractical to include in the main manuscript.
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Large-scale data sets

Large-scale data sets (e.g., complete or draft genome sequences, genome annotations, genetic maps, EST data sets, transcript profiles, proteomic data sets, metabolic profiles, next-gen sequencing data and plant phenotyping image datasets) that are integral to the manuscript must be provided at time of manuscript submission. These include data from small RNA, mRNA, specialized RNA libraries, ChIP-seq, whole-genome re-sequencing or genotyping, whole-genome bisulfite sequencing, etc.

At the time of publication, these large-scale data sets must be available to readers in a permanent public repository with open access (e.g., GEO, Array-Express, NCBI’s Short Read Archive sequence database; the microRNA database or a general purpose data repository such as Zenodo) as they will not be stored at Plant Direct permanently, only during the review process if necessary. Full data sets must be released, even if only a subset of the data was selected for use in the analysis. Image datasets should be provided with the corresponding extracted data (e.g. as a .csv file). Non-permanent URLs may be provided additionally at the option of authors as a means to enable readers to access or query information more conveniently. Non-permanent URLs may also be provided for software and unusual file types requiring special software downloads or those that are not compatible with Plant Direct website. The Methods section should also contain the following information: algorithms and parameters used in assembly of genomic data; description of procedures for normalization for measurements of transcript abundances; mismatch parameters for genome-matched reads for all libraries; library adapter sequences.

In general, large-scale data sets must be complete (e.g., must include the complete set of genome sequences analyzed, ESTs identified, genes queried in transcript profiling, peptides identified, molecules identified, etc.). When appropriate and suitably sized, these should be provided in comma separated value (csv) format for publication on Plant Direct site (not as PDF files); otherwise they should be made available via public databases. Data supporting transcript profiling experiments must include complete sequence information (e.g., accession numbers, any relevant annotation data, and in the case of Arabidopsis, TAIR locus identifiers []). Authors are encouraged to follow the MIAME (Minimal Information for a Microarray Experiment) standards for microarray analyses For plant phenotyping datasets, authors are encouraged to follow the MIAPPE (Minimum Information about Plant Phenotyping Experiment) standards (

Genome sequencing

The entire raw sequence data on which the genome is based, the final assembled version, and the complete annotation (insofar as possible) of the assembled genome must be available at a public repository at the time of publication. Typical files available for download would include, for example, the genome sequences (contigs or pseudomolecules as FASTA files), a GFF or GTF file describing the gene models, together with cDNA, CDS, and protein sequences as FASTA files. Depending on the focus of the work, information about contig scaffolding and additional annotated features such as transposable elements, miRNAs and ncRNAs may be required.

Peer review

Members of the editorial board will evaluate all manuscripts upon submission to determine whether they are appropriate for evaluation by external expert reviewers.

At submission, authors are required to suggest a minimum of two reviewers. All reviewers will be vetted for legitimacy but authors should take care not to suggest people who have a conflict of interest as defined by the ASPB policy (

While authors’ suggested reviewers may be considered, Plant Direct editors are permitted to use any reviewer reasonably believed to be an appropriate scientific expert, except reviewers who would be excluded by ASPB’s conflict of interest policy.

If authors wish to request the exclusion of certain reviewers for other reasons, specific justification must be provided; such requests may be considered at the discretion of the editor.

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How Robots & Algorithms Are Taking Over: Space Mathematics

How Robots & Algorithms Are Taking Over

  • Special Note:  This paper is being used for the Occupy Mars Learning Adventure’s project-based learning program at the Barboza Space Center.  We are training space science “Tiger Teams.”

by Nicholas Carr
Norton, 276 pp., $26.95
CCI/Art Archive/Art Resource

Artwork for the cover of a 1959 issue of the French science fiction magazine Galaxie

In September 2013, about a year before Nicholas Carr published The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, his chastening meditation on the human future, a pair of Oxford researchers issued a report predicting that nearly half of all jobs in the United States could be lost to machines within the next twenty years. The researchers, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, looked at seven hundred kinds of work and found that of those occupations, among the most susceptible to automation were loan officers, receptionists, paralegals, store clerks, taxi drivers, and security guards. Even computer programmers, the people writing the algorithms that are taking on these tasks, will not be immune. By Frey and Osborne’s calculations, there is about a 50 percent chance that programming, too, will be outsourced to machines within the next two decades.

In fact, this is already happening, in part because programmers increasingly rely on “self-correcting” code—that is, code that debugs and rewrites itself*—and in part because they are creating machines that are able to learn on the job. While these machines cannot think, per se, they can process phenomenal amounts of data with ever-increasing speed and use what they have learned to perform such functions as medical diagnosis, navigation, and translation, among many others. Add to these self-repairing robots that are able to negotiate hostile environments like radioactive power plants and collapsed mines and then fix themselves without human intercession when the need arises. The most recent iteration of these robots has been designed by the robots themselves, suggesting that in the future even roboticists may find themselves out of work.

The term for what happens when human workers are replaced by machines was coined by John Maynard Keynes in 1930 in the essay “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.” He called it “technological unemployment.” At the time, Keynes considered technical unemployment a transitory condition, “a temporary phase of maladjustment” brought on by “our discovery of means of economizing the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour.” In the United States, for example, the mechanization of the railways around the time Keynes was writing his essay put nearly half a million people out of work. Similarly, rotary phones were making switchboard operators obsolete, while mechanical harvesters, plows, and combines were replacing traditional farmworkers, just as the first steam-engine tractors had replaced horses and oxen less than a century before. Machine efficiency was becoming so great that President Roosevelt, in 1935, told the nation that the economy might never be able to reabsorb all the workers who were being displaced. The more sanguine New York Times editorial board then accused the president of falling prey to the “calamity prophets.”

In retrospect, it certainly looked as if he had. Unemployment, which was at nearly 24 percent in 1932, dropped to less than 5 percent a decade later. This was a pattern that would reassert itself throughout the twentieth century: the economy would tank, automation would be identified as one of the main culprits, commentators would suggest that jobs were not coming back, and then the economy would rebound and with it employment, and all that nervous chatter about machines taking over would fade away.

When the economy faltered in 1958, and then again in 1961, for instance, what was being called the “automation problem” was taken up by Congress, which passed the Manpower Development and Training Act. In his State of the Union Address of 1962, President Kennedy explained that this law was meant “to stop the waste of able- bodied men and women who want to work, but whose only skill has been replaced by a machine, moved with a mill, or shut down with a mine.” Two years later, President Johnson convened a National Commission on Technology, Automation, and Economic Progress to assess the economic effects of automation and technological change. But then a funny thing happened. By the time the commission issued its report in 1966, the economy was approaching full employment. Concern about machines supplanting workers abated. The commission was disbanded.

That fear, though, was dormant, not gone. A Time magazine cover from 1980 titled “The Robot Revolution” shows a tentacled automaton strangling human workers. An essay three years later by an MIT economist named Harley Shaiken begins:

As more and more attention is focused on economic recovery, for 11 million people the grim reality is continued unemployment. Against this backdrop the central issue raised by rampant and pervasive technological change is not simply how many people may be displaced in the coming decade but how many who are currently unemployed will never return to the job.

Unemployment, which was approaching 10 percent at the time, then fell by half at decade’s end, and once more the automation problem receded.

Yet there it was again, on the heels of the economic collapse of 2008. An investigation by the Associated Press in 2013 put it this way:

Five years after the start of the Great Recession, the toll is terrifyingly clear: Millions of middle- class jobs have been lost in developed countries the world over.

And the situation is even worse than it appears.

Most of the jobs will never return, and millions more are likely to vanish as well, say experts who study the labor market….

They’re being obliterated by technology.

Year after year, the software that runs computers and an array of other machines and devices becomes more sophisticated and powerful and capable of doing more efficiently tasks that humans have always done. For decades, science fiction warned of a future when we would be architects of our own obsolescence, replaced by our machines; an Associated Press analysis finds that the future has arrived.

Here is what that future—which is to say now—looks like: banking, logistics, surgery, and medical recordkeeping are just a few of the occupations that have already been given over to machines. Manufacturing, which has long been hospitable to mechanization and automation, is becoming more so as the cost of industrial robots drops, especially in relation to the cost of human labor. According to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group, currently the expectation is that machines, which now account for 10 percent of all manufacturing tasks, are likely to perform about 25 percent of them by 2025. (To understand the economics of this transition, one need only consider the American automotive industry, where a human spot welder costs about $25 an hour and a robotic one costs $8. The robot is faster and more accurate, too.) The Boston group expects most of the growth in automation to be concentrated in transportation equipment, computer and electronic products, electrical equipment, and machinery.

Meanwhile, algorithms are writing most corporate reports, analyzing intelligence data for the NSA and CIA, reading mammograms, grading tests, and sniffing out plagiarism. Computers fly planes—Nicholas Carr points out that the average airline pilot is now at the helm of an airplane for about three minutes per flight—and they compose music and pick which pop songs should be recorded based on which chord progressions and riffs were hits in the past. Computers pursue drug development—a robot in the UK named Eve may have just found a new compound to treat malaria—and fill pharmacy vials.

Xerox uses computers—not people—to select which applicants to hire for its call centers. The retail giant Amazon “employs” 15,000 warehouse robots to pull items off the shelf and pack boxes. The self-driving car is being road-tested. A number of hotels are staffed by robotic desk clerks and cleaned by robotic chambermaids. Airports are instituting robotic valet parking. Cynthia Breazeal, the director of MIT’s personal robots group, raised $1 million in six days on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo, and then $25 million in venture capital funding, to bring Jibo, “the world’s first social robot,” to market.

What is a social robot? In the words of John Markoff of The New York Times, “it’s a robot with a little humanity.” It will tell your child bedtime stories, order takeout when you don’t feel like cooking, know you prefer Coke over Pepsi, and snap photos of important life events so you don’t have to step out of the picture. At the other end of the spectrum, machine guns, which automated killing in the nineteenth century, are being supplanted by Lethal Autonomous Robots (LARs) that can operate without human intervention. (By contrast, drones, which fly without an onboard pilot, still require a person at the controls.) All this—and unemployment is now below 6 percent.

Gross unemployment statistics, of course, can be deceptive. They don’t take into account people who have given up looking for work, or people who are underemployed, or those who have had to take pay cuts after losing higher-paying jobs. And they don’t reflect where the jobs are, or what sectors they represent, and which age cohorts are finding employment and which are not. And so while the pattern looks familiar, the worry is that this time around, machines really will undermine the labor force. As former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers wrote in The Wall Street Journal last July:

The economic challenge of the future will not be producing enough. It will be providing enough good jobs…. Today…there are more sectors losing jobs than creating jobs. And the general-purpose aspect of software technology means that even the industries and jobs that it creates are not forever.

To be clear, there are physical robots like Jibo and the machines that assemble our cars, and there are virtual robots, which are the algorithms that undergird the computers that perform countless daily tasks, from driving those cars, to Google searches, to online banking. Both are avatars of automation, and both are altering the nature of work, taking on not only repetitive physical jobs, but intellectual and heretofore exclusively human ones as well. And while both are defining features of what has been called “the second machine age,” what really distinguishes this moment is the speed at which technology is changing and changing society with it. If the “calamity prophets” are finally right, and this time the machines really will win out, this is why. It’s not just that computers seem to be infiltrating every aspect of our lives, it’s that they have infiltrated them and are infiltrating them with breathless rapidity. It’s not just that life seems to have sped up, it’s that it has. And that speed, and that infiltration, appear to have a life of their own.

Just as computer hardware follows Moore’s Law, which says that computing power doubles every eighteen months, so too does computer capacity and functionality. Consider, for instance, the process of legal discovery. As Carr describes it,

computers can [now] parse thousands of pages of digitized documents in seconds. Using e-discovery software with language-analysis algorithms, the machines not only spot relevant words and phrases but also discern chains of events, relationships among people, and even personal emotions and motivations. A single computer can take over the work of dozens of well-paid professionals.

Israel Museum, Jerusalem/Bridgeman Images

‘Bizarre Figures’; etching by Giovanni Battista Bracelli, 1624

Or take the autonomous automobile. It can sense all the vehicles around it, respond to traffic controls and sudden movements, apply the brakes as needed, know when the tires need air, signal a turn, and never get a speeding ticket. Volvo predicts that by 2020 its vehicles will be “crash-free,” but even now there are cars that can park themselves with great precision.

The goal of automating automobile parking, and of automating driving itself, is no different than the goal of automating a factory, or pharmaceutical discovery, or surgery: it’s to rationalize the process, making it more efficient, productive, and cost-effective. What this means is that automation is always going to be more convenient than what came before it—for someone. And while it’s often pitched as being most convenient for the end user—the patient on the operating table, say, or the Amazon shopper, or the Google searcher, in fact the rewards of convenience flow most directly to those who own the automated system (Jeff Bezos, for example, not the Amazon Prime member).

Since replacing human labor with machine labor is not simply the collateral damage of automation but, rather, the point of it, whenever the workforce is subject to automation, technological unemployment, whether short- or long-lived, must follow. The MIT economists Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, who are champions of automation, state this unambiguously when they write:

Even the most beneficial developments have unpleasant consequences that must be managed…. Technological progress is going to leave behind some people, perhaps even a lot of people, as it races ahead.1

Flip this statement around, and what Brynjolfsson and McAfee are also saying is that while technological progress is going to force many people to submit to tightly monitored control of their movements, with their productivity clearly measured, that progress is also going to benefit perhaps just a few as it races ahead. And that, it appears, is what is happening. (Of the fifteen wealthiest Americans, six own digital technology companies, the oldest of which, Microsoft, has been in existence only since 1975. Six others are members of a single family, the Waltons, whose vast retail empire, with its notoriously low wages, has meant that people are much cheaper and more expendable than warehouse robots. Still, Walmart has benefited from an automated point-of-sale system that enables its owners to know precisely what is selling where and when, which in turn allows them to avoid stocking slow-moving items and to tie up less money than the competitors in inventory.)

As Paul Krugman wrote a couple of years ago in The New York Times:

Smart machines may make higher GDP possible, but they will also reduce the demand for people—including smart people. So we could be looking at a society that grows ever richer, but in which all the gains in wealth accrue to whoever owns the robots.

In the United States, real wages have been stagnant for the past four decades, while corporate profits have soared. As of last year, 16 percent of men between eighteen and fifty-four and 30 percent of women in the same age group were not working, and more than a third of those who were unemployed attributed their joblessness to technology. As The Economist reported in early 2014:

Recent research suggests that…substituting capital for labor through automation is increasingly attractive; as a result owners of capital have captured ever more of the world’s income since the 1980s, while the share going to labor has fallen.

There is a certain school of thought, championed primarily by those such as Google’s Larry Page, who stand to make a lot of money from the ongoing digitization and automation of just about everything, that the elimination of jobs concurrent with a rise in productivity will lead to a leisure class freed from work. Leaving aside questions about how these lucky folks will house and feed themselves, the belief that most people would like nothing more than to be able to spend all day in their pajamas watching TV—which turns out to be what many “nonemployed” men do—sorely misconstrues the value of work, even work that might appear to an outsider to be less than fulfilling. Stated simply: work confers identity. When Dublin City University professor Michael Doherty surveyed Irish workers, including those who stocked grocery shelves and drove city buses, to find out if work continues to be “a significant locus of personal identity,” even at a time when employment itself is less secure, he concluded that “the findings of this research can be summed up in the succinct phrase: ‘work matters.’”2

How much it matters may not be quantifiable, but in an essay in The New York Times, Dean Baker, the codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noted that there was

a 50 to 100 percent increase in death rates for older male workers in the years immediately following a job loss, if they previously had been consistently employed.

One reason was suggested in a study by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990), who found, Carr reports, that “people were happier, felt more fulfilled by what they were doing, while they were at work than during their leisure hours.”

Even where automation does not eliminate jobs, it often changes the nature of work. Carr makes a convincing case for the ways in which automation dulls the brain, removing the need to pay attention or master complicated routines or think creatively and react quickly. Those airline pilots who now are at the controls for less than three minutes find themselves spending most of their flight time staring at computer screens while automated systems do the actual flying. As a consequence, their overreliance on automation, and on a tendency to trust computer data even in the face of contradictory physical evidence, can be dangerous. Carr cites a study by Matthew Ebbatson, a human factors researcher, that

found a direct correlation between a pilot’s aptitude at the controls and the amount of time the pilot had spent flying without the aid of automation…. The analysis indicated that “manual flying skills decay quite rapidly towards the fringes of ‘tolerable’ performance without relatively frequent practice.”

Similarly, an FAA report on cockpit automation released in 2013 found that over half of all airplane accidents were the result of the mental autopilot brought on by actual autopilot.

If aviation is a less convincing case, since the overall result of automation has been to make flying safer, consider a more mundane and ubiquitous activity, Internet searches using Google. According to Carr, relying on the Internet for facts and figures is making us mindless sloths. He points to a study in Science that demonstrates that the wealth of information readily available on the Internet disinclines users from remembering what they’ve found out. He also cites an interview with Amit Singhal, Google’s lead search engineer, who states that “the more accurate the machine gets [at predicting search terms], the lazier the questions become.”

A corollary to all this intellectual laziness and dullness is what Carr calls “deskilling”—the loss of abilities and proficiencies as more and more authority is handed over to machines. Doctors who cede authority to machines to read X-rays and make diagnoses, architects who rely increasingly on computer-assisted design (CAD) programs, marketers who place ads based on algorithms, traders who no longer trade—all suffer a diminution of the expertise that comes with experience, or they never gain that experience in the first place. As Carr sees it:

As more skills are built into the machine, it assumes more control over the work, and the worker’s opportunity to engage in and develop deeper talents, such as those involved in interpretation and judgment, dwindles. When automation reaches its highest level, when it takes command of the job, the worker, skillwise, has nowhere to go but down.

Conversely, machines have nowhere to go but up. In Carr’s estimation, “as we grow more reliant on applications and algorithms, we become less capable of acting without their aid…. That makes the software more indispensable still. Automation breeds automation.”

But since automation also produces quicker drug development, safer highways, more accurate medical diagnoses, cheaper material goods, and greater energy efficiency, to name just a few of its obvious benefits, there have been few cautionary voices like Nicholas Carr’s urging us to take stock, especially, of the effects of automation on our very humanness—what makes us who we are as individuals—and on our humanity—what makes us who we are in aggregate. Yet shortly after The Glass Cage was published, a group of more than one hundred Silicon Valley luminaries, led by Tesla’s Elon Musk, and scientists, including the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, issued a call to conscience for those working on automation’s holy grail, artificial intelligence, lest they, in Musk’s words, “summon the demon.” (In Hawking’s estimation, AI could spell the end of the human race as machines evolve faster than people and overtake us.) Their letter is worth quoting at length, because it demonstrates both the hubris of those who are programming our future and the possibility that without some kind of oversight, the golem, not God, might emerge from their machines:

[Artificial intelligence] has yielded remarkable successes in various component tasks such as speech recognition, image classification, autonomous vehicles, machine translation, legged locomotion, and question-answering systems.

As capabilities in these areas and others cross the threshold from laboratory research to economically valuable technologies, a virtuous cycle takes hold whereby even small improvements in performance are worth large sums of money, prompting greater investments in research….

The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.

The progress in AI research makes it timely to focus research not only on making AI more capable, but also on maximizing the societal benefit…. [Until now the field of AI] has focused largely on techniques that are neutral with respect to purpose. We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do.

Just who is this “we” who must ensure that robots, algorithms, and intelligent machines act in the public interest? It is not, as Nicholas Carr suggests it should be, the public. Rather, according to the authors of the research plan that accompanies the letter signed by Musk, Hawking, and the others, making artificial intelligence “robust and beneficial,” like making artificial intelligence itself, is an engineering problem, to be solved by engineers. To be fair, no one but those designing these systems is in a position to build in measures of control and security, but what those measures are, and what they aim to accomplish, is something else again. Indeed, their research plan, for example, looks to “maximize the economic benefits of artificial intelligence while mitigating adverse effects, which could include increased inequality and unemployment.”

The priorities are clear: money first, people second. Or consider this semantic dodge: “If, as some organizations have suggested, autonomous weapons should be banned, is it possible to develop a precise definition of autonomy for this purpose…?” Moreover, the authors acknowledge that “aligning the values of powerful AI systems with our own values and preferences [may be] difficult,” though this might be solved by building “systems that can learn or acquire values at run-time.” However well-meaning, they fail to say what values, or whose, or to recognize that most values are not universal but, rather, culturally and socially constructed, subjective, and inherently biased.

We live in a technophilic age. We love our digital devices and all that they can do for us. We celebrate our Internet billionaires: they show us the way and deliver us to our destiny. We have President Obama, who established the National Robotics Initiative to develop the “next generation of robotics, to advance the capability and usability of such systems and artifacts, and to encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative application areas.” Even so, it is naive to believe that government is competent, let alone in a position, to control the development and deployment of robots, self-generating algorithms, and artificial intelligence. Government has too many constituent parts that have their own, sometimes competing, visions of the technological future. Business, of course, is self-interested and resists regulation. We, the people, are on our own here—though if the AI developers have their way, not for long.

  1. *Carr discusses integrated development environments (IDEs) which programmers use to check their code, and quotes Vivek Haldar, a veteran Google developer: “‘The behavior all these tools encourage is not ‘think deeply about your code and write it carefully,’ but ‘just write a crappy first draft of your code, and then the tools will tell you not just what’s wrong with it, but also how to make it better.’” 
  2. 1The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (Norton, 2014), pp. 10–11. 
  3. 2Michael Doherty, “When the Working Day Is Through: The End of Work As Identity?” Work, Employment and Society, Vol. 23, No. 1 (March 2009). 

What do you need to know about an eclipse?

How is the sun completely blocked in an

Image of moon covering sun in a solar eclipse

In this picture of a solar eclipse, the moon is beginning to move from in front of the sun. Credit: NASA

During a total solar eclipse, the moon passes between Earth and the sun. This completely blocks out the sun’s light. However, the moon is about 400 times smaller than the sun. How can it block all of that light?

It all has to do with the distance between Earth and the sun and Earth and the moon.

an illustration of the moon blocking the sun's light during the August 2017 eclipse

An illustration showing the Earth, moon, and sun during the August 21, 2017 eclipse. Image credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

When objects are closer to us, they appear to be bigger than objects that are far away. For example, most stars in the night sky look like tiny white dots of light. In reality, many of those stars are larger than our sun—they are just much farther away from Earth!

Even though the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, it’s also about 400 times closer to Earth than the sun is. This means that from Earth, the moon and the sun appear to be roughly the same size in the sky.

an illustration showing that the sun and the moon appear to be the same size in the sky, but the moon is much closer to Earth than the sun is

Image credit: NASA

So, when the moon comes between Earth and the sun during a total solar eclipse, the moon appears to completely cover up the light from the sun.

However, it won’t always be this way.

Total solar eclipses won’t be around forever!

The moon’s orbit is changing. In fact, the moon’s orbit grows about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) larger every year. As the moon’s orbit takes it farther and farther away from Earth, the moon will appear smaller and smaller in our sky.

This occasionally happens now. The moon’s orbit isn’t perfectly round. That means that sometimes the moon is slightly farther away from Earth than it is at other times. Sometimes the moon is far enough away that it doesn’t create a total solar eclipse. In this case, the moon obscures most of the sun, but a thin ring of the sun remains visible around the moon.

However, once the moon’s growing orbit takes it approximately 14,600 miles (23,496 km) away from Earth, it will always be too far away to completely cover the sun. That won’t happen for a long time though. If the moon’s orbit grows only 1.5 inches every year, it will take more than 600 million years for total solar eclipses to completely disappear!

article last updated May 22, 2017

Looking For Student Science Leaders

Regeneron Science Talent Search 2018

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The Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS), a program of Society for Science & the Public (Society) is the nation’s most prestigious science research competition for high school seniors.  Since 1942, first in partnership with Westinghouse, then with Intel 1998-2016, and now with Regeneron, the Society has provided a national stage for the country’s best and brightest young scientists to present original research to nationally recognized professional scientists.
The application for the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2018 will open August 1, 2017. To learn more about the Regeneron Science Talent Search, visit

Please complete this form if you would like to be notified about Regeneron Science Talent Search program updates, including the release of the official rules, the launch of the 2018 application, and more.

Going to Mars Here on Earth

Devon island is closer to Ireland than California.   We want high school students in Island to follow this story.  What would it take for a student “Tiger Team” to support this team of explorers?  


Mars 160 Crew Report (#1) | FMARS Mission

[Sunday, July 16, 2017, Devon Island] — A red bi-propeller plane is approaching a brownish hill in the High Arctic. On top of it, sits for 17 years now a tuna can-shaped habitat named the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS). After few low fly-bys, the plane is slowing down, landing 2.5 km from the Hab.

The station is very similar to the Mars Desert Research Station(MDRS), but with different construction so that there is a little more room inside. The upstairs layout is reversed, and the bathroom and toilet spaces are partitioned off together with a little tool room, so there is less open space downstairs. The deck seems a little lower so there is less headroom in the lower deck but more in the loft, which provides room for general storage.

The first half of the Mars 160 crew has landed. The other half of the crew will join them the day after. Landing the crew in two shots… Interesting thoughts for manned mission to Mars!

This was not an easy journey from several aspects. Due to weather and ground conditions, the crew has been stuck for 3 weeks at Resolute Bay.

My role as commander is to make sure that we use efficiently our resources. Time is the most precious of them. Despite our situation in Resolute, the crew stayed active and productive. But I cannot hide the fact that I had strong doubts about the fate of the mission. At some point, after travelling so far, you have to reach your final destination or the mission itself loses its meaning! [Alex]

As the Japanese proverb “isogaba maware” says, meaning “slow and steady wins the race”, I think waiting is always a part of a mission. At least we were closing in to FMARS. So do not lose our presence of mind, do not lose a time to prepare, do not lose a chance if it might happen, were the only things what we could do in Resolute. [Yusuke]

Resolute is a fascinating place, and serves as an analogue for what a Martian settlement of several hundred people could be like. I was able to collect a lot of data in this regard for future use.  The environment is also very interesting, and we were able to use it to familiarise ourselves with conditions on Devon Island and to plan possible future expeditions to Cornwallis Island. [Jon]

Resolute Bay is a beautifully colonized Inuit hamlet, which is also called the window to the North Pole and a place with no dawn. I find an amazing resemblance between the way Resolute is colonised and the future human colonization of Mars. Staying at Resolute and waiting for the right conditions to land at FMARS was uncertain and unanticipated. The mission was getting shorter and it seemed that the science goals were going to be compromised. [Anushree]

Being delayed for so long opened up a lot of uncertainty as to how I would be able to carry out all of the research I had planned for the mission. The delay seemed to have benefits it allowed for extra time for Anastasiya to join us. [Paul]

I didn’t wait as the rest of the crew, instead I was struggling with bureaucracy of Canadian visa centre. I didn’t get my visa twice. The third time I applied with almost no hope, but as Russians say “Bog lubit troecu” (God loves the Trinity). This time it worked out and I got my “golden” visa, packed during night, hit the road next morning, had seven flights and finally saw my crew! I was extremely happy and full of joy to finally make it, to see my Martian family and to continue the work towards mission to FMARS! [Anastasiya]

FMARS… The first Martian like habitat built by The Mars Society in 2000 on the edge of the Haughton crater in Devon Island. The crater is a shallow circular depression 15 km across and 140 m deep. The air is so clear the further rim much closer. It’s the most impressive and Mars like setting of all the analogue stations. You can really imagine a Mars base on the edge of what would be a small crater on Mars. The ground is greyish brown in colour, rocky, composed of dolomite rock (brown) on the rim and the crater fill (grey) on the floor. Freeze-thaw action over the permafrost has worked the rocky ground into polygonal networks of sorted stones. There are networks within networks, the smaller polygons are 1.5 m across, the larger ones, with the largest rocks, are 4-5 m across. The landscape is undulating, a low plain cut by river valleys. Clear, gravel-bed streams fed by snow-melt flow down them. There are many relict snow patches.

Regarding living organisms, there is almost no vegetation, a little moss here and there, a few lichens, and tiny clumps of wild flowers. In wet areas you can find interesting biofilms and hypoliths. There is rare trace of animal activities. But there are fossils – corals, sponges, and nautiloids – everywhere.

Now the crew has arrived and settled. One could expect a lot of excitement and joy. But there their feelings are much more diverse and nuanced.

I feel relieved. Being able to have started my research this week and getting my monitoring equipment installed and running has made me much more relaxed and able to think more critically about the rest of the work I need to do, as well as meeting the goals of the simulation. [Paul]

When my crewmates showed me the aerial view of the habitat, I was emotional. I felt this urge to be in the habitat now. Our small habitat located on the top of the planet, totally oblivious to the rest of the world. I couldn’t stop smiling. So, how do I feel now? Obviously great… no more philosophy. [Anushree]

The feelings are diverse. Excitement to start new chapter in life at such a unique place and with my Martian family. Confusion to understand that I am here and not at MDRS. Sadness to miss crew members, who couldn’t make it. Curiosity to see the discoveries of our science research. Anticipation to get the results of our projects. [Anastasiya]

I love this place! Haughton crater is amazing. Some aspects of the station like the ladders between levels, are a source of frustration.[Jon]

Not very excited as I anticipated. I don’t know why for sure. I guess because our mission had already began when we arrived at Resolute for me. Now it is a time to take a step forward solemnly and silently. [Yusuke]

With the straining days we spent so far, I did not have too much the liberty to feel anything. For me it is mostly, stacking all the tasks, delegate and synchronize the crew to work properly and efficiently. But I have noticed that during few minutes during the day I manage to escape from my thoughts and worries. When that happens, I feel amazed to have reached a great Mars analogue on Earth. [Alex]

The Mars 160 program is two separate expeditions. The first occurred last fall at MDRS. FMARS expedition is the final chapter of the program. It will be over soon. The main goal of these expeditions is science operations. It includes what field science can be conducted on each site but also how remote and crew scientists cooperate with each other. As the mission is shortened by the delay induced by the earlier conditions, the expectations had to be reviewed in order to match the new time constraints.

For this mission, I was appointed as a scientist going to be based on Mars principally to execute the vision of scientists based on Earth. For me, this association has been the most fascinating part of my sojourn for Mars 160 expeditions. Considering the extreme remoteness and less resource, I expect this mission to be more productive for testing the asynchronous communication and coordination between the remote science team and me to conduct field science.

I believe FMARS is a vantage point to access various Martian polar regions features at one place: an ancient impact crater which once contained lake analogous to the Gale crater on Mars, geological features of hydrothermal origin, periglacial patterned ground, impact-induced hydrothermal evaporite deposits, the day-night cycle, and total isolation.

The delay in the mission, would of course narrow the chances of scouting the area, thereby, would restrict sampling events. However, with appropriate planning and coordination among the crew, I expect to meet the goals set by our remote science team.[Anushree]

I will not be able to get the data I originally wanted on the crater floor. This is only partly due to the delay and mostly related to prevailing mud along ATV routes, but this is a factor out of our control. As a result of the condensed time and modified research goals, I will have more to do and fewer EVA’s to do them.

My research is focused on cataloguing the different types of patterned ground around Haughton Crater and gaining a better understanding of how these permafrost features form and evolve over time. Similar features have been observed on Mars, so understanding how they form on Earth can yield insights into how they form elsewhere in the solar system. [Paul]

My expectations of the mission are that we will have a safe and enjoyable time that will colour our reflections for the rest of our lives. I expect us to all be able to collect material we can use in different areas later on, be in media stories, published research, lectures, or ideas for design work on Mars technology and architecture.

I will be focusing on three areas: 1) studying facies in the limestones of the Silurian Allen Bay Formation that the Haughton Impact structure has been excavated into, 2) classifying and mapping, regolith landforms of a polar Mars analogue, and 3) collecting operation data on daily scheduling, time management, EVA capabilities during a simulated Mars surface stay.  Only the third will be significantly impacted by having a shorter period to collect data.  However, when used in conjunction with the data from the first phase of the expedition in Utah I expect to have more than enough to draw useful conclusions. [Jon]

I expect to return safe and sound, live peacefully, enjoy this moment with my crew mate. I am looking forward to be a dependable crew as my ideal role on Antarctica (JARE), who can take care of a thankless job.

Arctic is not as easy as we suppose it to be. It is inevitable that the field science projects take the priority over other projects such as mine. That’s alright. So, I either cross out some of my personal projects or find a way to collaborate with other projects.

I will focus on 3D archives. Basically this idea is coming from architectural 3 dimensional aspects. People have to decipher Mars appearances by 2D information. How we could convert 3D Mars data into 2D transportable data by easy, simple, quick, convenient, inexpensive ways in terms of a human centred design to support field research specialists on Mars? I will try few things such as anaglyph 3D picture of some field site or 360 degrees high resolution photo. [Yusuke]

As I always say, set the high goals, because they will help you to grow in many ways! The experience of first Mars 160 expedition helped me to grow as a person, gain diverse skills and showed new view of our controversial world. From FMARS I expect not the less, the harsh environment and even more limited resources than at MDRS will require new levels of creativity, stamina and hard work.

I’m coordinator of psychological studies by Institute of Biomedical Problems (Russia) and the more time crew spends in extreme environment and isolation, the more valuable data IBMP can receive. Fortunately, these tests do not interact with the field science activities, so my work is in lesser extent affected than theirs by the delay. [Anastasiya]

The earlier delay is unfortunate. Mars analogue field science is something very particular: a scientist on Earth would take samples and bring them back to the Lab for further analysis while on Mars you would probably conduct preliminary analysis of the samples before deciding which one to bring back to Earth and which one to dispose of. The new time constraints will not allow our crew scientists to conduct too much analysis, if any. They will have to rely on their eye ball judgment and intuition. Something a robot could not do. The outcome of this expedition will be interesting in that regard.

To support the science activities, I will not conduct my technological project about the spacesuit user interface. Also, I cannot afford that one of the scientists (Anushree, Jon or Paul) take the role of the shotgun carrier (bear protection) during EVAs. So I will assume most of this role during our stay at FMARS.

This crew is very dedicated to the mission and I am very confident that our limited time here will be spent wisely. I also like to think that from our misfortune delay, lessons will be learnt and used for future crews. [Alex]

A full report about the Mars 160 mission at FMARS will be presented at the 20th Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for September 7-10,  2017 at the University of California Irvine. For more details, please visit our web site:

Comment: Bob Barboza will be presenting about “Mars Tiger Teams” at the Mars Society Convention, September 7-10, 2017.