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Space telescope named after ‘Mother of Hubble’

The telescope formerly known as WFIRST has a new name that honors Nancy Grace Roman, who served as NASA’s first chief astronomer and came to be known as the “Mother of Hubble.”

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Astronaut lands after setting a record for women

NASA astronaut Christina Koch struck a joyful note today after finishing up 328 days in space aboard the International Space Station, a stay that has gone into the history books as the longest spaceflight made by a woman.

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A new endurance record for women in space

Christina Koch
NASA’s Christina Koch has been aboard the International Space Station since March. (NASA Photo)

Every day for the next six weeks, NASA astronaut Christina Koch will be setting a new women’s record for continuous time in space.

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First all-female spacewalk team aces repairs

Spacewalker at work
NASA astronaut Christina Koch floats on the end of the International Space Station’s robotic arm during a spacewalk. (NASA via YouTube)

For the first time in history, two women teamed up today for a spacewalk.

NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir began the operation to fix a faulty electrical power system on the International Space Station at 7:38 a.m. ET (4:38 a.m. PT)  — setting a new precedent in the process.

During a break in the action, the spacewalkers took a congratulatory phone call from the White House.

“You’re brave people — I don’t think I want to do it, I must tell you that. But you are amazing people,” President Donald Trump told the pair.

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How long will men dominate computer science?

AI2 office
Semantic Scholar was pioneered at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. (AI2 Photo)

Today it’s mostly a man’s world in computer science — and a tally of the authors behind nearly 3 million research papers in the field suggests that could be the case for the rest of the 21st century.

The findings, reported by researchers at Seattle’s Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, point to how far the scientific community still has to go when it comes to gender equality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

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All-female spacewalk nixed due to spacesuit switch

Spacewalkers
NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Anne McClain swap batteries during a spacewalk. (NASA Photo)

History’s first all-female spacewalk will have to wait for another time after NASA switched the lineup for two upcoming extravehicular outings at the International Space Station.

NASA had planned to have astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch go out together on Friday to upgrade a set of batteries for the station’s solar arrays. But today the space agency said it was assigning Koch and crewmate Nick Hague to that spacewalk. McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques are tentatively scheduled to perform a follow-up spacewalk on April 8.

The reason has to do with spacesuit sizes: During her first-ever spacewalk on March 22, McClain learned that a medium-size hard upper torso was the best fit for her. But only one medium-size torso could be made ready for Friday’s outing, and NASA decided that Koch should wear it.

That left Hague as NASA’s preferred candidate to accompany Koch, wearing a spacesuit of a different size.

Having two women handle a spacewalk would have been a first. Women have been doing spacewalks since 1984, but always in the company of men.

The fact that the lineup was revised due to a sizing issue irked some folks.

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What to do about sexual harassment in science

Sexual harassment
A newly published report from the National Academies highlights the issue of sexual harassment in scientific and technical fields. (National Academies Press Graphic)

A newly published report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine calls for dramatic steps to curb sexual harassment in scientific and technical fields.

The report cites a University of Texas survey suggesting that about 20 percent of female science students, more than a quarter of female engineering students and more than 40 percent of female medical students have experienced sexual harassment from faculty or staff.

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Saffron nears finish line for Women’s Safety XPRIZE

Saffron device
Saffron’s emergency alert device is about the size of a half-dollar, and designed to be clipped onto a bra or a waistband. (Saffron Photo)

Students representing the Global Innovation Exchange are nearing the finish line in a competition to create wearable sensors that can send wireless alerts in threatening situations — even if the person wearing the sensor is bound and gagged.

The $1 million Naveen & Anu Jain Women’s Safety XPRIZE — backed by Seattle-area entrepreneur Naveen Jain and his wife, Anu Jain — focuses on the issues of sexual harassment and violence against women.

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Barbie dolls honor NASA pioneer and other women

Katherine Johnson as Barbie doll
NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson is immortalized as a Barbie doll. (Mattel Photo)

“Hidden Figures” mathematician Katherine Johnson may have missed out on the Lego toy treatment, but she and 16 other women are getting the Barbie doll treatment just in time for International Women’s Day.

Today Mattel announced that it’s rolling out 17 new Barbie dolls — including 14 one-of-a-kind dolls that are styled after modern-day role models for its “Shero” program (a mashup of “she” and “hero”), plus a new line called “Inspiring Women” that pays tribute to historical role models.

Johnson, a 99-year-old black mathematician whose work at NASA was featured in the hit movie “Hidden Figures,” is included as one of the Inspiring Women, along with Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and pioneering American aviatrix Amelia Earhart.

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Lego shows off ‘Women of NASA’ toy set

'Women of NASA' Lego set
Lego’s “Women of NASA” set of minifigures includes Margaret Hamilton, Nancy Grace Roman, Sally Ride and Mae Jemison — but not Katherine Johnson, who was featured in “Hidden Figures.” (Lego Photo)

Seven and a half months after its selection, Lego unveiled a set of minifigures celebrating NASA women researchers and explorers, due to go on sale just in time for the holiday season.

The toy set follows up on a suggestion from science writer Maia Weinstock, but one of Weinstock’s nominees wasn’t included: NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose life story figures prominently in the Oscar-nominated movie “Hidden Figures” and the book on which it was based.

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