Monday, August 24, 2015

Cameras Delivered for NASA’s Mission

Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:45 PM
Cameras Delivered for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission as Launch Prep Continues
The first U.S. mission to return samples of an asteroid to Earth is another step closer to its fall 2016 launch, with the delivery of three cameras that will image and map the giant space rock.
A camera suite that will allow NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission to see a near-Earth asteroid, map it, and pick a safe and interesting place to touch the surface and collect a sample, has arrived at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver for installation to the spacecraft.
“This is another major step in preparing for our mission,” said Mike Donnelly, OSIRIS-REx project manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “With the delivery of the camera suite to the spacecraft contractor, we will have our full complement of cameras and spectrometers.”

The OSIRIS-REx mission is scheduled to launch in September 2016 to study Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid that’s about one-third of a mile (approximately 500 meters) across. After rendezvousing with Bennu in 2018, the spacecraft will survey the asteroid, obtain a sample, and return it to Earth in 2023.
The University of Arizona’s camera suite, OCAMS, sits on a test 
bench that mimics its arrangement on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. 
The three cameras that compose the instrument–MapCam (left), 
PolyCam and SamCam – are the eyes of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx 
mission. They will map the asteroid Bennu, help choose a sample 
site, and ensure that the sample is correctly stowed on 
the spacecraft.
Credits: University of Arizona/Symeon Platts
The three camera instrument suite, known as OCAMS (OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite), was designed and built by the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. The largest of the three cameras, PolyCam, is a small telescope that will acquire the first images of Bennu from a distance of 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometers) and provide high resolution imaging of the sample site. MapCam will search for satellites and dust plumes around Bennu, map the asteroid in color, and provide images to construct topographic maps. SamCam will document the sample acquisition event and the collected sample. 
“PolyCam, MapCam and SamCam will be our mission’s eyes at Bennu,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “OCAMS will provide the imagery we need to complete our mission while the spacecraft is at the asteroid.”
OSIRIS-REx is the first U.S. mission to sample an asteroid, and will return the largest sample from space since the Apollo lunar missions. Scientists expect that Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of water and organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth. OSIRIS-REx’s investigation will inform future efforts to develop a mission to mitigate an impact, should one be required.
"The most important goal of these cameras is to maximize our ability to successfully return a sample,” said OCAMS instrument scientist Bashar Rizk from the University of Arizona, Tucson. “Our mission requires a lot of activities during one trip – navigation, mapping, reconnaissance, sample site selection, and sampling.  While we are there, we need the ability to continuously see what is happening around the asteroid in order to make real-time decisions."

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

NEPAL:Nepal government should reach out to rural areas

Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 7:47 PM
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of human lives in Nepal. It is a moment of unprecedented tragedy; the devastation of human lives and property is heartbreaking. This is again a testing time for the Nepal government.
The series of aftershocks have created an environment of fear. Even people whose houses suffered only small cracks or are fully intact are worried about entering their houses. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced under the open sky without food and water. Those who are from outside Kathmandu have already left for their villages or are in the process of leaving. This is due to fear of aftershocks and the increasing risk of epidemic. There is shortage of water in the Kathmandu Valley. The risk of contaminated water beginning to circulate is real; the result will be diseases like cholera and dysentery.
The bodies still buried under the rubble, increase the likelihood of diseases and illnesses spreading. If bodies are not cleared soon, Nepal is going to face a grave health crisis and this will be more dangerous than the earthquake that hit the country on Saturday, 25 April. It is imperative that the dead and decaying bodies lying in villages and corridors of homes in villages are taken care of at the earliest. 

Rescuers have just begun to arrive in some of the worst hit villages in Gorkha, Dhading, Sindhupalchok, Kavre, and Nuwakot districts. Scores of settlements have been cut off from transportation and telecommunication services following the earthquake. The injured have not received treatment even six days after the disaster, while the displaced have been compelled to suffer, hungry under the open sky.
There is already outrage at the non-performance of the government. Some of this outrage may be genuine, because a lot of people in Kathmandu are facing immense hardship and they see no signs of the government making efforts to provide relief. The government has been slow in distributing relief packages and in reaching out to people outside Kathmandu. Given the scale and intensity of Saturday’s quake, the State’s ineffectiveness has never been more apparent.
Due of lack of efficiency in management, the government has been in a complaint mode, and has been asking foreign nations and international organizations to request permission before arriving with aid and personnel. Instead of demanding permission, the government of Nepal should be proactive enough to deploy them to earthquake affected areas outside the Kathmandu Valley where the dead have started decaying and those alive have started dying waiting for rescue and relief packages, including masks, water, food, and tents.
The rest of Nepal, outside the Valley, is where the problems, post-earthquake, are most pressing; little attention has been given to the conditions of marginalized Nepalese, who need to be helped the most immediately. Therefore, the AHRC requests the Nepal government to support aid organizations that are focusing on rural areas. Furthermore the AHRC asks that the government dedicate its relief efforts and financial support to specific causes targeting the marginalized communities and to organizations that have an on-going long-term commitment.
This is a testing moment for all countries that are providing assistance. This is a moment to show solidarity. Therefore, the AHRC appeals to all parties to engage in relief and rescue activities in the rural areas, where the visibility is low but the needs are most.
The AHRC also appeals to people of Nepal to show national solidarity and resilience; helping each other during this time of crisis is what the nation needs. The crisis will be over soon, and Nepal will stand up and rise again. The only thing required is courage and motivation.
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About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Relief work by RAMT

Rapid Action Medical Team helping actively
The Indian Air Force (IAF) Rapid Action Medical Team (RAMT) equipped with necessary medical aid sent to earthquake hit Nepal, seen after landing at Kathmandu Airport. (PIB)  29-April-2015

Monday, July 14, 2014

Face of Defense: Soldier Born in Senegal Returns for Exercise

Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 6:01 PM
"I actually enjoy doing my job" 
By Army Sgt. Takita Lawery
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division

Army Spc. Lassana Traore, right, translates during a conversation between Army Pfc. Cody Anderson, center, and a Senegalese soldier during exercise Western Accord 14 at Camp Thies, Senegal, June 25, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Takita Lawery 
THIES, Senegal, July 14, 2014 - After joining the U.S. Army two years ago, Spc. Lassana Traore, a food service specialist with 1st Infantry Division's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, couldn't have imagined he would find himself back in his native land of Senegal as an Army translator for Exercise Western Accord 14.
"It is a great learning experience for him to be serving his native country and the U.S. Army," Wingfield said. "I think he will gain a lot of knowledge from interacting with both nations simultaneously during the exercise."Staff Sgt. Murquitte Wingfield, food service noncommissioned officer in charge, Company E, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, said Traore's a "super soldier" who is always motivated to do more than what is asked or expected of him.
Traore grew-up in Pikine, a small city outside of Dakar, Senegal, with his parents, four brothers and three sisters. He graduated from Seydou Nourou Tall, a multigrade school, in 2000. Following an injury to his leg that stopped him from playing professional soccer, Traore said, he decided to travel to France to attend college and study business management.
He later traveled to Italy to help in running his father's fishing company, and it was there where he met his wife, who also serves in the Army.
Traore joined the Army in 2012, and chose to be a cook because choices were limited for him at the time.
"I actually enjoy doing my job," he added. "And now, I am happy to be here, because I can serve both my countries at the same time."
Traore's duties during the exercise were limited at first to the food service team. But things quickly changed when his unit hit the ground in Senegal. In addition to working in the dining facility, he soon was translating for various African nations throughout Camp Thies.
The 32-year-old said helping soldiers to overcome language barriers has been one of his favorite parts of Western Accord 14 was. Knowing he helped soldiers better comprehend the training they received so they could apply it to what they already knew was what he enjoyed most about the experience, he added.
Infantry parachutist Sgt. Birame Faye of the Senegalese army concurred.
"It is easier for us to understand Traore, rather than civilian translators, because he is in the U.S. Army and he knows how to explain their tactics better," Faye said.
Traore said he has appreciated playing a major role in the exercise and wants to continue serving in any way he can.
"I plan to retire out of the U.S. Army, because it's a great organization and it provides people with great opportunities to do whatever they put their minds to," he said.
Related Sites:
U.S. Army Africa
4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
U.S. Africa Command
Special Report: U.S. Africa Command

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Face of Defense: Father, Daughter Share Afghanistan Deployment

Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 6:59 PM
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Buzzell, left, and her father, Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Trujillo, pose for a photograph at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, July 1, 2014. Both are assigned to Task Force Signal and deployed from the Air National Guard's 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron in South Portland, Maine. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez 
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AfghanistanJuly 8, 2014 - (AFPS):  The military becomes a tightly knit family for people who are away from home. Service members share many unique experiences, and when the time comes to deploy, they need "family" support that much more.
 For Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Trujillo and Air Force Senior Airman Kimberly Buzzell, the support network is available not only from their unit, but also each other, as this father and daughter share their first deployment together here.
Trujillo and Buzzell are both deployed from the Air National Guard's 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron in South Portland, Maine, and are natives of Turner, Maine.
Trujillo, a cable antenna team chief, has served for 26 years. Buzzell has been in the Air Force for five years and is a radio frequency transmissions technician. Both are deployed with Task Force Signal.
For them, the Air Force, deployments and moving always have been a normal way of life.
"My wife retired from active duty about nine years ago," Trujillo said. "We have traveled and lived everywhere, and now that my daughter is older, I think she appreciates the opportunities we had being a military family."
Five years ago while Trujillo was deployed to Afghanistan, Buzzell enlisted in the same unit as her father. Trujillo came home to the surprise that his daughter was in the Air Force and part of his unit.
"My dad had mentioned the military, and I always wanted to join," she said. "Other plans happened. I got married and had kids, so a few years later, I just decided to join."
Though he was surprised, Trujillo said, he was proud of his daughter.
"I never pushed her to join. I would have supported her in any decision she made," he added. "I always thought that the Air Force would be a good choice for her. I think the Air Force is very family oriented, and it helps give you an idea of what you want to do with your life."
While Buzzell was originally tasked to deploy, Trujillo was not. Because it was Buzzell's first deployment, her father volunteered to join her in Afghanistan.
"My mom originally did not want him to volunteer," Buzzell said. "But when she found out I was tasked, she immediately changed her mind and was telling my dad he 'had' to volunteer."
Trujillo said he wanted to volunteer because he didn't think an opportunity like this would come by again. He also wanted to make sure he was there for his daughter on her first deployment.
"I think it relaxed my wife a little more, because she knew I was going to be here with my daughter," he said. "I now realize I don't really need to be here for her. She is doing great and has a great attitude about being here."
Originally, Trujillo was tasked to go to Kandahar Airfield, but when the unit switched teams around, it allowed the two the opportunity to work together.
"We don't always work together every day, but we do get to spend time together," Trujillo said. "It is good to be apart sometimes. It keeps her dad from always being on her."
Buzzell said she enjoys having her dad around and likes to tell people she is here with him whenever she gets the chance.
"He is always sticking up for me, even though he doesn't have to," she said. "The experience of having him here is one that many people will not have. It will be something that [he] and I will always share and look back on."
Having been with the unit for a few years, Buzzell said, she has found it to be a close group, so even if her father wasn't here, she knows they would take care of her.
"None of them would replace my dad, of course, but most of the people from my unit are high school friends," she said. "The airmen also see him as a father figure, and we are just happy he is here."
Trujillo and Buzzell celebrated Father's Day last month with a 5K race and a lunch date.
"One thing I didn't think I was going to miss were hugs," Buzzell said. "My daughters at home hug me all the time, so the best thing about having my dad here is that I get to hug him whenever I need a hug."
Related Sites:
Air Forces Central

Monday, June 30, 2014

Face of Defense: USS Pennsylvania Sets Patrol Record

Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 6:49 PM
By Navy Chief Petty Officer Ahron Arendes
Commander, Submarine Group 9

BANGOR, Wash., June 30, 2014 - The Trident strategic missile submarine USS Pennsylvania manned by its "Gold" crew returned home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor here June 14 following a 140-day, record-breaking patrol.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Rear Adm. Dietrich Kuhlmann, the commander of Submarine Group 9, right, congratulates the USS Pennsylvania's "Gold" crew commanding officer Navy Cmdr. Tiger Pittman, left, following the Pennsylvania's successful 140-day strategic deterrent patrol, a new record for the longest strategic deterrent patrol completed by an Ohio-class strategic missile submarine. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Ahron Arendes
Tridents are nuclear-powered, Ohio-class submarines. The Pennsylvania set a new record for the longest patrol completed by an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.
The Ohio-class submarines have two crews, called Blue and Gold, which rotate patrols. One crew is at sea usually for 60 to 90 days, while the other trains ashore. In this way, the vessels can be employed at sea 70 percent of the time, when not undergoing scheduled maintenance in port.
The Pennsylvania's "Gold" crew patrol, which began in January, is not only the longest for an Ohio-class submarine, but the longest since beginning of the Poseidon C3 ballistic missile program in the early 1970s, according to records maintained by the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Weapon System Evaluation program.
"It's an honor. It was a challenge. The job kept calling for us to stay at sea but we were ready, willing and able. So we stayed at sea and finished the mission," said Navy Cmdr. Tiger Pittman, the Pennsylvania's "Gold" crew commanding officer.
"I'm incredibly proud of my crew," Pittman added. "I've been amazed by their resiliency throughout the entire time, and not only the crew, but the families. We leave and we serve, but they stay home and they serve as well."
Trident submarines -- nicknamed "Boomers" -- carry as many as 24 Trident II D-5 nuclear ballistic missiles. At 560 feet long and 42 feet wide, they are the largest submarines in the U.S. Navy's inventory.
The Pennsylvania's Navy hull classification symbol is SSBN 735. The SS denotes "Ship, Submersible." The B denotes "ballistic missile," and the N denotes "nuclear powered."
As Pennsylvania emerged from an extended maintenance period in 2013, the patrol had originally been planned to be longer than is considered normal for Trident strategic missile submarine. The crew spent nearly the entire patrol underway, since unlike most other Navy vessels, Trident submarines don't make routine port visits except when returning to home port.
"USS Pennsylvania 'Gold's' patrol is an exceptional example of the flexibility and capability of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine. We had always expected this to be a longer than normal patrol and a highly-capable crew made it happen," said Navy Capt. Mark VanYe, chief of staff at Commander, Submarine Group 9. "When operational commitments changed, we knew the exceptional sailors serving on Pennsylvania and their families back home were up to the task.
"They have excelled across their entire mission set," VanYe added. "We are glad now to have them home and congratulate them on a job well-done."
Upon their return home, Pennsylvania's "Gold" crew was greeted by Commander of Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy Rear Adm. Phillip Sawyer, who wanted to personally thank them and congratulate them on a job well-done.
"The SSBN strategic deterrent patrol is the most important unit mission in the submarine force and vital to the defense our nation," Sawyer said. "The Pennsylvania 'Gold' crew was on the front line of deterrence, conducting critical missions from the time the ship got underway until returning home and I couldn't be prouder of what they have accomplished."
The USS Pennsylvania, part of the nation's strategic deterrence forces, is one of eight Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines home-ported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

Related Sites:
Commander, Submarine Group 9
Related Articles:
Tight-knit Trident Submariners Conduct Strategic Deterrence Missions

Thursday, June 26, 2014

NEPAL: The police state quite likes torture

Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 11:09 AM
A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission
Courtesy image from AHRC
Nepal is a country where torture and ill-treatment are widely practiced by state and non-state actors. Torture haunts detention centers, and there is no mechanism for the investigation of allegations of torture in the country. The culture of impunity strengthens its hold in Nepal, despite the armed insurgency having ended, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed, in 2006.
The police have been using torture as if it is the most credible form of investigation. Both the police and the courts are under resourced and suffer from lack of training. The incapacity of the police to investigate a case scientifically and the abuse of power in Nepal restrict the liberty of Nepalese citizens.
Impunity and the incapacity of the Nepal police to investigate cases have been exposed continually. Earlier this year, the police brutally tortured Kalu and Hikmat Chaudhari for trying to teach them about law and jurisdiction. The Nepal police have even tortured children aged 9 and 11. The police are shrewd and try to cover up their tracks. They frequently torture victims when victims are detained in police stations. After releasing them, the police often call them back to torture them again. In some cases that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has helped document, such instances of serial torture have continued for over a year.
Nepal has acceded to the Convention against Torture (CAT) on May 14, 1991. In 1996, the Government of Nepal promulgated the Compensation relating to Torture Act, 1996, also known as the Torture Compensation Act (TCA), which demonstrates a lack of understanding of torture and fails to match the standards of the CAT. Nevertheless the TCA prohibits torture, provides for compensation to victims of torture, and prescribes departmental action against government employees who inflict torture.
The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, penalizes torture. Apart from the TCA and the Interim Constitution, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Act, 2012, the Evidence Act, 1974, the Draft Criminal Code and Country Code, 1963, also contain important provisions against torture. However the NHRC is restricted to only receiving complaints of torture and making recommendations to the government; the government has been turning a deaf ear to these recommendations. And, laws and provisions have not safeguarded more and more Nepalese from falling victim to torture.
None of the provisions and laws related to torture criminalizes the act in Nepal. The government has failed to criminalize torture despite a 2007 Supreme Court order directing it to do so.
The government prepared a bill to criminalize torture; it was tabled in Parliament in 2012. However, Parliament was dissolved before the bill could be passed. The AHRC has learned that the police have expressed strong resentment to the proposed law. Threats have been made that if the government were to pass such a law, the police would not be able to maintain peace and order in society.
Torture and ill-treatment are widely practised on victims who have no connection to the crime being "investigated", in particular to help fabricate charges and extract confessions. And, virtually no perpetrators of torture and fabrication of charges have been tried and punished in Nepal.
When there is an allegation of torture, the allegation is not investigated, forget about being tried and proven, as both the perpetrators and investigators are police officers, often working in the same police station. Consequently, torture remains unaddressed by the institutions of the Nepal State.
The Government of Nepal has to not taken steps to reduce the incidence of torture. It continues to express commitment to criminalize torture, to investigate cases of torture, and to reform the functioning of security forces. These commitments remain unfulfilled.
There is need for an anti-torture law in Nepal, in line with the definition stipulated in Article 1 of the CAT. The Government should also ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and become a state party. There is also need to bring a Witness Protection Act with robust mechanisms. And, separate mechanisms should be introduced in order to provide trauma counseling services to torture victims.
However, simply promulgating such a law or laws will be insufficient; as such laws are not enforced in practice. To address the core problem, the country will need to strengthen its criminal justice institutions. A legal framework needs to be developed so investigations and prosecutions are possible in the cases of human rights violations, including torture. Unless Nepal strengthens its criminal justice institutions, the practice of torture is going to remain a tool for "investigation".
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.