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Teen Finalists in NASA Competition Targeted by Hackers Based on Race

Teenagers in NASA challenge targeted by hackers for their race

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NASA's Tiny Satellite Maps Global Ice Couds. Pixabay
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NASA has confirmed that hackers tried to sway results of a challenge for teenagers that involved public voting via social media by targeting some participants on the basis of their race.

The challenge from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center encourages students to find “spinoff” technology in their everyday world, the USA Today reported on Thursday.

However, after learning hackers attempted to alter the final vote totals, NASA said on April 29 it had to shut down the voting portion of the “OPSPARC Challenge”, which hopes to ignite creative thinking in children.

“Unfortunately, it was brought to NASA’s attention … that some members of the public used social media, not to encourage students and support STEM, but to attack a particular student team based on their race and encouraged others to disrupt the contest and manipulate the vote, and the attempt to manipulate the vote occurred shortly after those posts,” NASA said in a statement.

Representational image for Hacking.
Representational image. Pixabay

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the hackers targeted a team of students from Washington, DC’s Banneker High School who created a product that could purify school systems’ water by checking for chemicals such as chlorine.

The Banneker team was among eight finalists to win the challenge.

Before the voting ended, members of the public were using social media to generate support for particular teams in the public voting.

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NASA supports this kind of community-based effort to encourage students to engage with science, technology, engineering and math and recognises social media as an important tool for that support.

The challenge team has an accurate record of the voting results prior to the attempted disruption, NASA said.

“In accordance with the judging criteria and voting procedures stated on the OPSPARC website, a panel of NASA Goddard judges will make a final determination of the winners using the published rubrics,” it added.

The results are slated to be announced this month.  (IANS)

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US Senators Want NASA To Extend The ISS Life Until At Least 2028

The aim was to save mony so that more resources could invested into deep space exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.

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NASA ISS
Representational Image, VOA

NASA should extend the life of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2028, two US Senators said in a hearing to examine the future of the orbiting laboratory.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas who is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness convened the hearing on Wednesday, which was the first in a series of two hearings to examine the role of the space station.

In its 2019 budget request, the Donald Trump administration proposed ending direct government funding for the ISS by 2025, Florida Today, part of the USA Today network, reported on Wednesday.

“We’ve got this platform up there (worth) north of $100 billion, and it’s there,” Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, ranking member on the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, was quoted as saying.

“Abandoning this incredible orbiting laboratory where they are doing research, when we are on the cusp of a new era of space exploration, would be irresponsible at best and probably disastrous,” Nelson added.

NASA should extend the life of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2028, two US Senators said in a hearing to examine the future of the orbiting laboratory.
ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 directed NASA to develop a plan to transition ISS from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit (LEO) non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

The aim was to save mony so that more resources could invested into deep space exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.

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The space agency’s internal watchdog on Wednesday, however, said that private companies are unlikely to take on the more than $1 billion annual cost to run the International Space Station by 2025 as NASA hopes.

The report from NASA Inspector General provided a closing argument against the Trump administration’s proposal to privatise or abandon the orbiting laboratory so soon, the US senators said, according to the Florida Today report.

“The defence rests,” quipped Senator Cruz of Texas. (IANS)

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