Evaluating industry’s role in vaccine access – The Lancet

On March 6, 2017, the Access to Medicine Foundation released its first Access to Vaccines Index, a baseline analysis of industry activities to improve access to vaccines worldwide. Two targets for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3.8 and SDG 3.B) explicitly mention vaccines. Yet, despite the global consensus on the centrality of vaccines to modern health systems, access is highly variable, and in 2016 there were 19 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world.

Large image of Figure.

Challenges to universal and sustainable access to vaccines include development of new vaccines, financing, affordability, supply, and implementation. Recognising the vital role of the pharmaceutical industry—as innovators, manufacturers, and suppliers—the index examines the behaviour of eight companies across 69 diseases, 107 countries, and three areas: research and development (R&D), pricing and registration, and manufacture and supply. Although most companies were found to make some consideration of affordability when setting vaccine prices, a more systematic approach is required, particularly for middle-income countries. For the most part, current R&D activities are linked to commercial incentives, with vaccines for seasonal influenza, pneumococcal disease, and human papillomavirus receiving the most attention. Although a third of R&D projects targeted a disease for which no vaccine exists, the report also identified 32 important diseases with no current R&D projects, including yaws, cytomegalovirus, and schistosomiasis. While detailing recent successes in the development of new vaccines for diseases of global health importance (specifically, dengue and malaria), the report highlights the ongoing need to improve vaccines once they reach the market to ensure they address usage needs in resource-limited settings.

Overall, the index paints a mixed picture of industry efforts. But in setting clear benchmarks it shows a path forward for industry to take a conscious and leading role in ensuring that every person, regardless of geography or income, has access to effective and affordable vaccines.

Today is World Kidney Day.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The CIA Before Yesterday

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The CIA Before Yesterday

WikiLeaks’ Vault 7 release of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents yesterday opened eyes worldwide about an agency President John F. Kennedy once vowed to “splinter…into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.”

Here’s a comprehensive list of ten things we didn’t know about the CIA before yesterday’s leak.

1. The CIA has an illegal domestic spying apparatus similar to the NSA

Perhaps one of the most revealing things that we learned yesterday is that the CIA’s domestic surveillance capabilities rival and may well surpass those of the National Security Agency (NSA).

While both agencies were required under the Obama administration to report vulnerabilities found in hardware and software to manufacturers, each failed to do so – endangering national security and personal privacy by weakening encryption and in the NSA’s case installing backdoors in consumer electronic devices. Obama’s loophole of the disclosure was that the agencies didn’t have to disclose exploits found if it helped them.

In 2014, Michael Daniel, a former National Security Council cybersecurity coordinator and special adviser to the president on cybersecurity issues, told WIRED that the government doesn’t stockpile large numbers of zero days for use.

“There’s often this image that the government has spent a lot of time and effort to discover vulnerabilities that we’ve stockpiled in huge numbers … The reality is just not nearly as stark or as interesting as that,” he said.

The agencies did just that hoarding zero-day vulnerabilities, exposing systems to other malicious hackers  – whether they are foreign governments or criminals, violating the Consumer Protection Act.

In doing so, both agencies also violated the Fourth Amendment which protects against unauthorized search or seizure. The CIA admitted in 2014 to the Guardian that it was obliged to follow federal surveillance laws, laws that we now know both the NSA and CIA have broken an unfathomable amount of times.

The NSA itself violated surveillance restrictions thousands of times so the question must be proposed how many times did the CIA violate those surveillance restrictions?

How can Americans trust the CIA or the NSA, when the two agencies made us less safe by breaking the law and endangering private information such as bank account numbers and credit card numbers, by keeping security holes open in the devices of millions of Americans, just so they could exploit them. As security expert Bruce Schneier said back in 2013, “It’s sheer folly to believe that only the NSA can exploit the vulnerabilities they create.”

2. The CIA has a secret base in Germany

The CIA has a secret U.S. hacking base at the consulate in Frankfurt, Germany that it would disguise as State Department employees. The CIA even instructed its employees at the base how to avoid German security and gave them a cover story. This base is now under investigation by German authorities.

CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( “Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe” or CCIE) are given diplomatic (“black”) passports and State Department cover. The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany’s counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: “Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport”

Your Cover Story (for this trip)
Q: Why are you here?
A: Supporting technical consultations at the Consulate.

3. The CIA has a cyber group dedicated to forging other countries digital fingerprints in false-flag attacks

The CIA has a secret espionage group called UMBRAGE that is dedicated to forging malware signatures of other countries including Russia.

The group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other countries.

With UMBRAGE and related projects, the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types, but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from – allowing them to create cyber false-flag attacks in which they can attack targets in the U.S. and blame another country for the resulting damages.

4. The CIA can spy on you through your smart TV and tap into the microphone

What was absent from Edward Snowden’s leaks was evidence of the ability for the NSA to spy on you through your smart TV. The CIA has found a way to do so through a program it called “Weeping Angel.”

5. The CIA can spy on you through any tablet or phone

While the NSA displayed similar capabilities to breach a phone or tablet’s security and hijack its camera or intercept text messages, the CIA proved it could do more.

Through it’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) they can exploit Android and Apple phones and tablets to do numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones then can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geo-location, audio and text communications, as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.

6. The CIA can transcribe your Skype conversations

Kim Dotcom and 0hour explain how this is done in the following tweets.

7. The CIA has exploits for every major Anti-virus software provider and major personal computer software programs, including Microsoft Word, VLC, and all operating systems

Wikileaks notes that a program called Fine Dining provides 24 decoy applications for CIA spies to use. To witnesses, the spy appears to be running a program showing videos (e.g VLC), presenting slides (Prezi), playing a computer game (Breakout2, 2048) or even running a fake virus scanner (Kaspersky, McAfee, Sophos). But while the decoy application is on the screen, the underlying system is automatically infected and ransacked. This would allow CIA agents to pose as testing a company’s security and appear as if they were really an IT tech, when in reality they were pillaging data. Wikileaks also revealed that the CIA has exploits for Windows, Linux, and Mac OSX based systems as well as general software exploits for various applications on all three OS versions.

8. The CIA can hack vehicle control modules including cars, trains, and planes

Ex-FBI Head of Los Angelas Ted L. Gunderson said that the way that the elite get rid of people is through trains, cars and plane accidents. While the capabilities of hacking vehicles may not be something new, the evidence that the CIA has this capability warrants looking back at several suspicious incidents in the past few decades which raised flags as being possible assassinations rather than simple misfortunate accidents. Yesterday We Are Change reported on journalist Michael Hastings’ suspicious death, but many others that raise suspicion include John F. Kennedy Jr’s death and Senator Paul Wellstone – both powerful political dissenters that died in strange plane crashes.

9. The CIA has an air gap virus that can infect systems even if not connected to the internet

Air gapping is a technique this reporter personally learned about in 2015 when a whistleblower personally came to me with what sounded like insane information.

What is air gapping? Well it’s hacking a computer that isn’t connected to the internet.

Using the GSM network, electromagnetic waves and a basic low-end mobile phone through intercepting RF radio signals, researchers in Israel found they could extract data from computers, and Wired has now reported. Two weeks ago Wired reported that a drone has that type of capability, simply by watching a PC’s blinking led light – an incredible finding. Add that together with the CIA being able to implant malware and you have a dangerous weapon in the CIA’s hacking arsenal.

The CIA’s “Hammer Drill” infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, they have infectors for removable media such as USBs, and systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( “Brutal Kangaroo”).

10. The CIA has a Meme Warfare Center. The meme war – is real.

The CIA actually has a meme warfare center which it uses to spread memes – giving cause for concern to anyone worried about government propaganda. Meme warfare is real, and the CIA has apparently been using it to spread disinformation. This is Operation Mockingbird in the 21st Century.

The CIA is not a friend to the people of the U.S., historically serving only the Wall Street and military-industrial complex elite. The CIA has been caught before spying domestically in the 1960’s – 70’s, including spying on journalists under Operation CELOTEX I-II and others in 702 documents called the “family jewels,” that catalog the agency’s domestic wiretapping operations, failed assassination plots, mind-control experiments and more during the early years of the CIA.

The CIA is the deep state, and it is dangerous.

This self-cleaning aquarium uses fish poop to grow plants


ECSPECT single‐port laparoscopic colorectal procedures.

Laparoscopic colorectal surgery is well established as an alternative to conventional open resection, leading to earlier postoperative recovery, decreased postoperative pain and a shorter hospital stay. Conventionally, invasive laparoscopic colorectal surgery is performed as a multiport surgery, using several trocar sites and a separate incision for specimen extraction; but this has the disadvantage of each incision being a potential site of bleeding, hematoma, infection and incisional hernia, explain the authors of the present pan-European study. Single-port colorectal surgery would offer significant advantages in this respect, but the data on this approach is still insufficient. The multi-institutional European study group (ECSPECT) was established to assess the general feasibility and safety of single-port colorectal surgery, and to provide guidance for patient selection. The study included 1,769 patients (937 with benign conditions, 832 with malignant conditions).

4.2 % of patients required conversion to open surgery; conversions were more than twice as frequent in pelvic procedures involving the rectum than in abdominal procedures (8.1 versus 3.2 %; odds ratio 2.69, P < 0.001). Postoperative complications occurred in 12.7 % of patients, and independent predictors of complications included male sex (P < 0.001), higher ASA grade (P = 0.006) and rectal procedures (P = 0.002). The overall 30-day mortality rate was 0.5 %.

This study shows the broad feasibility and safety profile of the single-port colorectal surgery technique and therefore endorses its general applicability, conclude the authors. Patient selection should be guided by the sex of the patient and his or her risks for conversion and complication.

George Michael death: What is dilated cardiomyopathy and how does it affect the body.

The heart problem involves the left ventricle becomes stretched, thin and weaker, which affects how blood is able to pump around the body.

Goerge Michael died from problems with his heart and also suffered a build-up of fat in his liver.

The heart condition singer George Michael died from, dilated cardiomyopathy, is a disease of the heart muscle.

The star died from problems with his heart and also suffered a build-up of fat in his liver, a coroner has revealed.

The heart problem involves the left ventricle becoming stretched, thin and weaker, which affects how blood is able to pump around the body.

In some cases it is an inherited condition and people who have the inherited form have a 50% chance of passing it on to their children.

The disease explained 

Otherwise, it is caused by things such as viral infections, uncontrolled high blood pressure and problems with the heart valves.

A lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet, heavy drinking and recreational drug use can also lead to the condition.

Due to the heart not pumping effectively, fluid can build up in the lungs, ankles, abdomen and other organs of the body – causing heart failure.

George Michael 

Most symptoms come on slowly but include shortness of breath, swelling of the ankles and stomach and excessive tiredness.

Myocarditis is inflammation in or around the heart and is usually caused by a viral, bacterial or fungal infection.

Symptoms include pain or tightness in the chest which can spread to other parts of the body.
Other symptoms are shortness of breath and tiredness.

Myocarditis is potentially fatal, although it sometimes exhibits no symptoms at all.

It is notoriously hard to detect and can lead to heart failure in severe cases.

People can sometimes have a high temperature, suffer headaches and have aching muscles and joints.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by a build-up of fat in the liver and is usually seen in people who are oveAround one in three people in the UK are thought to be in the early stages of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

While it usually causes no harm, it can lead to serious liver damage and increases the risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.



Neanderthal Dental Records Shows They Were Taking Prehistoric Aspirin

Even cavemen needed pain relief.


It’s 2am, you’ve got a throbbing bicuspid, and you can’t sleep, so you go into the bathroom to pop an aspirin or two.

Our Neanderthal cousins might not have had the luxury of choosing between gel-caps and dissolvable, but according to recent research, at least one poor caveman with an abscess might have sought relief from a herbal form of aspirin.

 A team led by the University of Adelaide’s Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) dug into the hardened gunk of Neanderthal teeth preserved in Europe around 42,000 to 50,000 years ago to extract the genetic material trapped inside.

Dental plaque is a sticky film of proteins and polysaccharides made by our mouth’s bacteria to help them stick to your teeth; it’s also a material that combines with minerals in your saliva to build into a yellow-brown solid called tartar.

This substance might make your dentist curse, but for those studying the diets of our ancestors, it’s a treasure-trove of preserved DNA.

“Dental plaque traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth – preserving the DNA for thousands of years,” says Laura Weyrich from ACAD.

In this case, the DNA taken from four individuals from cave sites in Spy, Belgium, and El Sidrón in Spain revealed that not only did Neanderthals have radically different culinary cultures, they also probably used plants to treat ailments.

It appears Neanderthals from Spy Cave chowed down on a particularly meaty diet, with DNA matching woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep found embedded in their plaque, as well as evidence of wild mushrooms.

Those from Sidrón Cave, however, were more accustomed to a vegetarian main course, including pine nuts, mushrooms, bark, and moss.

One El Sidrón specimen held DNA from a poplar (Populus trichocarpa), or black cottonwood, known for containing salicylic acid – the chemical basis of acetylsalicylic acid, or aspirin.

Since this individual had a dental abscess on its jawbone and signs of an intestinal parasite, it’s no great leap to imagine the plant was consumed for pain-relief more than nourishment.

There were also traces of Penicillium – a mould known for producing a chemical that forms the basis of a family of antibiotics ­– stuck to this Neanderthal’s choppers, opening the way for a debate over whether the fungus was used to treat infections in prehistoric times.

“The use of antibiotics would be very surprising, as this is more than 40,000 years before we developed penicillin. Certainly our findings contrast markedly with the rather simplistic view of our ancient relatives in popular imagination,” says the director of ACAD, Alan Cooper.

Not only was the DNA of food items preserved, but the zoo of bacteria in their mouths also left behind their genetic fingerprints, providing us with insights into how our oral microflora evolved over time.

The researchers pieced together the genetic sequence of a bacterium responsible for gum-disease called Methanobrevibacter oralis, not only setting a new record for the oldest reconstruction of a bacterial genome, but also showing that Neanderthals and ancient humans were sharing pathogens as recently as 180,000 years ago – long after the two groups split from their shared ancestry.

Interestingly, the general make-up of the bacteria living in the mouths of the Spanish Neanderthals resembled those of our foraging African ancestors, while those in the Belgian Neanderthals looked more like those of early farmers and hunter-gatherer communities.

Analysing Neanderthal tartar isn’t itself all that novel, with research published back in 2012 using the material extracted from the hardened plaque revealing our distant cousin’s vegetarian diet, medical treatments, and evidence of cooking.

Yet together with this new research, such evidence helps us build a clearer picture of Neanderthal culture, helping to dispel the sense they were unsophisticated brutes who had to suffer their toothaches and eat their woolly rhino shanks cold.

NASA Just Released the Raw Data From its Latest Observations of our ‘Sister Solar System’

You see what they see.

A few weeks ago, NASA announced the discovery of seven, Earth-sized planets orbiting a star just 39 light-years away.

Known as the TRAPPIST-1 star system, the seven planets appear to be rocky, have life-friendly surface temperatures, and could potentially harbour liquid water – leading scientists to nickname it a ‘sister solar system’ to our own, and a pretty good spot to look for extraterrestrial life.

 Since then, researchers have debated how habitable these planets could really be, given the stellar activity of the dwarf star they orbit.

But the truth is, until we get a closer look, no one can say for sure whether or not life could be supported somewhere in the star system. Which is why NASA has just rushed out data from its latest and longest observations of TRAPPIST-1 to date.

The initial discovery of the star system was made over several months last year, using a combination of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes.

But since 15 December 2016, NASA’s had its own planet-hunting Kepler space telescope trained on TRAPPIST-1 for follow-up observations. And this week, they’ve made all that additional data freely available to the scientific community and public to trawl through. (Note: you need Python-based Kadenza software to extract the raw data files.)

In total, the observation period, which was part of Kepler’s K2 Campaign, provided 74 days of monitoring, which is the longest, nearly continuous set of observations of TRAPPIST-1 to date.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell you exactly what’s in that gold mine of data just yet, because in its current state, it’s totally raw and uncalibrated, and it’s going to take weeks for scientists to make sense of what Kepler has seen.

 But this early release gives scientists an opportunity to get more insight into the gravitational interaction between the planets – a clue to whether any of them are tidally locked – as well as the chance to spot any planets that may remain undiscovered in the system.

Interestingly, TRAPPIST-1 wasn’t on Kepler’s original list of systems to study last year. But in May 2016, when the discovery of the first three planets orbiting the star was announced, NASA decided to point it towards the constellation Aquarius, home of the TRAPPIST-1 system, to get a closer look.

Specifically, Kepler monitored minuscule changes in the star’s brightness as the seven planets orbit in front of it.

That kind of ‘dimming data’ can give astronomers insight into the size and mass of the planets passing in front of their host star, and will hopefully help them nail down the orbital period of the seventh planet, which until now has only been observed passing in front of its star once.

The observations could also reveal information about the magnetic activity of the host star, which would greatly affect its habitable zone. That’s why they’ve rushed out the data’s release – NASA usually waits until its data has been processed before it gives us a look.

“Scientists and enthusiasts around the world are invested in learning everything they can about these Earth-size worlds,” said Geert Barentsen, K2 research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Centre.

“Providing the K2 raw data as quickly as possible was a priority to give investigators an early look so they could best define their follow-up research plans. We’re thrilled that this will also allow the public to witness the process of discovery.”

And it’s not just for the public’s benefit – astronomers around the world are currently preparing proposals for where we should aim Earth-based telescopes next winter, which are due by the end of March.

Telescope spots are hard to secure, so the new TRAPPIST-1 data will hopefully give researchers enough ammo to convince regulatory bodies that they should be given time to observe the star system in the coming months.

If the raw data means very little to you – and, let’s face it, if you’re not used to looking at this type of data, it’s like another language – don’t worry. NASA plans to finish processing the data by late May, and will release a ‘translated’ version then, hopefully with some exciting discoveries for us.

Although Kepler observations are amazing, what the scientific community is even more excited about is the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope next year, which will be powerful enough to actually detect the atmospheric composition of the TRAPPIST-1 system.

In the meantime, thanks to this freely available data, it could be a member of the public who stumbles across the next big discovery in the star system, and that’s pretty awesome.

It’s Official: Time Crystals Are a New State of Matter, and Now We Can Create Them

Peer-review has spoken.


Earlier this year, physicists had put together a blueprint for how to make and measure time crystals – a bizarre state of matter with an atomic structure that repeats not just in space, but in time, allowing them to maintain constant oscillation without energy.

Two separate research teams managed to create what looked an awful lot like time crystals back in January, and now both experiments have successfully passed peer-review for the first time, putting the ‘impossible’ phenomenon squarely in the realm of reality.

 “We’ve taken these theoretical ideas that we’ve been poking around for the last couple of years and actually built it in the laboratory,” says one of the researchers, Andrew Potter from Texas University at Austin.

“Hopefully, this is just the first example of these, with many more to come.”

Time crystals are one of the coolest things physics has dished up in recent months, because they point to a whole new world of ‘non-equilibrium’ phasesthat are entirely different from anything scientists have studied in the past.

For decades, we’ve been studying matter, such as metals and insulators, that’s defined as being ‘in equilibrium’ – a state where all the atoms in a material have the same amount of heat.

Now it looks like time crystals are the first example of the hypothesised but unstudied ‘non-equilibrium’ state of matter, and they could revolutionise how we store and transfer information via quantum systems.

“It shows that the richness of the phases of matter is even broader [than we thought],” physicist Norman Yao from the University of California, Berkeley, who published the blueprint in January, told Gizmodo.

 “One of the holy grails in physics is understanding what types of matter can exist in nature. [N]on-equilibrium phases represent a new avenue different from all the things we’ve studied in the past.”

First proposed by Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek back in 2012, time crystals are hypothetical structures that appear to have movement even at their lowest energy state, known as a ground state.

Usually when a material enters its ground state – also referred to as the zero-point energy of a system – movement should theoretically be impossible, because it would require it to expend energy.

But Wilczek envisioned an object that could achieve everlasting movement while in its ground state by periodically switching the alignment of atoms inside the crystal over and over again – out of the ground state, back again, and repeat.

Let’s be clear – this isn’t a perpetual motion machine, because there’s zero energy in the system. But the hypothesis did initially seem unlikely for another reason.

It hinted at a system that breaks one of the most fundamental assumptions of our current understanding of physics – time-translation symmetry, which states that the laws of physics are the same everywhere and at all times.

As Daniel Oberhaus explains for Motherboard, time-translation symmetry is the reason why it would be impossible to flip a coin at one moment and have the odds of heads or tails at 50/50, but then the next time you flip it, the odds are suddenly 70/30.

But certain objects can break this symmetry in their ground state without violating the laws of physics.

Consider a magnet with a north and a south end. It’s unclear how a magnet ‘decides’ which end will be north and which will be south, but the fact that it has a north and a south end means it won’t look the same on both ends – it’s naturally asymmetrical.

Another example of a physical object with an asymmetrical ground state is a crystal.

Crystals are known for their repeating structural patterns, but the atoms inside them have ‘preferred’ positions within the lattice. So depending on where you observe a crystal in space, it will look different – the laws of physics are no longer symmetrical, because they don’t apply equally to all points in space.

With this in mind, Wilczek proposed that it might be possible to create an object that achieves an asymmetrical ground state not across space, like ordinary crystals or magnets, but across time.

In other words, could atoms prefer different states at different intervals in time?

Fast-forward a few years, and American and Japanese researchers showed that this could be possible, with one major tweak to Wilczek’s proposal – in order to get time crystals flipping their states over and again, they needed to be given a ‘nudge’ every once in a while.

In January this year, Norman Yao described how such a system could be built, describing it to Elizabeth Gibney at Nature as a “weaker” kind of symmetry violation than Wilczek had imagined.

“It’s like playing with a jump rope, and somehow our arm goes around twice, but the rope only goes around once,” he says, adding that in Wilczek’s version, the rope would oscillate all by itself.

“It’s less weird than the first idea, but it’s still fricking weird.”

Two separate teams of researchers, one led by the University of Maryland, and the other by Harvard University, took this blueprint and ran with it, creating two different versions of a time crystal that appeared equally viable.

“Both systems are really cool. They’re kind of very different. I think they’re extremely complimentary,” Yao told Gizmodo.

“I don’t think one is better than the other. They look at two different regimes of the physics. The fact that you’re seeing this similar phenomenology in very different systems is really amazing.”

Described in pre-print papers in January, the University of Maryland’s time crystals were created by taking a conga line of 10 ytterbium ions, all with entangled electron spins.

131711 web

As Fiona MacDonald reported for us at the time:

“The key to turning that set-up into a time crystal was to keep the ions out of equilibrium, and to do that the researchers alternately hit them with two lasers. One laser created a magnetic field and the second laser partially flipped the spins of the atoms.”

Because the spins of all the atoms were entangled, the atoms settled into a stable, repetitive pattern of spin flipping that defines a crystal, but it did something truly strange to become a time crystal – the spin-flipping pattern in the system repeated only half as fast as the laser pulses.

“Wouldn’t it be super weird if you jiggled the Jell-O and found that somehow it responded at a different period?” Yao explained.

The Harvard time crystal instead used diamonds that had been loaded with so many nitrogen impurities, they turned black.

diamond-blackThe Harvard diamond. 

The spin of these impurities were able to be flipped back and forth like the spin of the ytterbium ions in the Maryland experiment.

It was an exciting moment for physics, but now things are finally official, because both experiments have passed peer-review, and now appear in separate papers in Nature, here and here.

And now that we know these things exist, it’s time to make more of them, and put them to use.

One of the most promising applications for time crystals is quantum computing – they could allow physicists to create stable quantum systems at far higher temperatures than can be achieved right now, and that just might be the push we need to finally make quantum computing a reality.

The US Government Has Issued NASA a Demand – Get Humans to Mars by 2033

Keeping up with the space race.

Both chambers of Congress just passed the NASA Authorisation Act of 2017. With this transformative development, the space agency got a lot more than just $19.508 billion in funding. They also got a very clear mandate: Get humanity to Mars.

To be clear, Mars has been in the works for some time; however, the 2017 Act places a strong emphasis on this goal, making it the focal point of NASA’s long-term plans. In the document, congress asserts that the space agency is to get humans “near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s”.

 Opposition to the bill from the administration isn’t expected, so it’s more than likely to be passed into law by the presidency.

In order to get to Mars by the 2030s, Congress is asking NASA to develop “an initial human exploration roadmap” that must be submitted before 1 December 2017.

The bill outlines the necessity of this roadmap, stating:

“It is the sense of Congress that expanding human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and advancing toward human missions to Mars in the 2030s requires early strategic planning and timely decisions to be made in the near-term on the necessary courses of action for commitments to achieve short-term and long-term goals and objectives.”

To that end, the 2017 Act states that this plan should outline clear goals that are a bit closer to home, instead of just making a grand leap to the Red Planet all at once.

The document states, “A human exploration roadmap should begin with low-Earth orbit, then address in greater detail progress beyond low-Earth orbit to cis-lunar space, and then address future missions aimed at human arrival and activities near and then on the surface of Mars.”

 Speaking of the planned stages, NASA already has a basic outline:

“The human exploration of Mars crosses three thresholds, each with increasing challenges as humans move farther from Earth: Earth Reliant [now until the mid-2020s], the Proving Ground [2018-2030], and Earth Independent [now to 2030s and beyond].”

You can see a full breakdown of each of these stages at this link, and a very basic breakdown of the stages in the NASA image below:

With these planned phases, NASA should be able to easily provide Congress with the roadmap that it’s asking for.

Through this new NASA Authorisation Act, Congress affirms that “Mars is the appropriate long-term goal for the human space flight program,” and it is likely that the Moon will be a stop over in 2020, if the current administration’s plans push forward.

NASA’s Mars Missions

Recently, much of the news covering missions to Mars involved private space companies, most notably, SpaceX and foreign space agencies – including China and the UAE.

According to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the company will create a permanent Martian settlement.

To that end, Musk’s plan includes the launch of the unmanned Red Dragon spacecraft by 2018, then sending a new and reusable rocket by 2022 (which will be powered by the just recently tested Raptor rocket), and eventually launching humans to Mars after that-hopefully landing by 2025. However, much of the details still need to be fleshed out.

Regardless, Musk has made it clear that he thinks such a colonisation project will ultimately save the human race. And as this directive by congress reveals, the US government agrees. See SpaceX’s plans in this video:https://youtu.be/0qo78R_yYFA

To say, however, that NASA has been sitting idly by would be inaccurate. The space agency has been “on a journey to Mars” for some time.

So, what has NASA been up to in relation to the Red Planet? The agency already has a host of rovers currently on Mars.

One, the Curiosity rover, has made much headway in helping us better understand how much water did (and maybe still does) exist on Mars.

Another rover is planned for 2020. This Mars 2020 rover will gather and study data on the availability of resources, such as oxygen, on Mars.

In this respect, Sending rovers is one of the first steps in getting people to Mars.

Ultimately, in the end, getting humans to Mars isn’t some empty obsession. It’s a worthwhile endeavor-one that has the potential to inspire generations in the same manner that the Apollo missions (and Moon landing) did.

For many, getting to Mars would be the highest point of human exploration they would ever witness. Think of what New Horizon’s arrival at Pluto felt like, and now multiply that by about 100.

Already, Mars rover missions are accelerating innovation and research exponentially, so think of all the things that we could learn once we’re actually there.

It is a bold new era in the final frontier.

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