NASA is hiring astronauts to go to the moon and Mars. Here’s what candidates need on their resumes.
- NASA is hiring a new class of astronauts for its Artemis missions, which aim to set up a station on the moon and send people to Mars.
- Last time the space agency hired a new class of astronauts, it received 18,000 applications.
- It usually takes over a year to get to the final round of the hiring process.
- For those selected, training includes underwater spacewalk simulations, learning Russian, and flying fighter jets.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
NASA is looking for new astronauts.
The new class will staff the agency’s Artemis missions, which aim to set up a station on the moon and eventually send humans to Mars.
„It’s the best job, on or off the planet,” Brandi Dean, a spokesperson for NASA, told Business Insider.
The application period for the new cohort opens March 2 and closes March 31. The salary range: $104,898 to $161,141.
NASA doesn’t have a set number of open positions, but past cohort sizes have ranged from eight to 12. The last time the agency hired astronauts, over 18,000 applications came in.
What it takes to become an astronaut
This is the first time in four years that NASA is hiring astronauts, and the job requirements have changed a little.
Applicants still need US citizenship and two years of related professional experience. But Artemis astronaut candidates also need to pass a 2-hour online assessment after submitting their applications — it’s a screener to ensure they’re able to meet the expectations of the role.
Also, a master’s degree in a STEM field is a requirement for the first time, rather than a bachelor’s. (Two years of work towards a Ph.D in STEM, an MD, or completion of a test-pilot program would also work, NASA says.)
Dean said NASA changed these job requirements to better reflect the candidates that actually get hired.
„Everyone’s had a master’s or had been a test pilot, so it made sense,” she said.
The hiring process is long. The most promising applications go to a panel made up of current astronauts, who pick out the most qualified individuals. Astronauts know what the job entails, Dean said, and „they’ll tell you that what’s harder to see on paper is operational experience.”
That experience, in simple terms, is work in life-or-death situations. People who’ve been in the military tend to have it. Astronaut Kate Rubin’s „operational experience,” meanwhile, came from conducting research that helped create therapies for the Ebola virus.
After reference checks, approximately 120 people are invited to interview onsite. A smaller group gets invited back, and an even smaller group returns again for medical testing.
„We probably won’t be able to announce until 2021,” Dean said.
‘You’re actually hired as an astronaut candidate’
Once hired, the new class of astronauts will join the 48 astronauts in the active corps.
„When you’re hired, you’re actually hired as an astronaut candidate,” Dean said.
The candidates spend a lot of time in the classroom and receive intensive training to develop the basic skills required of astronauts. That includes spacewalk practice underwater, virtual-reality experiments, lessons in Russian, learning how to operate a robot arm, and mastering ISS protocol.
The astronaut candidates also all fly T-38 fighter jets.
„That’s one segment that’s completely real” in the training, Dean said. „These decisions could have life-or-death consequences. You have to be ready to deal with anything that might come up.”
After two years of initial training, astronaut candidates are eligible for assignments.
According to NASA’s announcement about the open roles, those assignments could involve living and working on the International space Station.
It adds: „They may also launch on NASA’s powerful new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, docking the spacecraft at the Gateway in lunar orbit before taking a new human landing system to the moon’s surface. After returning humans to the moon in 2024, NASA plans to establish sustainable lunar exploration by 2028. Gaining new experiences on and around the moon will prepare NASA to send the first humans to Mars in the mid-2030s.”
Once they’re assigned to a mission, that usually requires another couple years of training. But astronauts waiting for assignments are still quite busy, Dean said.
„You’re not just twiddling your thumbs,” she said. „You’re helping develop new spacecraft, supporting fellow astronauts who are in space, and lots more.”
Dean added that NASA was already planning to hire a new class of astronauts before a funding boost for the space agency was included in the new federal budget. But the additional money will allow astronauts to conduct more research and give them more opportunities in their roles.
„We’re asking all eligible Americans if they have what it takes to apply,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
Read the original article on Business Insider
By Colin Packham
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Torrential rain across Australia’s east could extinguish all remaining bushfires in the country’s most populous state by the end of the week, authorities said on Tuesday, raising hopes a deadly national crisis is almost over.
Australia has been battling hundreds of blazes since September in an unusually prolonged summer wildfire season that was fuelled by three years of drought, which experts have attributed to climate change.
Heavy rain and storms have in recent days swept across New South Wales (NSW) state, which bore the brunt of a crisis that engulfed several states and territories at its peak.
The downpour has already doused two of the biggest and longest running blazes and NSW officials are hopeful that more rain forecast for this week will extinguish the remaining 24 fires, four of which are burning „uncontrolled”.
„All going well, all will be contained and we’re hopeful to get to a stage where we can call them out,” the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said in an emailed statement.
The current situation is a far cry from the height of the crisis in early January when NSW firefighters were battling almost 150 fires that produced a firefront about 6,000 kilometres (3,700 miles) long.
Blazes across the country have razed nearly 12 million hectares (29.7 million acres) of tinder-dry bushland, killing 33 people and an estimated 1 billion native animals, since September. The fires destroyed thousands of homes and prompted mass evacuations of both locals and tourists under apocalyptic-like red skies during Australia’s peak summer holiday period.
Hawkesbury City Mayor Barry Calvert said the dousing of the massive Gospers Mountain fire this week was a huge relief.
„We’ve been living with this fire for four months,” he told Reuters by telephone. „We could never relax. For several weeks, we all had our bags packed ready to evacuate as the fire would move quickly in different directions depending on how the wind changed.”
„The smoke would also get you down, we were desperate for some clean air.”
The welcome rainfall has come as something of an early surprise. The Bureau of Meteorology in January said rains sufficient enough to extinguish the fires was unlikely until at least March.
In neighbouring Victoria state, firefighters were battling around 20 blazes on Tuesday – down from a peak of 60. Heavy rain was also forecast in Victoria for coming days, although officials expect it to dampen, rather than extinguish, many of the fires.
„The lower end rainfall totals won’t put out fires, they will allow them to be contained or controlled by firefighters in the near future,” Victorian State Response Controller Tim Wiebusch told reporters in Melbourne.
In Queensland state, which also received heavy rainfalls, just one fire remains ablaze, while nine fires are alight in South Australia south.
The rainfall has, however, proved to be a double-edged sword. Nearly 60,000 households across NSW remained without electricity on Tuesday as flash flooding bought down powerlines and trees.
(Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Jane Wardell)
GOP Edges Gingerly Toward Climate Plan After Sowing Doubts by Ari Natter•GOP Edges Gingerly Toward Climate Plan After Sowing Doubts(Bloomberg) — It’s not quite the Green New Deal, but House Republicans began revealing on Wednesday their plan to combat climate change that comports with conservative principles of less regulation and increased domestic energy development.The move comes as the GOP stance on the issue shifts from sowing doubt about climate change — or ignoring it all together — to grappling with how to best address it in the face of pressure from young voters and public alarm over deadly storms and wildfires linked to global warming.“I think it’s a lot like health care was for the Republican party,” said Kiera O’Brien, president of Young Conservatives for Carbon Dividends. “Climate is really a risk issue for us. We see the writing on the wall.”GOP Tiptoes Toward Climate Plans as Ocasio-Cortez Turns Up HeatBut don’t expect the plan being crafted by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and other senior GOP officials to include mandated limits on greenhouse gas emissions or a tax on carbon dioxide. Instead, Republicans are focused on a proposal centered around innovation and conservation.McCarthy unveiled the first of portion of the legislation Wednesday with a package focused on carbon sequestration. It calls for the expansion and permanent extension of a tax credit for oil companies and others that capture carbon dioxide and bury it in the ground, money for the development of carbon capture for natural-gas power plants, and a bill by Arkansas Republican Representative Bruce Westerman that sets a goal of planting one trillion trees around the world.Later components are likely to focus on climate resilience, plastic pollution and increasing energy production from carbon-free electricity sources like nuclear and hydropower, according to two people familiar with the party’s planning.“We can bring you a healthier, cleaner, and safer environment through innovation,” McCarthy told reporters during a press conference in which his Republican colleagues denied the party had spent years obfuscating on the issue of climate. “What the Democrats want is greater control and command.”The GOP measures, many of which have Democratic backing, are in line with legislation being prepared by Republicans in the Senate that are focused on energy storage, renewable power and carbon-capture technology.Senate GOP Counters Ocasio-Cortez With Free-Market Climate Bills But critics dismiss the plans as cynical rhetoric.“I think they’ve been backed into a corner and they realize they can’t be climate deniers anymore,” said Melinda Pierce, legislative director for the Sierra Club. “They have to say something but what they are saying is nothing. It’s grasping at plastic straws and planting trees.”Climate change is an awkward issue for Republicans because it has been dismissed by their leader, President Donald Trump, whose donors in the oil and gas industry are eager to head off new government regulation.At the same time, a poll of 1,000 18- to 35-year-old voters by the American Conservation Coalition found that 77% of right-leaning respondents said climate change was important to them, a number that increased to 90% among independent voters.“From our perspective the climate crisis is huge and its going to need Democrats and Republicans alike working toward solving it,” said Sandra Purohit, director of federal advocacy for E2, a group of environmental business leaders that is partnering with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We see these as building blocks, its not the whole solution but its the direction we start moving in if we need to start addressing climate.”The Republican plan also got pushback from conservatives.The conservative Club for Growth slammed the plan as an example of “liberal environmental policies” illustrating how the politics of climate change remains tricky for the GOP.“Besides hurting our economy, these measures will not make a single environmentalist vote for a Republican and only alienate conservatives across the country,” the group’s president, David McIntosh, said in statement.(Updates with Club for Growth statement in last paragraph. A previous version corrected McCarthy’s quote in the seventh paragraph.)–With assistance from Jennifer A. Dlouhy.To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Natter in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at email@example.com, Elizabeth WassermanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
WASHINGTON — A rare policy enacted under President Donald Trump to address climate change has run into an unexpected hurdle: the tax man.
In 2018, Congress approved a lucrative tax break for companies that use carbon capture technology to trap carbon dioxide produced by industrial sites before the gas escapes into the atmosphere and heats the planet. The technology is still costly and contentious, but may one day become a valuable tool for slowing global warming. House Republicans are aiming to expand support for carbon capture as part of a broader package of climate bills, the first of which is expected Wednesday.
At least a dozen carbon capture projects, potentially representing billions of dollars in investments, have been announced since Congress passed its 2018 tax break. But two years later, those plans remain blocked because the Internal Revenue Service has yet to explain how, exactly, companies can claim the tax credit that would make the projects viable.
“The delay is unacceptable and will only further slow much-needed investment in carbon capture,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., an original co-sponsor of the tax break.
Asked about the delay, an IRS spokesman said Thursday that the agency would begin issuing some guidance “within the next few weeks,” including clarity on how project developers can partner with investors. But other important guidance is still “under development,” the IRS spokesman said.
That includes rules for monitoring underground storage sites and imposing penalties if the carbon dioxide leaks back out. As to why the rules have taken two years, he said the agency has been working through “many challenging issues” raised by companies, environmental groups and other interested parties.
Observers say the IRS has also been busy implementing the vast 2017 Republican tax overhaul, which may partly explain the delay.
But the clock is ticking on its tax credit. By law, companies have to start construction by the end of 2023 to qualify for the credit, but planning and financing large projects can take years. The uncertainty created by the delay, many fear, may prevent projects from getting off the ground.
Some rare good news from the climate change front.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide in 2019 were level with those of 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Overall, 33 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted worldwide from energy usage in 2019, even as the world economy expanded by nearly 3%. That was about the same level as in 2018.
The agency attributed the stoppage to „declining emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies, thanks to the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar), fuel switching from coal to natural gas and higher nuclear power generation.”
The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases „greenhouse” gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. The emissions have caused the planet’s temperatures to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural factors, scientists report.
In the past 20 years, the world’s temperature has risen about two-thirds of a degree Fahrenheit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
The United States recorded the largest emissions decline by country, a fall of 140 million tons, or 2.9%, according to the report. The nation’s electricity demand fell thanks to a milder summer and warmer winter than earlier years, the report said.
U.S. emissions are now down by almost 1 gigaton from their peak in 2000.
„It’s good news that energy-related emissions didn’t rise, or at least not much, last year,” the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a statement. „But we’re not even close to cutting carbon pollution at the pace necessary to address climate change.
„To reliably prevent global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels – hot enough to destroy the world’s coral reefs, among other serious dangers – the world needs to slash emissions by 25% this decade and reach zero by 2070, according to the United Nations climate panel,” MIT said.
IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a statement: „We now need to work hard to make sure that 2019 is remembered as a definitive peak in global emissions, not just another pause in growth. … This welcome halt in emissions growth is grounds for optimism that we can tackle the climate challenge this decade.
„It is evidence that clean energy transitions are underway – and it’s also a signal that we have the opportunity to meaningfully move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments,” Birol concluded.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Climate change: Global carbon dioxide emissions stayed flat in 2019
The bonsai tree started its life in a tin can, tended by a Japanese-American man incarcerated in a World War II internment camp. On Sunday, its caretakers feared it would soon die at the hands of thieves.
Pacific Bonsai Museum in Washington state put out a call on social media asking for help, saying the tree was among two bonsai trees that had been stolen over the weekend. Without proper daily care, the historic trees would die, the museum said.
The local media attention turned into national attention. And then less than 72 hours after the seven-decade old trees vanished, they reappeared – sitting in the rain on a road leading to the museum.
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“We’re feeling so grateful,” Kathy McCabe, the museum’s executive director, told USA TODAY on Wednesday. The trees “belong to our community … (it’s) great to have them back.”
McCabe isn’t sure what would motivate someone to steal the trees, which she described this week as „priceless treasures” in an interview with NPR. They might have wanted to sell them or give them away – maybe they wanted to care for a bonsai tree.
While one tree did sustain minor damage, the end result is a relief to the museum.
In a Sunday post about the theft, curator Aarin Packard wrote: “This is a tremendous loss, not only to our collection but there is a strong likelihood that the trees will perish. These trees have been cared for every day for more than 70 years, and if that daily care doesn’t continue the trees will die.”
The trees, with the proper care, could live hundreds of years more, McCabe said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stolen bonsai trees returned in Washington, Pacific Bonsai Museum says