Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spacecraft With UC San Diego-manned Cameras Shoots Its First Video of the Far Side of the Moon

NASA's GRAIL spacecraft has shot its first video of the Far Side of the Moon, which the agency released today. The two spacecraft, which have recently been named Ebb and Flow, are equipped with cameras that will be manned by UC San Diego undergraduates, many of them engineering students.

The cameras will allow middle school classrooms to request pictures of the surface of the moon. The requests will come to a mission command center at UC San Diego. The undergraduates will communicate with NASA's mission control and make sure the cameras take the requested pictures. The mission will being in March of this year and last until May.

To get a better understanding of what you're seeing in the video, read the NASA press release here.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission isn't just about science outreach. It will measure the gravity of the Earth's satellite in unprecedented detail, according to NASA. It also will answer questions about the moon's internal structure.

The MoonKAM project is led by Sally Ride Science, in collaboration with undergraduates at UC San Diego.
Find out more about MoonKAM here.

CSE Prof. Stefan Savage Quoted on Car Electronic Safety in MIT Tech Review, Bloomberg

Car thieves could exploit security weaknesses to remotely open and start a car, or a spy could listen to conversations inside a car, Stefan Savage, a professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering, told Bloomberg this week.

Savage was quoted as part of a story about a report from the National Academy of Sciences, detailing concerns that computers designed for entertainment could help highjack a vehicle's safety features.

"That has Hollywood action movie written all over it," Savage said in another story in the MIT Technology Review.

He and colleagues at the University of Washington authored a 2010 study showing that they could take control of a car, its locks and its brakes. They could even kill the vehicle's engine.

In response to these concerns, General Motors' OnStar division, which provides remote roadside assistance, increased its security budget almost tenfold in the past year, according to the MIT Tech Review story.