NewsBrief February 26, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: February 26, 2021

GAO: DOD has to get a handle on future services spending

(FCW) As the Defense Department looks to buy more services, it’s going to need to come up with action plans to better account for spending in future years, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. Timothy DiNapoli, GAO’s director for contracting and national security acquisitions, wrote in a report to Congress that while DOD has identified areas to improve, it has yet to develop clear plans that manage spending services acquisitions over future fiscal years. “DOD’s October 2020 report discusses the actions DOD has taken, or intends to take, to improve its management of service acquisitions, including actions to address many of the issues we have identified in our past work,” the Feb. 22 report states. Read More

Air Force Research Laboratory wants to add more Vanguard programs

(C4ISRNET) WASHINGTON — The Air Force Research Laboratory wants to add more Vanguard programs in the coming year while accelerating development of its existing programs, said AFRL Commander Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle. The AFRL’s Vanguard programs target transformational science and technology components and integrated systems that can demonstrate leap-ahead capabilities. The three ongoing Vanguard efforts are Navigation Technology Satellite-3, Skyborg and Golden Horde. NTS-3 is an experimental position, navigation and timing satellite that will inform the design of future GPS satellites while providing additional capabilities to the war fighter on orbit. Read More

Defense Department Launches $2 Million Aerospace Research and Education Center of Excellence at Tuskegee University

(U.S. Dept of Defense) The Department of Defense (DOD), through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), has launched the DOD Aerospace Education Research and Innovation Center (AERIC) at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Awarded through the DOD historically Black college and university (HBCU) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) Research and Education Program, AERIC will support undergraduate research in materials and aerospace sciences relevant to DOD and the aerospace industry. AERIC is a congressional add funded at $2 million which was sponsored by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense. Read More

Pentagon Pursues 5G Applications for Space

(Nextgov) The U.S. military moved to explore next-generation networking capabilities and tools that could advance how it moves vast volumes of data on and beyond planet Earth. Space Force officials and others in the Air Force office responsible for enterprise data transport intend to tap “rapidly emerging 5G technologies to support space data transport terrestrially, in space, and in the space-ground links,” according to a request for information published by the latter Thursday. “Any aspect of 5G applied to any aspect of space systems is of potential interest,” the document noted. Read More

Machine learning speeding up patent classifications at USPTO

(fedscoop) Machine learning is helping the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shorten the time it takes to assign patent applications to examiners, instead of having to redo its entire classification process, according to CIO Jamie Holcombe. USPTO sent its top engineers to Google on the East and West coasts to learn more about ML and TensorFlow application programming interfaces. Now those engineers are using Python with TensorFlow to apply ML to patent classification, search and quality. “We immersed them in the culture, and they got Googly,” Holcombe said during an ACT-IAC event Wednesday. “They got certified in TensorFlow, which is the open-source library for a lot of neural network feedback loops.” Read More

Rule-Based AI vs. Machine Learning for Development – Which is Best?

(aitrends) AI is not tossing out all the rules and methods of software development learned over the last 50 years, just many of them. Rule-based AI systems borrow from rule-based expert system development, which tapped the knowledge of human experts to solve complex problems by reasoning through bodies of knowledge. Expert systems emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. The knowledge would be represented through if-then-else rules rather than procedural code. Expert systems were considered successful forms of early AI. Read More

The Challenges of Presenting Pandemic Data

(MITSloan) A pandemic demands that leaders make informed judgments about when to close, reopen, and, when necessary, reclose struggling economies. Managers must grapple with decisions such as whether they should bring workers back onsite, resume business travel, and welcome the return of retail shoppers. Although the success of any policy ultimately hinges upon whether individuals adhere to these protocols, the potential toll of a virus on employees, customers, and businesses means that accurate forecasting is essential. Forecasting guides planning, and forecasts rely on data. Modern pandemic data is inherently a time series of points that represent, say, the unfolding number of cases over time. Read More

NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Provides Front-Row Seat to Landing, First Audio Recording of Red Planet

(NASA) New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted, and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars. From the moment of parachute inflation, the camera system covers the entirety of the descent process, showing some of the rover’s intense ride to Mars’ Jezero Crater. The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft starts 7 miles (11 kilometers) above the surface, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world, and ends with the rover’s touchdown in the crater. Read More

Martian dust storms may spark electric purple glow

( From its new home on the Red Planet, NASA’s Perseverance rover may soon have a front-row view of an otherworldly light show. When the next seasonal dust storm passes through Jezero crater (where the rover landed on Feb. 18), the air around the rover could crackle and glow with purple light from the collision of statically charged dust particles, a new study suggests. These colorful sparks would almost certainly be too small and weak to pose a threat to Perseverance, or to any hypothetical humans who alight on Mars in the future, said lead study author Joshua Méndez Harper, a geologist from the University of Oregon. Read More

NASA to Honor ‘Hidden Figure’ Mary W. Jackson During Headquarters Naming Ceremony

(NASA) Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk will lead a ceremony at 1 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 26, officially naming the NASA Headquarters building in Washington in honor of Mary W. Jackson. The event will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website and will livestream on the agency’s Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, as well as the NASA app. Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA, began her career with the agency in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Read More