Science and Technology News

Friday, May 30, 2014

Navy Researchers and Collaborators Testing a Vaccine for Traveler's Diarrhea



By Doris Ryan, Naval Medical Research Center Public Affairs

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NNS) -- A vaccine to protect against Campylobacter jejuni was recently approved for human clinical trials by the Food and Drug Administration.

Researchers at the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) began an FDA approved phase 1 clinical trial for a C. jejuni vaccine at the Walter Reed Army Research Institute Clinical Trials Center in April. C. jejuni is a global health problem and is a leading cause of diarrhea in deployed military personnel and international travelers.

Dr. Patricia Guerry, a senior scientist at NMRC, was one of the first molecular microbiologists to address the health concerns of Campylobacter in the 1980s, a decade after it was first discovered and recognized as a cause of human diseases. Teaming up with Dr. Mario Monteiro, from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, Guerry oversaw the design and development of a prototype C. jejuni vaccine.

"Work on conjugate vaccines against C. jejuni started in 2004 and the initial studies were done in parallel with other vaccine approaches," said Guerry. "These initial promising studies demonstrated immunogenicity in mice. A prototype vaccine is being used in this clinical trial with the primary aim of evaluating the safety of this vaccine and immune responses."

This phase 1 study will enroll up to 48 healthy volunteers to determine safety and dosing levels. Cmdr. Robert Gormley is leading the study.

"We are vaccinating up to 48 volunteers with an injection to the upper arm," Gormley said. "Since this is a dose escalation study, we are vaccinating sixteen volunteers with a low dose before subsequently vaccinating an additional two groups of sixteen each at higher doses. It is hoped that at the end of the study, the results will allow the research team to take the vaccine into a phase 2 study where volunteers will be vaccinated to see if it protects against Campylobacter in a human challenge study."

He added that the emerging epidemiology and understanding of campylobacter-attributed burden in military personnel, travelers and global populations combined with the promising development of the Campylobacter vaccine may lead to wider interest in the development of a vaccine against this disease.

Diarrhea has historically been a substantial cause of morbidity for deployed U.S. military personnel and continues to the present day.

The NMRC Enteric Diseases Department's research program is centered on the development of effective countermeasures to prevent or abate bacterial diarrhea, with most efforts aimed at vaccine research and development. NMRC researchers have identified many surface structures of the bacteria, found how it invades human cells, and characterized many aspects of the immune response. This work continues with the use of comparative genomics, expression arrays, and studies to try to better understand the protective immune response, all of which will enable researchers to develop an effective vaccine.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

AEDC adds Jet-A fuel to turbine engine testing fuel supply

by Raquel March
Arnold Engineering Development Complex Public Affairs


5/28/2014 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- The Arnold Engineering Development Complex fuel farm is replacing JP-8 fuel, used by turbine engine testing customers in the Complex's aeropropulsion test facilities, with commercial grade Jet-A fuel.

"The main difference between JP-8 and Jet-A is the fuel freezing point specification," said Gary Chain, a terminal manager in the Aerospace Testing Alliance Utilities and Engineering Services Branch. "Jet-A, which is a kerosene-based aviation fuel, has a higher fuel freeze point specification limit than JP-8 -- minus 40 degrees Celsius for Jet-A versus minus 47 degrees Celsius for JP-8."

JP-8 fuel contains a military additive package that isn't a part of the Jet-A fuel composition. However, the MAP will be added for AEDC customers.

Chain said there is an ongoing study within the Department of Defense and Air Force Petroleum Agency to determine what additives are still required for which airframe and in what quantities.

The additives contained in the MAP limits static buildup in fuel, inhibits icing and microbiological growth, eliminates corrosion, reduces friction, prevents peroxide formation in stored fuel and improves thermal stability.

The fuel transition is nearing completion and has the potential to save the DOD more than $40 million annually in fuel costs. Savings may be seen in product and handling costs due to better access and use of commercial pipelines.

"We ... have been making the conversion to Jet-A for several months," Chain said. "At the present time we have one [turbine engine test] cell that is continuing to use JP-8. At the completion of this test, AEDC will no longer be receiving or using JP-8 as its primary test fuel."

AEDC may use in excess of five million gallons of aviation fuel this fiscal year.

The Complex's fuel farm has the ability to provide multiple fuels such as Iso-Paraffinic Kerosene, Camelina, Tallow, JP-4, JP-5, JP-8 and F-76. The fuels can be distributed to multiple test cells simultaneously.

Test and Evaluation Report on Through-the-Wall Sensors



Through-the-Wall Sensors (TTWS) for Law Enforcement: Test & Evaluation (Version 1.2) discusses the test and evaluation (T&E) efforts that the Sensor, Surveillance, and Biometric Technologies Center of Excellence performed on through-the-wall sensors that are available commercially, and evaluates the performance of an NIJ-sponsored prototype sensor. Each device is described, as are any operational factors that may affect its usability. The T&E activities and their results are explained so interested parties can consider whether any particular test or set of tests is relevant for their organizations’ specific needs and intended end use. Tor read the report, go to https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/245944.pdf. (The National Institute of Justice has made this report available through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service. (This report is the result of an NIJ-funded project but was not published by the U.S. Department of Justice.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

DOD Improves Field Energy Use to Strengthen Force



By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2014 – Energy is a critical mission enabler to the Defense Department, a DOD official told a Senate panel here last week.

Edward Thomas Morehouse Jr., principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, testified May 21 at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee.

“If you take away one thing from my testimony today, [I] hope it’s this: It’s the goal of [the Defense Department] to strengthen our military capabilities by improving how we use energy in the field, particularly reducing the burdens and risks from our energy supply lines,” Morehouse said.

“Using energy more wisely will enable us to fly and sail farther, to loiter or remain on station longer, and give us supply lines that are more secure, requiring less forces, fewer lives and less money to sustain,” he added.

As U.S. military forces rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, energy could present a greater concern than it has before, he said. “The vast distances, increased logistical challenges and potential adversaries are likely to have more formidable capabilities to target us with more precision and at longer range, putting our supply lines at greater risk to attack,” he explained.

In determining DOD’s energy costs and how that funding would be used for fiscal year 2015, Morehouse told the Senate panel the department estimates using about 96 million barrels of fuel, at a cost of nearly $15 billion. DOD also will invest $1.7 billion to improve how energy is used for military operations, and about $9 billion across the Five-year Defense Plan, he said, adding that 92 percent of the investment will be used to improve energy performance of weapons and military forces, and another 7 percent will be used to diversify and securing supplies of operational energy.

“We've made a great deal of progress,” he said. “With energy and energy logistics now being incorporated into major war games, and as a mandatory performance parameter in our requirements development process, … understanding how energy affects our operations is becoming more deeply understood.”

For the future of the force, DOD will continue promoting operational energy innovation and look at how global energy dynamics affect national security and shape defense missions, Morehouse told the panel.

DOD also will continue to support deployed forces with energy solutions, “from rapid fielding of new technologies to adapting war plans to incorporating energy into international partnerships,” he said.

Climate Change Affects National Defense Decisions, Official Says



By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2014 – Climate change is among the factors Defense Department officials consider in protect national security around the globe, a senior DOD official told a Senate panel here last week.

Daniel Y. Chiu, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy, testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee May 21.

Chiu said while DOD plans for contingencies and unexpected developments to protect the nation’s security, climate change can create sea-level rise, storm surge, shifting climate zones and more severe weather conditions that can affect operations. And while some of those conditions have affected military installations, he said, such changes can also have a negative impact on other DOD concerns.

“We are also seeing the potential for decreased capacity of DOD properties to support training, as well as implications for supply chains, equipment, vehicles and weapon systems that the department buys,” he explained.

Even while infrastructures are being adapted to climate change threats, DOD also is conducting a baseline study to determine which infrastructure elements are most vulnerable to extreme weather events and sea-level increases, he said, adding that the study is due for completion late this year.

Climate change effects potentially could alter, limit or constrain environments where troops operate, Chiu said, using sea-level increases as an example of an impact on amphibious operations.

Another demonstration of climate change’s effects is diminishing sea ice in the Arctic region, he said, which can make the Arctic Ocean “increasingly accessible.” While such a scenario is a “decades-long dynamic,” he said, the region must now be monitored.

DOD’s Arctic strategy, released in November, seeks through U.S. leadership and collaboration to “preserve an Arctic region that remains free of military conflict in which nations act responsibly and cooperatively and where economic and energy resources are developed in a safe and sustainable manner,” Chiu said.

To carry out the strategy, DOD will ensure security, support and safety, promote defense cooperation and prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies that include consideration of the Arctic region, he added.

“[DOD] is working to better understand how the impacts of climate change will affect our planning and operations in the [United States] and abroad,” Chiu told the panel. “We're working to take into consideration the impacts of climate change in our longer-term planning scenarios, so we can think about how it will affect our humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities over time [and] look at our efforts to plan and enhance the capacity of partner militaries so they can plan for and respond to natural disasters.”

DOD also will address implications for potentially higher demands for defense support to U.S. civil authorities because of extreme weather events, Chiu said.

Given the nature of climate change and its effects, Chui said, the U.S. response requires a whole-of-government approach and international collaboration, which he called “the bedrock of our efforts.”

“By taking a proactive approach to assessment, analysis and adaptation, DOD can definitely manage the risks posed by the impacts of climate change and minimize the effects on the department while continuing to protect our national security interests through strong leadership,” Chiu said.

Satellite Phone increase technology for Hurricane Hunters

by Master Sgt. Brian Lamar
403rd Public Affairs


5/21/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- On Oct 12, 1974, six airmen were preparing their WC-130H to fly into Typhoon Bess. The last time anyone ever heard from the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Typhoon Hunters" was when their position was radioed in to Clark Air Force Base at 10 p.m. 400 miles northwest of the coast of the Philippines.

Crash investigators later speculated that a catastrophic event had sent the plane into the churning waters below. No emergency radio communication was ever received from the aircraft, known as call sign Swan 38.

Technology and communication equipment has improved vastly since 1974. To further enhance communication capabilities, the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron Hurricane Hunters upgraded to commercial Iridium satellite phones. This year, all 10 of the WC-130J Hurricane Hunting aircraft will have Satphones installed into the aircraft.

"We have been working on getting the phones in the aircraft for a few years now, this will help us tremendously," said Lt. Col. Robert Stanton, Operations Group deputy commander.

Even with technology advances since the late 70s with current radios, the aircraft has to be within line-of-sight to another radio tower or use High Frequency Band radios, which the signal also diminishes during a storm.

"We tend to fly fairly low and a lot of times were not in their radar coverage so they can't see us and they can't talk to us because we're too low and all this stuff is line of sight," said Talbot.

Talking to Air Traffic Control becomes imperative when venturing into another country's airspace.

"Often, we [Hurricane Hunters] will need to gain clearance from control and ... to ensure another aircraft isn't nearby but we couldn't because the radio communication failed," Talbot explained.

In January, the first of 10 aircraft successfully completed the installation and communication testing began to ensure all the satphones were functioning properly. Currently five aircraft have been upgraded and the other half of the Hunter fleet should be completed by July.

"The phones worked perfectly, we now have a capability to call the National Hurricane Center and give them updates and discuss the data we are seeing during a storm," said Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, the 53rd WRS chief meteorologist.

Before the additional phones, the Hurricane Hunters could text information, but had no capability to discuss what they were seeing while in the air.

As an added layer of safety through communication, the Hurricane Hunters will now have this tool to more efficiently and safely complete their job and a potential catastrophic emergency like the one that took Swan 38 could be avoided.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

USecAF touts Air Force capabilities at 30th Space Symposium

by Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie
Air Force Public Affairs Agency


5/22/2014 - WASHINGTON -- At an annual gathering of civil, military and industry professionals from across the globe, Under Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning emphasized Air Force contributions through space and cyberspace.

Fanning was the featured keynote speaker during the 30th Space Symposium dinner May 20 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The under secretary said Air Force missions are not only global but complex -- and operate in multiple places and domains, like space and cyberspace, that people don't necessarily know about or see.

"We are not just a warfighting service," explained Fanning, who is the focal point on the Air Force staff for space operations, policy and acquisition. "We are also an intelligence service - (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), cyber and space together. We are one-stop shopping for the president. We can tell him what's going on anywhere in the world - and if he wants us to - we can do something about it, anywhere in the world, anytime."

The under secretary said the Air Force has provided this type of support, not just to the president, but to combatant commanders for decades.

"Space power has also been a key element of warfighting for more than 30 years, providing a unique vantage to observe activity around the globe, relay terrestrial communications and provide precision position information," Fanning said.

However, space is not just a one-nation show, Fanning said, and that a global domain requires a global team.

He mentioned multiple international agreements and said the Air Force has recently furthered defense cooperation by establishing a partnership with Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom on combined space operations.

"Combined space operations allow better collaboration on space activities that we agree are most critical, such as identifying objects in orbit and understanding what they're doing, avoiding satellite collisions and contributing towards a safer, more secure space environment," Fanning said.

He also said the Air Force is working hard to reduce spending while ensuring delivery of necessary space capabilities to the warfighter. For example, the Air Force found significant savings in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program with long-term contracts and is supporting new entrants for certification.

While launch costs are a concern, Fanning said he also wants to make sure the Air Force has reasonable and resilient satellite programs.

"A larger constellation of smaller satellites might be more affordable for some missions, so that even if one satellite fails, there will be others that can pick up the slack," Fanning said. "That is the benefit of creating a resilient architecture."

Fanning explained the reason for a resilient architecture relies not only on the fact that debris exists in space that can potentially damage or eliminate a satellite, but also because space is no longer considered a sanctuary.

"We cannot assume that our deployed systems will either be inaccessible or unnoticed, and thus undisturbed," Fanning said. "Our potential adversaries are well aware of the distinct advantages that our space systems provide us, and they are developing counter-space capabilities in pursuit of asymmetric goals."

Fanning also acknowledged the work of both government and industry professionals in developing space capabilities into the ubiquitous assets they are today and he emphasized working within current budget constraints.

"Thank you for the work you have done to advance our capabilities in space," Fanning said. "I challenge you to continue to help ensure we maintain a leading edge in space now and 30 years from now, particularly in this challenging political and fiscal environment."

Fanning Touts Air Force Space, Cyber Capabilities



By Air Force Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie
Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2014 – At an annual gathering of civil, military and industry professionals from across the globe, Undersecretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning emphasized Air Force contributions through space and cyberspace.

Fanning was the featured keynote speaker at the May 20 Space Symposium dinner held in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The undersecretary said Air Force missions are not only global but complex, and operate in multiple places and domains like space and cyberspace, that people don’t necessarily know about or see.

“We are not just a warfighting service,” explained Fanning, who is the focal point on the Air Force staff for space operations, policy and acquisition. “We are also an intelligence service -- (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), cyber and space together. We are one-stop shopping for the president. We can tell him what’s going on anywhere in the world -- and if he wants us to -- we can do something about it, anywhere in the world, anytime.”

The undersecretary said the Air Force has provided this type of support, not just to the president, but to combatant commanders for decades.

“Space power has also been a key element of warfighting for more than 30 years, providing a unique vantage to observe activity around the globe, relay terrestrial communications and provide precision position information,” Fanning said.

However, space is not just a one-nation show, he said, and that a global domain requires a global team.

He pointed multiple international agreements and said the Air Force has recently furthered defense cooperation by establishing a partnership with Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom on combined space operations.

“Combined space operations allow better collaboration on space activities that we agree are most critical, such as identifying objects in orbit and understanding what they're doing, avoiding satellite collisions and contributing towards a safer, more secure space environment,” Fanning said.

He also said the Air Force is working hard to reduce spending while ensuring delivery of necessary space capabilities to the warfighter. For example, the Air Force found significant savings in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program with long-term contracts and is supporting new entrants for certification.

While launch costs are a concern, Fanning said he also wants to make sure the Air Force has reasonable and resilient satellite programs.

“A larger constellation of smaller satellites might be more affordable for some missions, so that even if one satellite fails, there will be others that can pick up the slack,” Fanning said. “That is the benefit of creating a resilient architecture.”

Fanning explained the reason for a resilient architecture relies not only on the fact that debris exists in space that can potentially damage or eliminate a satellite, but also because space is no longer considered a sanctuary.

“We cannot assume that our deployed systems will either be inaccessible or unnoticed, and thus undisturbed,” Fanning said. “Our potential adversaries are well aware of the distinct advantages that our space systems provide us, and they are developing counter-space capabilities in pursuit of asymmetric goals.”

Fanning also acknowledged the work of both government and industry professionals in developing space capabilities into the ubiquitous assets they are today and he emphasized working within current budget constraints.

“Thank you for the work you have done to advance our capabilities in space,” he said. “I challenge you to continue to help ensure we maintain a leading edge in space now and 30 years from now, particularly in this challenging political and fiscal environment.”