NewsBrief January 15, 2021

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Cost Estimating NewsBrief: January 15, 2021

NASA, Government of Japan Formalize Gateway Partnership for Artemis Program

(NASA) NASA and the Government of Japan have finalized an agreement for the lunar Gateway, an orbiting outpost that commercial and international partners will build together. This agreement strengthens the broad effort by the United States to engage international partners in sustainable lunar exploration as part of the Artemis program and to demonstrate the technologies needed for human missions to Mars. Under this agreement, Japan will provide several capabilities for the Gateway’s International Habitation module (I-Hab), which will provide the heart of Gateway life support capabilities and additional space where crew will live, work, and conduct research during Artemis missions. Read More

Intelligence community’s three A’s of digital transformation: Augmentation, AI and automation

(Federal News Network) Digital transformation is on everyone’s minds across the federal government. For the intelligence community more specifically, agencies want to stay on top of artificial intelligence, machine learning and biometrics development. For John Beieler, the director of Science and Technology for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, that means making sure agencies such as the CIA, National Security Agency and Energy and State departments invest their dollars in S&T capabilities. And from there, close any gaps from one agency’s mission to the next – and scan the horizon for future applications. Read More

White House Launches ‘Central Hub’ for Artificial Intelligence Research and Policymaking

(Nextgov) The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Tuesday announced its formation of a new federal nucleus to centrally drive cooperation between the government’s diverse internal and external partners advancing artificial intelligence-rooted policies and research: the National AI Initiative Office. Established in the final days of President Donald Trump’s term, this AI move is the latest of multiple others set in motion by his administration. As the office’s name suggests, it also sprung from the National AI Initiative Act, which was recently enacted as a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2021. Read More

Three critical steps to fast-track agency digital transformation, data management

(Federal News Network) Suppose you’re a scientist with the Food and Drug Administration reviewing data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine, a NASA analyst processing data from the International Space Station, or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist processing weather modelling for developing tropical storms/hurricanes. Over the last several months, employees like these from across the government are performing their work from home while the data at the heart of that work still lives in the onsite data center. Clogged virtual private networks and home bandwidth issues can slow productivity and frustrate users. Read More

The Army has built the largest facial recognition database of thermal images

(fedscoop) The Army has built the largest public dataset in the world of thermal images of faces — a major step in expanding the technology’s ability to identify people in the cover of darkness using artificial intelligence. The service announced the creation of the Army Research Laboratory Visible-Thermal Face Dataset in a recent research paper. The dataset has more than half-a-million images of 395 subjects. “This dataset is, to the best of our knowledge, the largest thermal face dataset publicly available for scientific research to date,” stated a paper from the Army Research Lab, which partners with West Virginia University, Booz Allen Hamilton, Johns Hopkins and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the project. Read More

Reports had warned about supply chain hacks

(C4ISRNET) WASHINGTON – Twice in the last four years, the national security community warned that hacks through IT suppliers posed grave threats to defense and intelligence agencies. Last month, those warnings proved prescient after suspected Russian hackers infiltrated federal agencies through a contractor’s software. While intelligence officials said Jan. 5 the hack is an espionage campaign, confirming Russia as the likely source, the two recent reports alerted the community that hackers could disrupt weapons systems by attacking through the supply chain. Those reports suggested the Pentagon must quickly develop methods to reduce risk from its suppliers. Read More

Counter Intelligence Chief Calls for Zero-Trust Software Supply Chain Policy

(Nextgov) In the wake of the SolarWinds hack, a lead intelligence official said the vulnerability software presents to critical infrastructure will only grow and pushed for more government scrutiny of such products. “I think we have to be able to be in a position, and be willing to have a supply chain risk mitigation program that really is around zero trust,” said William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, noting the need for an “understanding of who provides your services, where they get them from and actually how they get them, and how does that fit in the ecosystem of the food chain for IT services.” Read More

Organizing for the future: Nine keys to becoming a future-ready company

(McKinsey & Company) The prospect of successful vaccines for COVID-19 has given business leaders everywhere hope that the pandemic may be finally nearing a turning point. And not a second too soon: the organizational adrenaline that helped many companies get things done quickly and well during the pandemic’s early days has, in many cases, been replaced by fatigue. Yet even as leaders take action to reenergize their people and organizations, the most forward looking see a larger opportunity—the chance to build on pandemic-related accomplishments and reexamine (or even reimagine) the organization’s identity, how it works, and how it grows. Read More

NASA TV to Air Hot Fire Test of Rocket Core Stage for Artemis Moon Missions

(NASA) NASA is targeting a two-hour test window that opens at 5 p.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 16, for the hot fire test of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Live coverage will begin at 4:20 p.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, followed by a post-test briefing approximately two hours after the test concludes. Read More

It’s really there! Kepler space telescope’s 2nd-ever exoplanet candidate finally confirmed.

( A newfound exoplanet is a real blast from the past. Astronomers just confirmed the existence of KOI-5Ab, which was first flagged as a potential planet by NASA’s pioneering Kepler space telescope way back in 2009. The elusive alien world was the second “candidate” ever identified by Kepler, which hunted for planets on two different missions from 2009 through 2018. Kepler used the “transit method,” spotting the telltale brightness dips caused when alien worlds crossed their host stars’ faces from the spacecraft’s perspective. Read More