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Search Tags: Scott Carr
The Federal Aviation Administration is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop alternatives to jet fuel.
The agencies will examine the availability of different kinds of feedstocks that could be processed by bio-refineries. Officials say, the development and deployment of alternative fuels is critical to achieving carbon neutral aviation growth by the year 2020.
As part of the effort, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the implementation of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (or BCAP). That program reimburses farmers or other producers for the cost of planting and producing eligible renewable biomass crops - up to 75 percent - within specified areas.
To further stabilize the cost of jet fuel, the agencies have also entered a five year agreement to develop aviation fuel from forest and crop residues and other "green" feedstocks.
As part of its Deep Learning program, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (or DARPA) is exploring recent breakthroughs in the ability of machines to learn and assess places and objects.
The need for such research is being driven by the vast amount of data that's become available to Defense commanders and analysts from new types of sensors. For warfighters, the data has to be quickly and correctly analyzed. Currently, that's done by highly trained human operators. But as sensor capabilities expand, DARPA says sophisticated, powerful machines with the ability to imitate, and even surpass, human perceptual capabilities will be needed.
They're building applications that will allow computers to detect and classify objects and activities. So far, the results hold promise for achieving human-level-or-better analysis.
When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency says it's ramping up a new Transformer program, they're not talking about transferring AC to DC.... They mean transformers, like the toys, turned movie heroes. Only in the case of DARPA, it's flying cars.
DARPA says their Transformer program will attempt to combine the advantages of ground vehicles and helicopters into a single vehicle. Six vendors will participate in a 12-month effort to develop a robust ground vehicle that can transform into an air vehicle that can take-off and land vertically. It should be able to efficiently travel 250 nautical miles on land and in the air, or any combination, without a dedicated pilot, while carrying up to 1,000 pounds.
The benefits to warfighters would be numerous, including better resupply operations and quicker medical evacuations.
Through recently developed advanced methods of measuring carbon sequestration, the U.S. Forest Service now estimates 41-point-four billion metric tons of carbon is currently stored in the nation's forests, while an additional 192 million metric tons is sequestered each year.
They report the increase is due to both increases in the total area of forest land, and in the amount of carbon stored per acre.
The new information highlights the important role America's forests play in the fight against climate change. The additional carbon sequestered offsets roughly 11-percent of the country's industrial greenhouse gas emissions every year.
National forests contain an average of 77-point-8 metric tons of carbon per acre: a greater density than on private or other public forest lands, due to differing management priorities in national forest than on private lands.
For years, the biggest renewable-energy project in the Air Force was a 140-acre solar array at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. It produces about 14-point-2 megawatts of electricity annually.
Air Force engineers are now set to outdo that project with plans to build three new larger solar arrays by the year 2013.Officials at the Davis Monthan and Luke Air Force Bases in Arizona are planning even larger solar arrays to be constructed, owned, and operated by SunEdison Company.
The Davis Monthan project is expected to generate 14-and-a-half megawatts of solar energy, delivering 35-percent of that bases energy needs.
Meantime, officials at Luke have teamed up with the Arizona Public Service Company to build a 15-megawatt solar array on 100 acres of under-utilized base property. That project could produce enough energy to satisfy half of the base's energy needs, potentially saving up to 10 million dollars on utility bills over the next quarter-century.
Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz said health care costs could make up as much as $65 billion of the defense budget by 2015. He said Air Force must work with other services to help reduce costs.
A team of planet hunters from the University of California and the Carnegie Institution of Washington have discovered a planet with three times the mass of Earth orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star's "habitable zone." The new findings are based on 11 years of observations of the nearby red dwarf star Gliese 581 using the HIRES spectrometer on the Keck I Telescope in Hawaii. The spectrometer allows precise measurements of a star's motion, which can reveal the presence of planets. The planet lies in an area where liquid water could exist on the planet's surface. If confirmed, it would be the most Earth-like exoplanet ever discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one. Its mass indicates that it is probably a rocky planet with a definite surface and enough gravity to hold on to an atmosphere.
New damage-tolerant aircraft controls will allow the safer landings of damaged aircraft. Military aircraft today face many threats, including surface-to-air missiles and weapons fired from hostile aircraft. To improve the survivability of damaged aircraft, the Damage Tolerant Controls program - administered by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - is developing software to compensate for damaged aircraft control surfaces and engines, allowing pilots to land their aircraft safely. The technology also applies to material failures that can impact flight performance in an unpredictable manner. DARPA officials say it can also benefit commercial and other aircraft.
A new digital database will help scientists understand how differences in DNA contribute to human health and disease. The National Institutes of Health has launched the Database of Genomic Structural Variation. The database will help track large-scale variations in DNA discovered in healthy individuals as well as those affected with disorders such as autism and cancer. In recent years, scientists have discovered that very large stretches of the human genome can be different in seemingly normal individuals. It had long been known that large-scale genomic changes existed, but it was thought that they were rare and usually led to disorders such as Down syndrome. It is now understood that such variations are relatively common. Understanding how they relate to individual characteristics and impact health is an important and active area of research.
The U.S. Postal Service is now the only mailing and shipping company worldwide that provides packaging supplies that are "Cradle to Cradle Certified." This means that all 175 materials used by its 58 suppliers to make stamps and stamped products have been assessed, and meet requirements for, their impact on human and environmental health, recyclability and compostability.
The Postal Service says in 2009 it provided one billion eco-friendly mailing and shipping supplies to customers.
Technology used to create biodegradable or recyclable materials have allowed the agency's sustainability initiatives to cut greenhouse gas production and to save money and resources. Specific achievements include a 10.8 trillion dollar reduction in British Thermal Units in energy use at their facilities since 2005, and $400 million dollars worth of savings in energy costs since 2007.