- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

NASA has started beaming live video from just outside the International Space Station, but there’s a catch: The online feeds are available only when the station’s crew is asleep or off duty.

That’s because NASA has only four communications links for sending data to Earth and wants to have all of them free for day-to-day operations while the crew is awake and working, agency spokesman Kelly Humphries said.

NASA also opted not to show video from inside the cramped space station to give astronauts privacy. “It would be like Big Brother looking over your shoulder 24/7,” he said.

When the crew is asleep and the Web streaming is going on, remote cameras will show Earth or other parts of the sky as seen from the space station, or parts of the station’s exterior as it orbits 225 miles above Earth.

The rest of the time, while the crew is awake, viewers will get an illustration showing the station’s current location or live NASA television coverage of breaking space events.

The live Internet feed will include audio from mission control to the station.

NASA already produces about an hour a day of live television coverage from the space station with commentary from Johnson Space Center in Houston. That program will now be available on NASA’s Web site, as well.

MIT professor wins $250,000 Turing Award

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor won the $250,000 Turing Award, one of the most prestigious honors in computing, for helping to make computer programs more reliable, secure and easy to use.

Barbara Liskov, only the second woman to win the prize, was honored Tuesday for pioneering new designs in computer languages that gird everyday digital applications.

“Her exceptional achievements have leapt from the halls of academia to transform daily life around the world,” MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif said. “Every time you exchange e-mail with a friend, check your bank statement online or run a Google search, you are riding the momentum of her research.”

The Association for Computing Machinery, which awards the Turing, said Ms. Liskov revolutionized the programming field after she was the first U.S. woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in computer science, which she got from Stanford University in 1968. Ms. Liskov has been an MIT professor since 1972.

Ms. Liskov’s early work in software design has been incorporated into major programming languages for more than three decades. Her innovations in data abstraction — a way of organizing complex programs — has helped made software easier to write, modify and maintain.

In an interview, Ms. Liskov explained that her work “has to do with ‘modularity,’ taking complex systems and breaking them into small pieces to keep them simple.”

The Turing Award, to be presented June 27 in San Diego, is named for the late British mathematician Alan Turing. Past winners include Internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn.

Its prize money comes from Google Inc. and Intel Corp.

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