• The International Space Station in late 2002.

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Hoffman anticipates delay in International Space Station

The Columbia disaster could significantly slow down completion of the International Space Station (ISS), Professor Jeffrey A. Hoffman told students in 16.S26 ("Modern Space Science and Engineering") on Feb. 5. Following the Challenger explosion, it was two and a half years before NASA launched another shuttle. If it takes that long to investigate and solve whatever caused the Columbia accident, construction of the ISS will be stalled.

"The biggest pieces [of the ISS] are carried up by the shuttle, by design," he said. Construction of the modular station began in 1998; completion was planned for 2005. Calling the ISS the "largest international scientific undertaking in human history," Hoffman said that "except for the cost overrun, construction was going brilliantly."

"The plan for 2003, before this horrible accident, was to finish the backbone of the station," said Hoffman. "But it's perfectly safe as it is now." The three crew members living on the ISS can leave any time on the Russian Soyuz attached to the station.

--Denise Brehm

Postdoc wins '1,000th-paper sweepstakes' in Wurtman lab

With a paper on how the release of platelet-activating factor causes pain, brain and cognitive sciences postdoctoral fellow Lisa Teather was the winner of the Richard J. Wurtman laboratory "sweepstakes" to see who would be the primary co-author of the lab's 1,000th paper. A celebratory gathering of current and former staff and faculty who had made important contributions to the lab's scientific and publishing efforts was held Jan. 30 in the Building E25 offices of Wurtman, the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor and associate program director of MIT's General Clinical Research Center.

Stellar 1.4 available gratis for all MIT classes

Stellar 1.4, MIT's new online system for supporting teaching and learning, is now available free of charge for all MIT classes. The system, which provides a supported framework for class materials, assignments and collaborations, presently hosts about 600 class web sites.

Stellar 1.4's new features include a mechanism for homework submission and management, tools for customizing navigation and an enhanced user interface. Faculty can limit access to their materials and transfer materials from old class sites to new ones.

For Stellar 1.4, Academic Media Production Services developers upgraded hardware and added several servers to increase robustness and meet increased demand. Extensive software and usability testing was done by both internal and external vendors to assure smooth operations.

Help for faculty members using Stellar is provided by Academic Computing Faculty Liaisons (f_l@mit.edu) and the IS Help Desk. Training is provided by the Information Services Training and Publications group. For additional information, contact amps-info@mit.edu or click here.

--Gayle C. Willman

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 12, 2003.


Topics: Aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Campus services

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