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Microsoft and NASA offer some ideas about how you could apply Python for space exploration

Microsoft has teamed up with NASA to create three project-based learning modules that teach entry-level coders how to use the Python programming language and machine-learning algorithms to explore space, classify space rocks and predict weather and rocket-launch delays.

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Students need a Windows, Mac or Linux computer to complete the modules, which teach the basics of what a programming language is, how to use Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code (VS Code) code editor, install extensions for Python, and how to run a basic Jupyter Notebook within VS Code – some of the key ingredients to get started on a machine-learning project.

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Microsoft’s learning modules don’t actually teach anything about how to code in Python but rather offer some ideas, focussing on NASA’s space exploration activities, to illustrate how Python could be used in space exploration.

It might suit students learning to code who need some ideas for how that knowledge could be applied to solving challenges NASA faces, or those considering programming to see how Python could be used.

The Introduction to Python for Space Exploration module contains eight units and offers background on NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, which aims to land the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024.

It also details key technology behind the program, such as exploration ground systems, the space launch system, human landing systems, communication systems and more.

There’s not much information about how to learn Python in the first module, but it does explain how machines and robots used in lunar exploration give computer scientists and developers an important role, alongside astronauts and geologists. 

“Deciding how to program a robot to collect rock samples, collect metadata, and not disturb the sample area, is non-trivial, especially when you consider that developers can’t test the robots in a truly accurate environment before sending them on the mission,” it explains.

The second module, Classify space rocks by using Python and artificial intelligence, also has eight units and requires some “Python experience”. It details key data analysis and data visualization libraries for Python, such as PyTorch. Of course, Microsoft plugs its Azure AI services, too.

Again, there’s no real information about how to start programming in Python, but it explains how AI can be used to improve space rock research. For example, astronauts with a computer could take photos of rocks in space to quickly identify the type of rock it is.

The module for predicting rocket launch delays with machine learning explores what kinds of algorithms are more suitable for different types of analysis, such as classifying images, predicting values and generating recommendations. It also offers a high-level overview of training a machine-learning model.

While Microsoft’s NASA lesson doesn’t offer any actual lessons in Python programming, the company has previously released free video tutorials that do aim to learn Python. (Source:”Zdnet.com”)

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Enroll in free courses by Microsoft, EY & Coursera to hone your skills

Coursera was founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng with a vision of providing life-transforming learning experiences to anyone, anywhere. It is now a leading online learning platform for higher education, where 64 million learners from around the world come to learn skills of the future. More than 200 of the world’s top universities and industry educators partner with Coursera to offer courses, Specializations, certificates, and degree programs. 2,500 companies trust the company’s enterprise platform Coursera for Business to transform their talent. Coursera for Government equips government employees and citizens with in-demand skills to build a competitive workforce. Coursera for Campus empowers any university to offer high-quality, job-relevant online education to students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Coursera is backed by leading investors that include Kleiner Perkins, New Enterprise Associates, Learn Capital, and SEEK Group. 

Last month, online learning platform Coursera announced that it was offering 90 per cent of its online classes to college students for free until September 30th. Current undergraduate, graduate and recent graduates will gain access to 3,800 classes, 150 Guided Projects, 400 Specializations and 11 Professional Certificates.

Students can enrol in programs until July 31st and must complete them before September 30th. As a bonus, there is no limit to how many classes students can enroll in.

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On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a new worldwide initiative to provide free training for candidates looking to acquire digital skills to land in-demand jobs in a post Covid-19 economy.

The program, which includes access to low-cost certifications, will combine data and learning content from Microsoft and its subsidiaries, LinkedIn and GitHub and will feature video courses covering everything from basic digital literacy to more advanced technical skills.

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GUIDED PROJECT

Learn a job-relevant skill that you can use today in under 2 hours through an interactive experience guided by a subject matter expert. Access everything you need right in your browser and complete your project confidently with step-by-step instructions.

COURSE

Take courses from the world’s best instructors and universities. Courses include recorded auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, video lectures, and community discussion forums. When you complete a course, you’ll be eligible to receive a shareable electronic Course Certificate for a small fee.

SPECIALIZATION

Enroll in a Specialization to master a specific career skill. You’ll complete a series of rigorous courses, tackle hands-on projects, and earn a Specialization Certificate to share with your professional network and potential employers.

 
PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATE

Whether you’re looking to start a new career or change your current one, Professional Certificates on Coursera help you become job ready. Learn at your own pace from top companies and universities, apply your new skills to hands-on projects that showcase your expertise to potential employers, and earn a career credential to kickstart your new career.

MASTERTRACK™ CERTIFICATE

With MasterTrack™ Certificates, portions of Master’s programs have been split into online modules, so you can earn a high quality university-issued career credential at a breakthrough price in a flexible, interactive format. Benefit from a deeply engaging learning experience with real-world projects and live, expert instruction. If you are accepted to the full Master’s program, your MasterTrack coursework counts towards your degree.

DEGREE

Transform your resume with a degree from a top university for a breakthrough price. Our modular degree learning experience gives you the ability to study online anytime and earn credit as you complete your course assignments. You’ll receive the same credential as students who attend class on campus. Coursera degrees cost much less than comparable on-campus programs.