“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”
NASA’s Curiosity rover is making an unscheduled stop on its way up Mount Sharp on Mars, for a close-up look at a collection of actively moving sand dunes. Images from orbit indicate that the Bagnold Dunes are migrating as much as about 3 feet per Earth year, and includes one particular dune that is about two-stories high and as broad as a football field. Researchers plan to have the rover take samples for analysis. No active dunes have ever been visited anywhere else in the solar system besides Earth.
Technicians at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans have finished welding three cone panels to the pressure vessel of the Orion spacecraft crew module that will fly beyond the moon on Exploration Mission-1. The pressure vessel, which holds an atmosphere inside the crew module so astronauts can breathe, is made of seven large aluminum pieces that must be welded together in detailed fashion. When the remaining pieces are welded on, it will be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, for processing and final preparations for its launch atop NASA’s Space Launch System rocket.
At the Kennedy Space Center, preparations continue for the Dec. 3 launch of Orbital ATK’s enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the International Space Station. This will be the first flight of the enhanced Cygnus, which can transport more than 7,000 pounds of cargo. It will also be the first time a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is used to launch a payload to the space station. Cygnus will deliver an array of food, experiments and supplies for the crew aboard the station.
Student CubeSat onboard Cygnus
The cargo delivered to the space station by the enhanced Cygnus will also include the first CubeSat launched into space by an elementary school. The STMSat-1 is a CubeSat built by students at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, Virginia, and is designed to capture and transmit images of Earth back to ground stations at St. Thomas More and other schools around the country. The project has been supported by NASA engineer Joe Pellegrino, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
New crew access tower components
Engineers working near Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, continue to make progress on assembly of hardware for the new Commercial Crew Access Tower. Recently, the tower’s White Room was connected to the Crew Access Arm. Astronauts will walk across the access arm and through the White Room to enter Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft prior to future launches. The two components will be tested extensively before being trucked to Cape Canaveral and installed onto the crew access tower in the summer of 2016.
CineSpace film competition
The recent Houston Cinema Arts Festival featured the awards ceremony for the first CineSpace film competition. A partnership between NASA and the Houston Cinema Arts Society, the competition gave filmmakers around the world a chance to share works inspired by and using actual NASA imagery. Astronaut Don Pettit presented the top 16 entries out of about 194 submitted from 22 countries and 32 U.S. states.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …
For more on these and other stories follow us on social media and visit www.nasa.gov/twan.