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Trump Rips Ex-advisers Who Spoke With Mueller

President Donald Trump lashed out Friday at current and former aides who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, insisting the deeply unflattering picture they painted of him and the White House was “total bullsh**.” 

 

In a series of angry tweets from rainy Palm Beach, Fla., Trump laced into those who, under oath, had shared with Mueller their accounts of how Trump tried numerous times to squash or influence the investigation and portrayed the White House as infected by a culture of lies, deceit and deception.

Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue,'' Trump wrote, adding that some weretotal bullsh** & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad).” 

The attacks were a dramatic departure from the upbeat public face the White House had shown just 24 hours earlier, when Trump celebrated the report’s findings as full exoneration and counselor Kellyanne Conway called it “the best day” for Trump’s team since his election.

While the president, according to people close to him, did feel vindicated by the report, he also felt betrayed by those who had painted him in an unflattering light — even though they were speaking under oath and had been directed by the White House to cooperate fully with Mueller’s team. 

 

The reaction was not entirely surprising and had been something staffers feared in the days ahead of the report’s release as they wondered how Mueller might portray their testimony and whether the report might damage their relationships with Trump. 

 

While Mueller found no criminal evidence that Trump or his campaign aides colluded in Russian election meddling, nor did the special counsel recommend obstruction charges against the president, the 448-page report released Thursday nonetheless paints a damaging picture of the president, describing numerous cases where he discouraged witnesses from cooperating with prosecutors and prodded aides to mislead the public on his behalf to hamper the Russia probe he feared would cripple his presidency. 

 

The accounts prompted Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has sometimes clashed with Trump, to release a statement saying he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president.” 

 

“Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders,” he said. 

 

The report concluded that one reason Trump managed to stay out of trouble was that his “efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful … largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” 

 

That didn’t spare those who defied Trump’s wishes from his wrath.  

Trump appeared to be especially angry with former White House counsel Don McGahn, who sat with Mueller for about 30 hours of interviews, and is referenced numerous times in the report. 

 

In one particularly vivid passage, Mueller recounts how Trump called McGahn twice at home and directed him to set in motion Mueller’s firing. McGahn recoiled, packed up his office and threatened to resign, fearing the move would trigger a potential crisis akin to the “Saturday Night Massacre” of firings during the Watergate era. 

 

In another section, Mueller details how Trump questioned McGahn’s note-taking, telling the White House counsel that lawyers don't take notes'' and that he'dnever had a lawyer who took notes.”

“Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed,” Trump said in one of his tweets Friday. Others whose contemporaneous notes were referenced in the report include former staff secretary Rob Porter and Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff. 

 

Trump ended his tweet with a ... ,'' suggesting more was coming. More than eight hours later, he finally completed his thought, calling the probe abig, fat, waste of time, energy and money” and threatening investigators by saying, “It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even Spying or Treason.” There is no evidence of either.  

Trump, who is in Florida for the Easter weekend, headed to his West Palm Beach golf club Friday after some early-morning rain had cleared. There he played golf with conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh “and a couple friends,” according to the White House. 

 

He’ll spend the rest of the weekend with family, friends and paying members of his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. 

 

As Trump hopped off the steps from Air Force One on Thursday evening, he was greeted by a throng of supporters, who clamored for autographs and selfies. He repeatedly told the crowd “thank you, everybody” as they yelled encouragement. 

 

Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary to former President George W. Bush, said in an appearance on Fox News that he didn’t understand why Trump decided to send his tweets lashing out at former aides. 

 

I think it's over,'' he said.If I were the president, I would have basically declared victory with the Mueller report and everything that came out and move beyond it.” 

 

Still, he said he hoped the White House had learned some lessons. 

 

The president and his entire team needs to realize how close they came to being charged with obstruction,'' Fleischer said.Asking your staff to lie and engaging in some of the activities that the Mueller report stated the president engaged in is too close to obstruction. And that’s a lesson I hope everybody at the White House takes with them going forward.” 

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Trump Rips Ex-advisers Who Spoke With Mueller

President Donald Trump lashed out Friday at current and former aides who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, insisting the deeply unflattering picture they painted of him and the White House was “total bullsh**.” 

 

In a series of angry tweets from rainy Palm Beach, Fla., Trump laced into those who, under oath, had shared with Mueller their accounts of how Trump tried numerous times to squash or influence the investigation and portrayed the White House as infected by a culture of lies, deceit and deception.

Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue,'' Trump wrote, adding that some weretotal bullsh** & only given to make the other person look good (or me to look bad).” 

The attacks were a dramatic departure from the upbeat public face the White House had shown just 24 hours earlier, when Trump celebrated the report’s findings as full exoneration and counselor Kellyanne Conway called it “the best day” for Trump’s team since his election.

While the president, according to people close to him, did feel vindicated by the report, he also felt betrayed by those who had painted him in an unflattering light — even though they were speaking under oath and had been directed by the White House to cooperate fully with Mueller’s team. 

 

The reaction was not entirely surprising and had been something staffers feared in the days ahead of the report’s release as they wondered how Mueller might portray their testimony and whether the report might damage their relationships with Trump. 

 

While Mueller found no criminal evidence that Trump or his campaign aides colluded in Russian election meddling, nor did the special counsel recommend obstruction charges against the president, the 448-page report released Thursday nonetheless paints a damaging picture of the president, describing numerous cases where he discouraged witnesses from cooperating with prosecutors and prodded aides to mislead the public on his behalf to hamper the Russia probe he feared would cripple his presidency. 

 

The accounts prompted Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has sometimes clashed with Trump, to release a statement saying he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president.” 

 

“Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders,” he said. 

 

The report concluded that one reason Trump managed to stay out of trouble was that his “efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful … largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” 

 

That didn’t spare those who defied Trump’s wishes from his wrath.  

Trump appeared to be especially angry with former White House counsel Don McGahn, who sat with Mueller for about 30 hours of interviews, and is referenced numerous times in the report. 

 

In one particularly vivid passage, Mueller recounts how Trump called McGahn twice at home and directed him to set in motion Mueller’s firing. McGahn recoiled, packed up his office and threatened to resign, fearing the move would trigger a potential crisis akin to the “Saturday Night Massacre” of firings during the Watergate era. 

 

In another section, Mueller details how Trump questioned McGahn’s note-taking, telling the White House counsel that lawyers don't take notes'' and that he'dnever had a lawyer who took notes.”

“Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed,” Trump said in one of his tweets Friday. Others whose contemporaneous notes were referenced in the report include former staff secretary Rob Porter and Reince Priebus, Trump’s first chief of staff. 

 

Trump ended his tweet with a ... ,'' suggesting more was coming. More than eight hours later, he finally completed his thought, calling the probe abig, fat, waste of time, energy and money” and threatening investigators by saying, “It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even Spying or Treason.” There is no evidence of either.  

Trump, who is in Florida for the Easter weekend, headed to his West Palm Beach golf club Friday after some early-morning rain had cleared. There he played golf with conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh “and a couple friends,” according to the White House. 

 

He’ll spend the rest of the weekend with family, friends and paying members of his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. 

 

As Trump hopped off the steps from Air Force One on Thursday evening, he was greeted by a throng of supporters, who clamored for autographs and selfies. He repeatedly told the crowd “thank you, everybody” as they yelled encouragement. 

 

Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary to former President George W. Bush, said in an appearance on Fox News that he didn’t understand why Trump decided to send his tweets lashing out at former aides. 

 

I think it's over,'' he said.If I were the president, I would have basically declared victory with the Mueller report and everything that came out and move beyond it.” 

 

Still, he said he hoped the White House had learned some lessons. 

 

The president and his entire team needs to realize how close they came to being charged with obstruction,'' Fleischer said.Asking your staff to lie and engaging in some of the activities that the Mueller report stated the president engaged in is too close to obstruction. And that’s a lesson I hope everybody at the White House takes with them going forward.” 

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Warren Is First 2020 Democrat to Call for Impeachment 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday became the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to make a full-throated call for the House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report. 

 

Mueller, who investigated whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 election and whether the president tried to interfere with the inquiry, found no evidence of a conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign and offered no verdict on obstruction of justice. Mueller did find, however, that Trump made numerous attempts to interfere with the investigation but was largely foiled by those around him. 

 

In a series of tweets, Warren said it would be damaging to “ignore a president’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior” and would give license to future presidents to act in the same way. 

‘Constitutional duty’

“The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States,” Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, tweeted. 

 

Other 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, while supportive of the idea of impeachment, were more circumspect in their responses.  

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said Friday on CNN that it would be “perfectly reasonable for Congress to open up those proceedings.” 

 

Both Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington and Rep. Eric Swalwell of California said the question of impeachment should not be taken off the table.  Other Democratic candidates, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, indicated it was too soon to initiate impeachment proceedings. 

 

“We don’t have an unredacted version of the report. We don’t have the underlying materials that that report was written upon. We haven’t had yet an opportunity to have hearings where we interview Mueller,” Booker said during a campaign stop in Reno, Nevada. 

 

Harris was asked Thursday night on MSNBC to comment on House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s remarks that impeachment hearings against Trump would not be “worthwhile” because the 2020 election is coming up and voters can decide if they want to keep Trump in office.    

I think that's there definitely a conversation to be had on that subject,'' Harris said, referring to impeachment,but first I want to hear from Bob Mueller and really understand what exactly is the evidence that supports the summary that we’ve been given.” 

 

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said the best recourse for Trump’s actions as president would be to vote him out.  

  

“If we really want to send Trumpism into the history books, the best thing we can do is defeat it decisively at the ballot box in 2020,” Buttigieg said on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers.

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Mueller Report Draws Blanket Denials From Moscow 

Russian officials Friday continued to deny that Moscow tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election, brushing aside hundreds of pages of evidence released in special counsel Robert Muller’s report by saying it contained no proof.

“We still do not accept accusations of that sort,” Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters in a conference call.  He said Russia has insisted from the very beginning of the two-year probe that “whatever investigators did, they would find no [Russian] meddling, because there was no meddling.” 

 

In the United States, there is consensus among the nation’s intelligence community, and details published in the Mueller report, on how Moscow used a variety of tactics and people to try to influence Americans’ political opinions, hurt political enemies and help Donald Trump’s campaign. U.S. prosecutors announced indictments against 25 Russian nationals, mostly military officers and “internet trolls,” as well as three Russian entities for their roles in the meddling. 

 

Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that [Mueller’s conclusions] “actually confirm the absence of any argument that Russia supposedly meddled in the American elections.”  

Last month, Russian officials reacted in a similar fashion after U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a summary of Mueller’s investigation. In their euphoric reactions, however, they commented only on the news that the U.S. probe had found no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Moscow, ignoring the fact that Mueller’s team had also backed the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia in fact meddled in the 2016 election campaign.

Observers believe there is little hope that Russia will change its position on the conclusions of Mueller’s investigation. 

 

“I don’t think there will be new statements made on the matter [by Russian officials], unless new facts are presented against Russia,” said Leonid Gusev of the Moscow-based Institute of International Research. 

Consistent stance

 

Pavel Sharikov, a senior fellow at the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, agreed with his countryman, saying that “Russia’s position on the matter has been consistent” throughout the course of Mueller’s investigation and that at this point nothing will change it. 

 

Experts are also doubtful about the ability of Washington and Moscow to build a constructive relationship in the near future. For that to happen, they say, a new administration will have to come to the White House.  

Even though the special counsel and his team could not find evidence of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 campaign, some analysts say the cloud of collusion will linger over Trump’s presidency. 

 

“There is no action that Russia can take that would change this [negative] narrative both in U.S. domestic politics and U.S. policies towards Russia,” Sharikov said. 

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China’s Political System Helps Advance Its Artificial Intelligence

Recent technological advances demonstrated by China have started an intense debate on whether it is set to take a lead in the field of artificial intelligence, or AI, which has extensive business and military applications.

U.S. concerns about China’s AI advances have also influenced, in part, the ongoing trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing. Both the United States and European Union are taking measures to stop information leaks that are reportedly helping Chinese companies at the expense of Western business.

But many analysts are saying that Chinese corporate and defense-related research in areas like AI and 5G wireless technologies can thrive on their own even if information from the Western world is shut off. China is already reportedly leading in several segments of businesses like autonomous vehicles, facial recognition and certain kinds of drones.

The U.S.-based Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence recently captured attention when it reported that China is a close second after the United States when it comes to producing frequently-cited research papers on artificial intelligence. The U.S. contribution is 29%, and China accounts for 26% of such papers.

“The U.S. still is ahead in AI development capabilities, but the gap between the U.S. and China is closing rapidly because of the significant new AI investments in China,” Bart Selman, president-elect of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, a professional organization, told VOA.

Political advantage

Chinese President Xi Jinping has in recent months encouraged Communist leaders to “ensure that our country marches in the front ranks when it comes to theoretical research in this important area of AI, and occupies the high ground in critical and AI core technologies.” He also asked them to “ensure that critical and core AI technologies are firmly grasped in our own hands.”

Analysts said China’s political system and its government’s eagerness to support the technological advancement were key reasons it could build infrastructure such as cloud computing and a software engineering workforce, and become a big player in artificial intelligence.

Chinese companies enjoy special advantages in deploying new technology like facial recognition, which is often difficult in democratic countries like the U.S., said William Carter, deputy director and fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“China does have strengths in terms of application development and deployment, and has the potential to take the lead in the deployment of some technologies like autonomous vehicles and facial recognition where ethical, social and policy hurdles may impede deployment in the U.S. and other parts of the world,” Carter said.

China’s capabilities in image and facial recognition are possibly the best in the world, partly because government controls have made it easier to generate data from a wide range of sources like banks, mobile phone companies and social media.

“These capabilities arise out of the use of deep learning on very large data sets. In general, China has the advantage of having more real world data to train AI systems on … than any other country,” Selman said.

Other areas where China has shown significant advances are natural language processing (in Chinese only) and drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) swarming.

“China also has unique capabilities that are not found in the U.S. or Europe. I’m thinking of electronic payment platforms [e.g. AliPay] and the super app WeChat that provide an advanced platform for the rapid introduction of further AI technologies,” Selman said.

U.S. role

Last February, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order asking government agencies to do more with AI.

“Continued American leadership in artificial intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” Trump was quoted as saying in an official press release accompanying the order.

Critics have said that Trump’s order does not suggest enhanced government investment and plans for attracting fresh talent in AI research and development, which is essential for growth and industry competition.

Gregory Allen is an adjunct senior fellow with the research group Center for a New American Security. He was recently quoted as saying that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is spending the most on research and development at $2 billion over five years. In contrast, the Chinese province of Shanghai, which is a city government, is planning to spend $15 billion on AI over 10 years.

“So literally, we have the U.S. federal government at present at risk of being outspent by a provincial government of China,” Allen said.

China’s AI capabilities have limits. They suffer from major weaknesses in areas like advanced semiconductors to support machine learning applications.

“At the end of the day, when it comes to most major AI fields, China is not the technological leader and is not the source of most foundational innovations,” Carter said. 

The U.S. still dominates in the overall market for self-driving car technology, machine translation, natural language understanding, and web search. China has gained a strong presence in a few segments of these businesses, largely because of its vast domestic market.

Despite the competition, collaboration and exchange of ideas occur between the two countries in the AI field, although this aspect is less discussed, Carter added.

“Politically, the dynamic is more competitive; economically and scientifically, it is more collaborative,” he said.

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China’s Political System Helps Advance Its Artificial Intelligence

Recent technological advances demonstrated by China have started an intense debate on whether it is set to take a lead in the field of artificial intelligence, or AI, which has extensive business and military applications.

U.S. concerns about China’s AI advances have also influenced, in part, the ongoing trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing. Both the United States and European Union are taking measures to stop information leaks that are reportedly helping Chinese companies at the expense of Western business.

But many analysts are saying that Chinese corporate and defense-related research in areas like AI and 5G wireless technologies can thrive on their own even if information from the Western world is shut off. China is already reportedly leading in several segments of businesses like autonomous vehicles, facial recognition and certain kinds of drones.

The U.S.-based Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence recently captured attention when it reported that China is a close second after the United States when it comes to producing frequently-cited research papers on artificial intelligence. The U.S. contribution is 29%, and China accounts for 26% of such papers.

“The U.S. still is ahead in AI development capabilities, but the gap between the U.S. and China is closing rapidly because of the significant new AI investments in China,” Bart Selman, president-elect of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, a professional organization, told VOA.

Political advantage

Chinese President Xi Jinping has in recent months encouraged Communist leaders to “ensure that our country marches in the front ranks when it comes to theoretical research in this important area of AI, and occupies the high ground in critical and AI core technologies.” He also asked them to “ensure that critical and core AI technologies are firmly grasped in our own hands.”

Analysts said China’s political system and its government’s eagerness to support the technological advancement were key reasons it could build infrastructure such as cloud computing and a software engineering workforce, and become a big player in artificial intelligence.

Chinese companies enjoy special advantages in deploying new technology like facial recognition, which is often difficult in democratic countries like the U.S., said William Carter, deputy director and fellow in the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“China does have strengths in terms of application development and deployment, and has the potential to take the lead in the deployment of some technologies like autonomous vehicles and facial recognition where ethical, social and policy hurdles may impede deployment in the U.S. and other parts of the world,” Carter said.

China’s capabilities in image and facial recognition are possibly the best in the world, partly because government controls have made it easier to generate data from a wide range of sources like banks, mobile phone companies and social media.

“These capabilities arise out of the use of deep learning on very large data sets. In general, China has the advantage of having more real world data to train AI systems on … than any other country,” Selman said.

Other areas where China has shown significant advances are natural language processing (in Chinese only) and drone (unmanned aerial vehicle) swarming.

“China also has unique capabilities that are not found in the U.S. or Europe. I’m thinking of electronic payment platforms [e.g. AliPay] and the super app WeChat that provide an advanced platform for the rapid introduction of further AI technologies,” Selman said.

U.S. role

Last February, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order asking government agencies to do more with AI.

“Continued American leadership in artificial intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” Trump was quoted as saying in an official press release accompanying the order.

Critics have said that Trump’s order does not suggest enhanced government investment and plans for attracting fresh talent in AI research and development, which is essential for growth and industry competition.

Gregory Allen is an adjunct senior fellow with the research group Center for a New American Security. He was recently quoted as saying that the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is spending the most on research and development at $2 billion over five years. In contrast, the Chinese province of Shanghai, which is a city government, is planning to spend $15 billion on AI over 10 years.

“So literally, we have the U.S. federal government at present at risk of being outspent by a provincial government of China,” Allen said.

China’s AI capabilities have limits. They suffer from major weaknesses in areas like advanced semiconductors to support machine learning applications.

“At the end of the day, when it comes to most major AI fields, China is not the technological leader and is not the source of most foundational innovations,” Carter said. 

The U.S. still dominates in the overall market for self-driving car technology, machine translation, natural language understanding, and web search. China has gained a strong presence in a few segments of these businesses, largely because of its vast domestic market.

Despite the competition, collaboration and exchange of ideas occur between the two countries in the AI field, although this aspect is less discussed, Carter added.

“Politically, the dynamic is more competitive; economically and scientifically, it is more collaborative,” he said.

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NASA Launches Chicago Planetarium’s Student Project into Space

College student Fatima Guerra, 19, will be the first to admit, she’s into some really nerdy stuff.

“Like, up there nerdy.”

“Way up there nerdy,” she says. “All the way up into space.”

Guerra is an astronomer in training, involved since a high school internship with a small project at the Adler Planetarium, with big goals.

“Our main goal was to see if the ozone layer is getting thinner and by how much, and if there is different parts of the Earth’s atmosphere getting thinner because of the pollution and greenhouse gases,” she told VOA from the laboratory at the Adler where she often works.

​Coding ThinSat

Data that sheds light on those circumstances is gathered by a small electronic device called “ThinSat” designed to orbit the Earth. It is developed not by high-paid engineers and software programmers, but by Chicago-area students like Guerra.

“We focused on coding the different parts of the sensors that the ThinSat is composed of. So, we coded so that it can measure light intensity, pressure.”

“This stuff is very nerdy,” Jesus Garcia admits with a chuckle.

“What we hope to accomplish is look at Earth from space as if it was the very first exoplanet that we have. So, imagine that we are looking at the very first images from a very distant planet.”

As a systems engineer, Garcia oversees the work of the students developing ThinSat for the Adler’s Far Horizon’s Project, which he outlines “bring all types of students, volunteers and our staff to develop projects, engineering projects, that allow us to answer scientific questions.”

Garcia says the students he works with on the project cross national, racial and cultural divides to work toward a common goal.

“Here at the Adler, we have students who are minorities who have been faced with challenges of not having opportunities presented to them,” he said. “And here we are presenting a mission where they are collaborating with us scientists and engineers on our first mission that is going into space.”

Rocket carries project into space

As the NASA-owned, Northrop Grumann-developed Antares rocket successfully blasted off from the coast of Virginia on April 17, it wasn’t just making a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

On board was ThinSat, the culmination of work by many at the Adler, including Guerra, who joined the Far Horizons team as a high school requirement that ended up becoming much more.

“A requirement can become a life-changing opportunity, and you don’t even know it,” she told VOA. “It’s really exciting to see, or to know, especially, that my work is going to go up into space and help in the scientific world.”

Daughter of immigrants

It is also exciting for her parents, immigrants from Guatemala, who can boast that their daughter is one of the few who can claim to have built a satellite orbiting the Earth.

“I told them it might become a worldwide type of news, and I’m going to be a part of it. And they were really proud. And they were calling my family over there and saying, ‘She might be on TV.’ And it’s something they really feel a part of me about,” Guerra said.

Long after the data compiled by ThinSat is complete, Guerro will still have a place in history as a member of a team that put the first satellite developed by a private planetarium into space.

She says her friends don’t think that’s nerdy at all.

“It’s cool, because it’s interesting to see that something so nerdy is actually going to work, and is going to go up into something so important,” she said.

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NASA Launches Chicago Planetarium’s Student Project into Space

College student Fatima Guerra, 19, will be the first to admit, she’s into some really nerdy stuff.

“Like, up there nerdy.”

“Way up there nerdy,” she says. “All the way up into space.”

Guerra is an astronomer in training, involved since a high school internship with a small project at the Adler Planetarium, with big goals.

“Our main goal was to see if the ozone layer is getting thinner and by how much, and if there is different parts of the Earth’s atmosphere getting thinner because of the pollution and greenhouse gases,” she told VOA from the laboratory at the Adler where she often works.

​Coding ThinSat

Data that sheds light on those circumstances is gathered by a small electronic device called “ThinSat” designed to orbit the Earth. It is developed not by high-paid engineers and software programmers, but by Chicago-area students like Guerra.

“We focused on coding the different parts of the sensors that the ThinSat is composed of. So, we coded so that it can measure light intensity, pressure.”

“This stuff is very nerdy,” Jesus Garcia admits with a chuckle.

“What we hope to accomplish is look at Earth from space as if it was the very first exoplanet that we have. So, imagine that we are looking at the very first images from a very distant planet.”

As a systems engineer, Garcia oversees the work of the students developing ThinSat for the Adler’s Far Horizon’s Project, which he outlines “bring all types of students, volunteers and our staff to develop projects, engineering projects, that allow us to answer scientific questions.”

Garcia says the students he works with on the project cross national, racial and cultural divides to work toward a common goal.

“Here at the Adler, we have students who are minorities who have been faced with challenges of not having opportunities presented to them,” he said. “And here we are presenting a mission where they are collaborating with us scientists and engineers on our first mission that is going into space.”

Rocket carries project into space

As the NASA-owned, Northrop Grumann-developed Antares rocket successfully blasted off from the coast of Virginia on April 17, it wasn’t just making a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

On board was ThinSat, the culmination of work by many at the Adler, including Guerra, who joined the Far Horizons team as a high school requirement that ended up becoming much more.

“A requirement can become a life-changing opportunity, and you don’t even know it,” she told VOA. “It’s really exciting to see, or to know, especially, that my work is going to go up into space and help in the scientific world.”

Daughter of immigrants

It is also exciting for her parents, immigrants from Guatemala, who can boast that their daughter is one of the few who can claim to have built a satellite orbiting the Earth.

“I told them it might become a worldwide type of news, and I’m going to be a part of it. And they were really proud. And they were calling my family over there and saying, ‘She might be on TV.’ And it’s something they really feel a part of me about,” Guerra said.

Long after the data compiled by ThinSat is complete, Guerro will still have a place in history as a member of a team that put the first satellite developed by a private planetarium into space.

She says her friends don’t think that’s nerdy at all.

“It’s cool, because it’s interesting to see that something so nerdy is actually going to work, and is going to go up into something so important,” she said.

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