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*** NOVEMBER 2006 ***

NASA today announced an opportunity for university students to work with NASA engineers to conceive, design, fabricate and test a radio-controlled aircraft capable of taking off and landing while carrying a maximum load of cargo.
Students will develop their aircraft and compete for the new NASA Systems Engineering Award as part of the Aero Design competition,
made possible through a partnership between NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and SAE International. Students competing for the award will receive e-mail feedback from NASA engineers who will review the students' work at two critical points
during the design and development of their aircraft.
"The purpose of this new award is to engage students in the systems engineering process," explained Deborah Bazar, a project manager in the Education Division at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "NASA wants to expose more of today's engineering students to systems engineering concepts and practice, which is integral to industry and research in today's world," she added...

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) recently marked its 30-year anniversary. The confidential
reporting system is widely used by pilots and other airline employees to identify potential safety hazards.
Established in 1975 under a memorandum of understanding between NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the system collects, analyzes and responds to voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident reports to reduce aviation accidents and improve safety. The confidential reports are also used to identify deficiencies and discrepancies in the National Aviation System that need to be remedied.
"Since the implementation of the Aviation Safety Reporting System in 1976, more than 474,000 reports have been submitted by pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, flight attendants and other airline personnel," said Linda Connell, director of the ASRS. The system is located at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "Many of those reports have had a direct impact on making the nation's airways safer, and we're extremely proud of that safety record."...

A team led by NASA and U.S. Forest Service scientists recently collected real-time, visible and infrared data from sensors onboard a remotely piloted aircraft over the Esperanza Fire in Southern California.
The Esperanza Fire, an arson-set fire that claimed the lives of five firefighters, ignited on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006. Whipped by powerful Santa Ana winds, it spread over 40,200 acres, or roughly 62 square miles, destroying 34 homes and 20 other structures.
The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the Esperanza Fire Incident Command Center requested NASA's imaging and fire mapping assistance. The Altair Unmanned Aircraft System, built and operated by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., San Diego, Calif., was prepared to fly in less than 24 hours. The flight was facilitated by the Federal Aviation Administration, which assures the safety of unmanned aircraft system flights in the National Airspace System. Recent changes to the FAA's organizational structure allowed the approval to be expedited, while ensuring no degradation of safety and without imposing any new temporary flight restrictions...

Some of NASA's most spectacular science and engineering achievements enabled by the agency's high-end computing resources will be
showcased at Supercomputing 2006 (SC06), the International Conference for High-Performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Analysis at Tampa's Convention Center...
This year's conference, drawing its inspiration from Albert Einstein, who said, "Computers are incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate, and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination," is expected to attract more than 10,000 participants from around the globe, representing industry, academia, and government agencies.
"Experience throughout the agency has shown that high-end computing resources are essential to helping meet NASA mission goals. We are excited to be showing some high-impact science and engineering results generated on NASA's high-end computing systems, including the Columbia supercomputer-one of the world's largest, most capable production supercomputers," said Rupak Biswas, chief of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. According to Biswas, Columbia will
surpass the delivery of 100-million production processor-hours later this year. "Results such as the development of a new launch vehicle,
which will send astronauts into space, and the simulation and visualization of gravitational waves produced by two colliding black holes will be highlighted."...

NASA and SETI Explorers Search for Planetary Evolution Clues on Earth
To go where few people have gone before, a team of expert scientists, mountain-climbers, and divers will explore the ecosystems of three
high-altitude summit lakes to understand microbial life's adaptation to these challenging environments.
Exploring new frontiers on Earth, the 15-member team will climb three giant volcanoes of the Andes and their summit lakes: Licancabur at
19,813 feet (6004 m), Poquentica at 19,192 feet (5850 m), and Aguas Calientes at 19,635 feet (5950 m), in Bolivia and Chile. They will be going where the atmosphere is thin, ultraviolet radiation intense, and the temperatures cold, which make these environmental conditions
potential analogs to ancient martian lakes. The High Lakes Project, funded by a grant from the NASA Astrobiology Institute to the SETI
Institute, Mountain View, Calif., is a collaborative effort to investigate extreme lakes at the summit of high volcanoes and collect new knowledge about the biosphere of our own planet, the evolution of life and its adaptation to climate changes...
"What is critical for life is how environmental extremes interact with each other through time, and the time they give life to adapt," said Nathalie Cabrol, the expedition's lead and principal investigator at the SETI Institute who works at NASA Ames Research Center, in California's Silicon Valley. "Time may be just what is needed for life to survive environmental changes. This is true on Earth and could have been true as well on Mars, and beyond."...