Science casts

Number Won 2016. 2. 6. 07:43
Feb. 6, 2016



This Week @ NASA, February 5, 2016




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Small satellites to hitchhike on SLS rocket’s first flight



During a Feb. 2 event at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, officials announced the selection of 13 low-cost small satellites to launch as secondary payloads on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) -- the first flight of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, targeted for 2018. SLS’ first flight is designed to launch an un-crewed Orion spacecraft to a stable orbit beyond the moon to demonstrate and test systems for both the spacecraft and rocket before the first crewed flight of Orion. The announced CubeSat secondary payloads will carry science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the Journey to Mars.



New Marshall Space Flight Center Director



Marshall Space Flight Center, which manages development of the SLS for NASA, has a new Center Director. on Feb. 1, Administrator Charlie Bolden named Todd May to the post. May had been serving as acting director since the November 2015 retirement of previous Center Director Patrick Scheuermann. Since 2011, May has successfully led the Space Launch System program through a series of developmental milestones. The SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built.



Webb Telescope’s final mirror installed



The 18th and final primary mirror segment on what will be the biggest and most powerful space telescope ever launched -- the James Webb Space Telescope -- was installed Feb. 4 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The installation is an important milestone in the assembly of the tennis court-sized infrared observatory. The Webb telescope will study every phase in the history of our universe, including the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets similar to Earth, as well as the evolution of our own solar system. Webb is targeted to launch in 2018.



Juno adjusts course to Jupiter



On Feb. 3, NASA's Juno spacecraft executed the first of two maneuvers to fine tune its course to its target destination -- Jupiter. The trajectory adjustment took place when the spacecraft was about 51 million miles from Jupiter and approximately 425 million miles from Earth. Juno will spend a year studying Jupiter’s atmosphere, interior and magnetosphere from an unprecedented perspective. This will improve our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of the planet. Juno, which is scheduled to rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4, will perform the next trajectory correction maneuver around late May.



Russian spacewalk on space station



Aboard the International Space Station, Russian cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos conducted a spacewalk on Feb. 3 to install experiment packages on the outside of the Russian segment of the station, retrieve some experiments that have been gathering data for several months, and install devices on the hull of the station to facilitate the movement of crew members on future spacewalks. The spacewalk was the 193rd in support of space station assembly and maintenance.



Hangar one’s Super Bowl Redwood



About eight acres of redwood planks previously used as roofing material for Ames Research Center’s iconic Hangar one at Moffett Field, California have found new purpose at nearby Levi’s Stadium -- the brand-new home of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers, and the site of the Feb. 7 Super Bowl. Incorporating the reclaimed and locally sourced material into the stadium structure earned it the federally recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.



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.



Last Updated: Feb. 6, 2016
Editor: Gary Daines
Nov. 21, 2015

This Week @ NASA, November 20, 2015




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Curiosity heads to active Martian dunes



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.



Orion cone panel welding



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.



Launch approaches for Cygnus




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 …


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Last Updated: Nov. 21, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
Nov. 14, 2015

This Week @ NASA, November 13, 2015




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Carbon and Earth’s future climate



New observations from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission is providing insight into how Earth is responding to rising levels of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, and what this means for our future climate. Earth’s land and ocean currently absorb about half of all carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, but it’s uncertain whether the planet can keep this up in the future. Later this month, a United Nations climate meeting in Paris will focus on setting limits on future levels of human-produced carbon emissions. OCO-2 is NASA’s first satellite dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide.



New Horizons science update



The ongoing “waterfall of data” from the July flyby of Pluto by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has yielded more than 50 discoveries discussed at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland. Among them - 3-D imagery indicating two of Pluto’s most distinctive mountains could be ice volcanoes that may have been active in the recent geological past, the lack of smaller surface craters on Pluto and its large moon Charon could mean objects in the nearby Kuiper Belt are actually “born” larger than previously thought, and interesting details about Pluto’s smaller moons. Hydra -- its most distant moon -- rotates an unprecedented 89 times during one orbit around Pluto.



NASA at Bay Area Science Festival




NASA Associate Administrator for Science, John Grunsfeld was among the agency officials who participated in the recent Bay Area Science Festival in the San Francisco Bay Area. The two-week event featured several NASA displays and activities highlighting the agency’s efforts in science and technology. NASA’s Chief Technologist David Miller was the featured guest of a technology podcast during Nerd Night at Alcatraz. He discussed NASA technologies being developed to help the next generation of explorers make the next giant leap into deep space.



Anniversary: Philae lands on comet



Nov. 12 marked the one-year anniversary of the first successful landing on a comet by a spacecraft. After sailing through space for more than a decade, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft sent its Philae robotic probe to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. NASA has three instruments on the Rosetta spacecraft, which remains in orbit around the comet. Rosetta is expected to swoop down to within four miles of the comet in February. It will be the spacecraft’s closest pass of the comet during its prime mission.



Cygnus being prepared for launch



Processing is underway at Kennedy Space Center of an Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft loaded with cargo and research for delivery to the International Space Station. Launch of the unpiloted Cygnus is targeted for Dec. 3 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. This will be Orbital ATK’s fourth cargo mission to the space station for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.



Girls Rising in Math and Science


Lola The Muppet:
"Tell us about your super powers."

Diana Trujillo, NASA Engineer:
“I don't have super powers, Lola."



Lola The Muppet:
“Of course you do! You know about science and math!”



NASA engineers Diana Trujillo and Sandra Cauffman participated in the Nov. 10 launch of a joint educational initiative between Sesame Workshop and Inter-American Development Bank, called Great Explorers: Girls Rising in Math and Science. The program is designed to improve the educational experiences in math and science for children in Latin America -- with a special focus on empowering girls. NASA encourages programs like this that help young people develop the skills needed for the Journey to Mars.



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.


Last Updated: Nov. 14, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
Nov. 7, 2015

This Week @ NASA, November 6, 2015




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How Mars is losing its atmosphere



New findings by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission indicate that solar wind is currently stripping away the equivalent of about 1/4 pound of gas every second from the Martian atmosphere. MAVEN tracked a series of dramatic solar storms passing through the Martian atmosphere in March and found the loss was accelerated. This could suggest that violent solar activity in the distant past may have played a key role in the transition of the Martian climate from an early, warm and wet environment that might have supported surface life, to the cold, arid planet Mars is today.


15 Years on space station, and counting!



November 2 was the 15th anniversary of the arrival to the International Space Station of Expedition 1 – the first resident crew – and the start of 15 years of continuous human presence aboard the orbiting laboratory. Since opening for business in 2000, the station has enabled NASA and its international partners to advance scientific knowledge, demonstrate new technologies and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth – to benefit our home planet and enable long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space, including the journey to Mars.




Spacewalk for Space Station Maintenance



On Nov. 6, Expedition 45 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren of NASA ventured outside the International Space Station for their second spacewalk in nine days. The pair performed work to restore a segment of the external ammonia cooling system on the orbiting laboratory back to its original configuration. The spacewalk was the second for both crew members and the 190th in support of space station assembly and maintenance.



NASA seeking future astronauts



NASA will soon begin accepting applications for its next class of astronaut candidates. The agency made that announcement on Nov. 4 in preparation for NASA’s journey to Mars and future launches of humans from American soil. Future astronauts will launch on spacecraft currently being developed by two U.S. companies, and on NASA’s Orion deep-space exploration vehicle. The agency will accept applications from Dec. 14 through mid-February and expects to announce the selected candidates in mid-2017. Applications will be accepted at: www.usajobs.gov.




Commercial Crew access tower progress



Construction of the crew access tower that U.S. astronauts will use on future launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida is speedily moving along. It took only 35 days to build the main column of the 200-foot-tall structure. The tower, scheduled for completion in Fall 2016, will eventually be used to launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket.


First SLS flight engine placed for testing



On Nov. 4, engineers at Stennis Space Center helped NASA take another big step on the journey to Mars by placing the first RS-25 flight engine on the A-1 Test Stand, in preparation to certify it for use with the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. These former space shuttle main engines are being upgraded to meet the requirements of the massive SLS. The first RS-25 flight engine is scheduled for testing in the first part of 2016.



And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …


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Last Updated: Nov. 7, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
Oct. 31, 2015

This Week @ NASA, October 30, 2015




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Advancing the Journey to Mars

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“I want to talk with you, just a little bit today, about where I believe we can be headed as a country when it comes to space exploration and to Earthly benefits that come from it”





During an Oct. 28 keynote speech at the Center for American Progress, in Washington, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden spoke about the advancement made on the journey to Mars and what lies ahead for future administrations and policy makers.


Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“The astronaut who will take the first human steps on Mars and the scientists who will discover the next great breakthrough that makes that step possible might very well be sitting in a classroom right here in Washington, DC”



NASA’s recently released report “Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration,” outlines its plan to reach Mars in phases – with technology demonstrations and research aboard the International Space Station, followed by hardware and procedure development in the proving ground around the moon, before sending humans to the Red Planet.



Space station spacewalk



The Oct. 28 spacewalk outside the International Space Station by Expedition 45 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren, was the first spacewalk for both astronauts. During the X-hour XX-minute outing, they installed a thermal cover over the station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, routed cables for the future arrival of an International Docking Adapter for commercial crew spacecraft and lubricated components on the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The two go back out for a another spacewalk on Nov. 6 to reconfigure coolant lines on the station’s structure.


Another record in space for Kelly



A day after the spacewalk, Kelly completed his 216th consecutive day in space – a new record for an American astronaut – and his second record in two weeks. Oct. 16 was Kelly’s U.S. record 383rd cumulative day in space. He and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko’s year-long mission aboard the station is providing data on the physical and mental effects of long duration spaceflight, as part of NASA’s journey to Mars.



Mars Landing Sites / Exploration Zone Workshop  




NASA’s Landing Sites/Exploration Zones Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars took place Oct. 27-30 at Houston’s Lunar and Planetary Institute. It was the agency’s first workshop to collect ideas about locations on Mars that could potentially provide high scientific research value and natural resources for humans to land, live and explore on the Red Planet. NASA plans to use existing assets at Mars, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the Odyssey spacecraft, to support the selection process of potential landing sites and exploration zones.



Cassini’s “deep dive” flyby



The Oct. 28 flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, took it a mere 30 miles above the moon’s South Polar Region – directly through the plume of icy spray that comes from the global ocean beneath the moon’s frozen surface. This deepest-ever dive through the plume by Cassini is expected to provide valuable scientific data about the subsurface ocean. 


von Braun symposium



NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center held the 8th Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium Oct. 28-29 at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The event featured remarks by NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot; Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier; Associate Administrator for Space Technology Steve Jurczyk; and other agency leaders. This year’s symposium focused on benefits, challenges and opportunities in advancing space activities, and recent progress in science, engineering and technology. 



And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …


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Last Updated: Oct. 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
Oct. 23, 2015

This Week @ NASA, October 23, 2015






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Astronomy Night at the White House



The stars were out for the second-ever White House Astronomy Night on Oct. 19. Attendees included NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, Deputy Administrator Dava Newman and Associate Administrator for Science, John Grunsfeld. President Obama hosted the event to give students an opportunity to stargaze and to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or (STEM) education. NASA’s commercial crew astronauts, who are training for future spaceflights from American soil on commercial spacecraft, also participated in the event.


POTUS call to ISS:
“Congratulations to you and to Kjell and everybody at NASA. I hope more young people get to see some of the incredible things that you’re doing.” 



Several hours before Astronomy Night, the President talked with NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren aboard the International Space Station about Kelly’s one-year mission and the upcoming anniversary of 15 years of continuous human presence aboard the station.

Scott Kelly, International Space Station Commander:
“We’re doing a lot of great science up here … a lot of those are to getting us on this journey to Mars.” 


Social chat with Commercial Crew astronauts



Earlier that same day at NASA headquarters, Suni Williams and Bob Behnken, two of the four NASA commercial crew astronauts, fielded questions during a social media chat about their training, the importance of the Commercial Crew Program and the work NASA is doing to advance efforts to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.


Space station spacewalks previewed



An Oct. 22 news briefing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston previewed two upcoming spacewalks aboard the space station. on Oct. 28 and Nov. 6, NASA’s Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren will perform a variety of upgrades and maintenance work on hardware outside the station. The spacewalks – the first ever for both astronauts – will “bookend” the station’s 15th anniversary of continuous human presence, which is Nov. 2.



SLS Critical Design Review completed



NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket has completed all steps needed to clear a critical design review (CDR). SLS is the first vehicle designed to meet the challenges of the journey to Mars and the first exploration class rocket since the Saturn V. SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built and, with the agency’s Orion spacecraft, will launch America into a new era of human space exploration to destinations beyond Earth’s orbit,  including an asteroid and Mars


Heat shield testing completed



Engineers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California successfully tested a heat shield in heating conditions that simulate a landing on Mars. The flexible Adaptive Deployable Entry and Placement Technology (ADEPT) opens like an umbrella and could help engineers provide the larger heat shields needed to protect spacecraft from the extreme heat experienced during landings on Mars.



Exoplanet Week



Oct. 18-24 was Exoplanet Week for NASA -- marking the 20th anniversary of the discovery of 51 Pegasi b -- the first planet spotted outside our solar system orbiting a Sun-like star. Since that discovery in 1995, we’ve found thousands of confirmed planets and planet candidates beyond our solar system, including the discovery earlier this year by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft of a bigger, older cousin of Earth.


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.


Last Updated: Oct. 24, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
Aug. 1, 2015

This Week @ NASA, July 31, 2015



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Closest rocky exoplanet confirmed



NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has helped astronomers confirm the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system. The planet, called HD 219134b, is a bit larger than Earth and located a mere 21 light-years away in the Cassiopeia constellation, near the North Star. While HD 219134b orbits too close to its star to sustain life, it is the closest exoplanet to Earth to be detected transiting, or crossing in front of, its star – which makes it perfect for extensive scientific research. The results of this discovery are the subject of a study accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.


Exoplanet found far from its central star



NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii have made independent confirmations of an exoplanet orbiting far from its central star. The finding, made through a technique called gravitational microlensing, opens a new piece of discovery space in the hunt for extrasolar planets: to uncover planets as far from their central stars as Jupiter and Saturn are from our sun. The Hubble and Keck Observatory results will appear in the July 30 edition of The Astrophysical Journal.



Orion fairing separation tests



NASA’s prime contractor for the Orion spacecraft – Lockheed Martin – conducted its second successful ground-based test recently, to evaluate how the fairing panels on Orion will separate on its way to space. The massive panels help the spacecraft endure the aerodynamic forces encountered during launch – then are jettisoned several minutes into flight. The testing incorporated several design changes to reduce spacecraft mass and better prepare Orion for its first test mission on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to a distant lunar orbit.



NEEMO 20 mission



The 20th NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations or NEEMO mission got underway July 20 in the Florida Keys – about 60 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. NASA astronaut Serena Aunon and ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano are among the NEEMO crew of the Aquarius habitat, the world's only undersea science station. The 14-day mission is designed to test tools and techniques for use during possible future spacewalks on asteroids and the surfaces of Mars and its moons.



California’s “rain debt”




According to a NASA study published in the July 30 Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, California accumulated a “rainfall debt” of about 20 inches between 2012 and 2015 – that’s equivalent to the state’s average amount of rainfall in a year. The majority of the precipitation loss is the result of a high-pressure system in the eastern Pacific Ocean that has hindered water vapor-rich air currents, called atmospheric rivers, from reaching the California coast since 2011.



Unmanned Air Traffic Management



The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management Convention kicked off July 28 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, California. The three-day event featured a keynote speech from Jaiwon Shin, the agency’s associate administrator for aeronautics. It also included demonstrations of the latest developments in unmanned aircraft systems technology, safety and security; solutions for privacy concerns and issues; and discussion about the future impact of low-altitude flight on the emerging business sector.




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.

Last Updated: Aug. 1, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
July 24, 2015

This Week @ NASA, July 24, 2015



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---------------



New Horizons science update



A July 24 update at NASA headquarters, featured new surprising imagery and science results from the recent flyby of Pluto, by the New Horizons spacecraft. This image, from the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager or (LORRI) – looking back at Pluto – hours after the historic flyby revealed a haze in the planet’s sunlit atmosphere that extends as high as 80 miles above Pluto’s surface – much higher than expected. Models suggest that the hazes form when ultraviolet sunlight breaks apart methane gas.


LORRI images also show evidence that exotic ices have flowed – and may still be flowing across Pluto’s surface, similar to glacial movement on Earth. This unpredicted sign of present-day geologic activity was detected in Sputnik Planum – an area in the western part of Pluto’s heart-shaped Tombaugh Regio.


Additionally, new compositional data from New Horizons’ Ralph instrument indicate that the center of Sputnik Planum is rich in nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane ices.


Kepler discovers Earth’s “big brother”




NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet orbiting a sun-like star’s "habitable zone" -- the range of distances from a star where liquid water might pool on a planet’s surface. While smaller planets have previously been found in the rare habitable zone, the newly discovered Kepler-452b is the first orbiting around a star like our own sun.



New crew launches to space station



NASA’s Kjell Lindgren and Expedition 44 crewmates Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Kimiya Yui launched from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz spacecraft July 22 to begin a five-month mission on the International Space Station. When they reached the station six-hours later, they were greeted by station commander Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos, NASA Flight Engineer Scott Kelly and Russian Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko.





EPIC view of Earth



A NASA camera on the (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away. The Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera or (EPIC) takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband from ultraviolet to near infrared filters to produce a variety of science products. The bluish tint of the initial images is a characteristic effect of sunlight scattered by air molecules. The EPIC team expects to have daily images posted to a dedicated web page by September. DSCOVR is a partnership between NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force to maintain real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities.


Newman continues NASA center visits



NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman continues to visit NASA Centers to meet the NASA family and see the work being done around the country, on behalf of the agency. During a recent trip to Ames Research Center in Northern California, Newman signed an agreement with U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden to increase collaboration in Earth Science research, agriculture management and to inspire youth to pursue STEM careers. The visit also included a demonstration highlighting NASA and USDA research data, and a town hall meeting with new center director Eugene Tu, employees and students.



Small Class Vehicle launch pad complete



NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step in its transformation to a 21st Century multi-user spaceport with the recent completion of a new Small Class Vehicle Launch Pad. The new launch pad, designated 39C, is designed for smaller aerospace companies and will enable them to develop and launch their vehicles from Kennedy. 


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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
July 18, 2015

This Week @ NASA, July 17, 2015




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New Horizons arrives at Pluto

“3-2-1 … applause.”



After a nearly decade-long journey, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft arrived at Pluto on July 14 – passing by at a mere 7,750 miles above the surface … resulting in this absolutely breathtaking image – the closest ever of Pluto. Initial congratulations included a Twitter post from the White House … and from iconic figures in the scientific community.


Stephen Hawking, Theoretical Physicist:
“Now the solar system will be further opened up to us, revealing the secrets of distant Pluto.”



But before that could happen, the New Horizons team knew they still needed to hear from the spacecraft with one last critical piece of data …


Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator:
“Whether it survived the passage through the Pluto system. Hopefully it did.” 


That wait ended when New Horizons phoned home, just before 9 p.m. EDT …

Alice Bowman, New Horizons Mission Operations Manager:
“We have a healthy spacecraft. We’ve recorded data from the Pluto system and we’re outbound from Pluto … [applause]” 


Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“Today’s mission was just one more step on the journey of getting humans to Mars, because it gives us one more piece of the puzzle about our solar system.” 


John Grunsfeld, NASA Associate Administrator for Science:
“As a team, we all have made history. This will never be repeated. This is in the history books!”


Alice Bowman, New Horizons Mission Operations Manager: 
“I have to pinch myself, look what we accomplished! It’s truly amazing.” 



The so-called “data waterfall” released by New Horizons contains so many astounding images and detailed information about Pluto that investigators anticipate it will take about 16 months to send it all back to Earth.



Mariner 4 Mars flyby anniversary



New Horizons historic flyby happened 50 years to the day after NASA’s Mariner 4 became the first spacecraft to successfully fly by Mars. Mariner 4’s photos of Mars, the first ever captured of another planet from space, provided a better understanding of the Martian atmosphere – which helped plan landings for future missions to Mars.



Newman sworn-in



Also on July 14, NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman was ceremonially sworn in to her job by Administrator Bolden at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Montana Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines hosted the event for Newman, who is a Montana native. The Deputy Administrator officially began her duties with the agency on May 18.


New wildfire detection tool




Data from the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite is helping the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service detect smaller wildfires in more detail than previous space-based products. The high-resolution data have been used with a cutting-edge computer model to predict how a fire will change direction based on weather and land conditions.




Expedition 44/45 prepares for launch



At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Expedition 44/45 crew, including NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, continues preparations for its upcoming trip to the International Space Station. Lindgren, Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Japan’s Kimiya Yui are scheduled for launch on July 22.



40th anniversary of Apollo-Soyuz



July 15 marked the 40-year anniversary of the start of the Apollo-Soyuz mission. The landmark mission saw a Soyuz spacecraft launched from Russia and an Apollo spacecraft launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida complete the first ever international docking between two space vehicles. Apollo-Soyuz was an important precursor to cooperation between the two countries and construction of the International Space Station.


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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
July 11, 2015

This Week @ NASA, July 10, 2015



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Commercial crew astronauts


NASA has selected four astronauts to work closely with two U.S. commercial companies that will return human spaceflight launches to Florida’s Space Coast. NASA named veteran astronauts and experienced test pilots Robert Behnken, Eric Boe, Douglas Hurley and Sunita Williams to work closely with Boeing and SpaceX.


NASA contracted with Boeing and SpaceX to develop crew transportation systems and provide crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station.


The agency will select the commercial crew astronauts from this group of four for the first test, which is scheduled for 2017.


NASA’s newest astronauts


After two years of intensive training, NASA has eight new astronauts who will help advance scientific knowledge on the space station and help pave the way for America’s new space launch capabilities and journey to Mars.

The new astronauts, which were announced in June 2013, were selected from more than 6,300 applicants - the second largest number NASA has ever received. The group reported to Johnson Space Center in August of that year to begin technical space system training, robotics instruction and specialized hardware and science training around the globe. As of July 7, they had successfully completed their training and will now support mission operations and technical duties while awaiting spaceflight assignments.


New Horizons still on track



After a July 4 anomaly caused NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to go into “safe mode,” the mission is back to normal operations and is on track for its July 14 flyby of Pluto. Investigators concluded the underlying cause of the incident was a hard-to-detect timing flaw in the spacecraft command sequence, and that no hardware or software fault resulted from the anomaly. Before that incident, New Horizons transmitted more high-resolution views of Pluto, including a color image showing the four mysterious dark spots on Pluto that have captured the imagination of the world.



Benefits for Humanity



NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini and SpaceX President Elon Musk were among those in attendance at the fourth annual ISS R&D Conference, July 7-9 in Boston. The event brought together leading minds in scientific research from the commercial and academic communities. NASA also released the print version of a new NASA book at the conference titled, “Benefits for Humanity.” The publication, which also is available online, highlights research aboard the space station and how it helps improve lives on Earth, while advancing NASA's ambitious human exploration goals.


Cargo ship arrives at space station



The space station’s Expedition 44 crew received a delivery of more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies from an unpiloted Russian Progress cargo ship that successfully docked to the outpost on July 5. The Progress, which had launched from Kazakhstan two days earlier, is scheduled to remain at the station for the next four months.

Training continues for next ISS crew




Meanwhile, NASA’s Kjell Lindgren and the remaining members of the Expedition 44/45 crew continue with pre-flight training activities in Russia, ahead of their upcoming trip to the ISS. The launch to the station of Lindgren, Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is targeted for July 22.


Cessna drop test



Technicians at NASA's Langley Research Center conducted a crash test with a single engine Cessna 172 airplane to test four emergency locator transmitters, or ELTs, installed on board. The research, funded by the NASA Search and Rescue Mission Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, is designed to improve the emergency transmitters' performance. ELTs are supposed to transmit a distress signal within 50 seconds of an airplane crash. The signal can be picked up by passing aircraft, nearby ground stations or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite.


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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
July 3, 2015

This Week @ NASA, July 3, 2015

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

SpaceX leading investigation of mishap

SpaceX, with Federal Aviation Administration oversight, is leading the investigation of what caused the June 28 mishap shortly after the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The flight was SpaceX’s seventh contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station. Although important supplies and cargo were lost aboard the Dragon, the station crew has sufficient supplies into the Fall.

Progress on crew access tower at Cape

Work is progressing on a new crew access tower at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41 – with the metal segments that will make up the 200-foot-tall structure taking shape nearby. The access tower will be used by astronauts to board Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft. The work by Boeing and United Launch Alliance is critical to preparing the launch site for a flight test to certify systems for operational missions to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

New Horizons’ final flight path

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has received a final “all clear,” as it speeds ever closer to Pluto for a historic July 14 flyby of Pluto and its moons. After seven weeks of detailed searches for dust clouds, rings, and other potential hazards, NASA's New Horizons team has decided to remain on its original path through the Pluto system. This avoids the need for a late course correction to detour around any orbiting debris that could threaten the spacecraft. Because New Horizons is traveling at such a high rate of speed – 30,800 miles per hour - a particle as small as a grain of rice could be lethal.

Forever Remembered exhibit

Astronaut artifacts line the walls of a new, permanent memorial called "Forever Remembered," at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. NASA and astronaut families collaborated on the memorial designed to honor the crews lost on missions STS-51L and STS-107, pay tribute to space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, and emphasize the importance of learning from the past. The memorial contains the largest collection of personal items of both flight crews and includes recovered hardware from both shuttles, never before displayed for the public.

Health and Safety Fair

During the 2015 NASA headquarters health and safety fair on June 30, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden presented trophies to winners of the agency’s internal NASA MOVES fitness challenge. The fair also featured a range of health, safety, fitness and wellness activities and demonstrations.

NASA Week and the Essence Festival

In conjuction with the annual Essence Festival in New Orleans, Stennis Space Center kicked off NASA week on June 30 -- with activities to help celebrate space exploration. NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson was on hand to meet and talk with attendees, who also learned about NASA’s Journey to Mars, work being done for the Earth, off the Earth aboard the International Space Station and more.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Sarah Loff
April 3, 2015

This Week @ NASA, April 3, 2015



“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

One-year mission underway

A few days after his one-year mission to study the effects of long duration spaceflight on the human body began aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 43 Flight Engineer Scott Kelly was congratulated by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden from Washington DC.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“This is a really important step on our road to Mars so we’re excited about having you and Mikhail there as partners and excited about seeing all of the… going to do.”

Also on the call – Kelly’s twin brother and former astronaut Mark. The pair will be studied during the mission as part of a science investigation … and White House science advisor John Holdren, who echoed the importance of the mission.

John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy:
“We’re watching you with enormous interest because this mission is bringing the scientific information that only a prolonged stay on the International Space Station can provide.”

Mark Kelly, Expedition 43 Flight Engineer:
“We appreciate your support towards those ends and I also really appreciate the First Lady and the President’s attention to NASA and the space program.”

Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will conduct the one-year research mission through March 2016.

Super typhoon seen from space

Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts of NASA and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti captured stunning images of Super Typhoon Maysak as the massive storm swirled in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean during the first week of April. Microwave imagery from the joint NASA/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Global Precipitation Measurement core observatory revealed that storm was dropping rain at a rate of over 2.8 inches per hour at one point.

Asteroid mission milestone

NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission has passed its Key Decision Point-D, a critical developmental milestone signaling the completion of a series of independent reviews covering the technical health, schedule and cost of the project. It also clears the mission to transition from the development stage to delivery of systems, testing and integration leading to a launch in late 2016. The groundbreaking science mission will travel to a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

LDSD spin test

A March 31 spin test of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project ‘s test vehicle at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, was one of the last activities before it heads to Hawaii for the program’s second experimental flight test in June. The 15-foot-wide, 7,000-pound test vehicle was spun up to about 30 rpm to check its balance. The near-space flight test in June is part of a cross-cutting demonstration mission testing breakthrough technologies to enable large payloads to be safely landed on the surface of Mars, or other planetary bodies with atmospheres, including Earth.

Sniffing the history of the Martian atmosphere

NASA's Curiosity rover is using a new experiment to better understand the history of the Martian atmosphere. By analyzing xenon, a heavy noble gas, Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, is providing clues that may help researchers characterize when and how much the atmosphere of Mars dissipated.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
March 27, 2015

This Week @ NASA, March 27, 2015


 

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

One-year crew launches to ISS

The much-anticipated March 27 launch to the International Space Station of NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Expedition 43 crewmates Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency, began a one-year odyssey that plays a key role in NASA’s journey to Mars. Kelly and Kornienko will spend a year on the orbital laboratory conducting extensive research on the human body to provide valuable data on the physical and mental challenges astronauts may face on future longer-duration missions.

Asteroid Redirect Mission concept

NASA announced on March 25 more details about the Asteroid Redirect Mission, or ARM, which in the mid-2020s will test a number of new capabilities needed for future human expeditions to deep space, including to Mars. NASA also announced it has increased the detection of near-Earth Asteroids by 65 percent since launching its asteroid initiative three years ago. For ARM, a robotic spacecraft will capture a boulder from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid and move it into a stable orbit around the moon for exploration by astronauts, all in support of advancing the nation’s journey to Mars.

Curiosity detects nitrogen on Mars

NASA's Curiosity rover has made the first detection of nitrogen on the surface of Mars from release during heating of Martian sediments. The nitrogen detected – a form of nitric oxide – could be released from the breakdown of nitrates during heating. Nitrates are a class of molecules that contain nitrogen in a form that can be used by living organisms. The discovery adds to the evidence that ancient Mars was habitable for life.

White House Science Fair

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden attended the March 23 White House Science Fair, where approximately 35 student teams showcased projects ranging from breakthrough basic research to new inventions. The annual event, a key part of President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign, is designed to inspire more students to excel in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM subjects According to the White House, the most ever female science students – over 100 from more than 30 states, were expected to participate in this year’s fair.

Orion EFT-1 “thank you” event

An Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 recognition event was held March 25 at NASA headquarters to thank employees for helping with the success of Orion’s flight test last December. Similar events are being held at other NASA facilities around the country by the Orion, Space Launch System (SLS) and Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) programs to show gratitude and highlight the progress being made to develop the systems and capabilities needed for future deep space travel.

Kepler team receives award

Also on March 25, the team in charge of NASA's Kepler mission was awarded the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s 2015 Trophy for Current Achievement -- that institution’s highest group award. The trophy honors outstanding endeavors in the fields of aerospace science and technology. Kepler is responsible for history's first detection of Earth-sized planets orbiting other suns in their “habitable zone", and has unveiled a whole new side of our Milky Way galaxy -- one that is teeming with planets.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
March 21, 2015

This Week @ NASA, March 20, 2015



“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

One-year ISS crew at launch site

Expedition 43, the next crew headed to the International Space Station is conducting final training at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA’s Scott Kelly and Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are scheduled for launch aboard a Soyuz spacecraft on March 27 at 3:42 p.m. Eastern. Kelly and Kornienko will become the first crew to conduct a one-year research mission aboard the orbital laboratory.

Expedition 44/45 news conference

A March 18 news conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston featured NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren and his Expedition 44/45 crewmates – discussing their upcoming mission to the ISS. Lindgren, Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will launch to the space station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft May 26 from Kazakhstan.

Orion heat shield testing

The heat shield for NASA’s Orion spacecraft is at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama for 2-3 months of testing following Orion’s successful flight test in December. Samples of the heat shield’s ablative material will be studied and analyzed to better understand its performance during Orion’s high-velocity return to Earth on the flight. After the tests, technicians will mill off the ablative coating before transferring the heat shield to NASA’s Langley Research Center, in Virginia, for water impact testing. 

Spacewalk training under water

Training for spacewalks underwater in gigantic pools like NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Lab or NBL, in Houston, was the focus of a March 19 What's New in Aerospace? presentation at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. Water is uniquely suited for spacewalk training because it provides extended periods of simulated microgravity. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first two spacewalks in history – March 18, 1965 by Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov, followed by U.S. astronaut Edward White a few months later on June 3, during the Gemini IV mission.

Gemini 3 50th anniversary

On March 23, fifty years ago, astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom and John Young flew on Gemini 3. The 3-orbit, nearly 5-hour flight in the “Molly Brown” spacecraft was the first human mission in NASA's Gemini program. The mission also saw the first orbital maneuver by any human-piloted spacecraft when a short burn of the orbit attitude and maneuvering system (OAMS) was completed near the end of the first orbit.

SXSW Interactive

The South by Southwest festival, March 13-18 in Austin, Texas, featured NASA exhibits, panel discussions and presentations that highlighted how technology drives exploration of the skies and space; how NASA is exploring Earth, the solar system and beyond; provided updates on our journey to Mars; and outlined how festival attendees can collaborate with NASA on citizen science projects and submit new ideas for NASA challenges.

Total solar eclipse

The only total solar eclipse of 2015 took place March 20 and was only visible in parts of Iceland, Europe, Northern Africa and Northern Asia – with the totality of the eclipse only visible for its entire 2-minutes 47-seconds from a pair of small island groups in that region. The next total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. will be on August 21, 2017.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Sarah Loff
March 13, 2015

This Week @ NASA, March 13, 2015



"Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

ISS crew returns home safely

On March 10, Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore of NASA handed over command of the International Space Station to NASA astronaut and Expedition 43 commander Terry Virts. The next day, Wilmore and Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of the Russian Federal Space Agency undocked from the station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. Several hours later the trio landed safely in Kazakhstan – completing 167 days in space since launching in September 2014.

One-year ISS crew trains

The one-year crew, which includes NASA’s Scott Kelly, continues pre-flight preparations in Russia for its launch to the station later this month. Kelly and Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency are set to launch March 27 Eastern time to the station. Kelly and Kornienko will spend a year aboard the orbiting laboratory – conducting research on the effects of long duration space travel on the human body.

Bolden testifies on budget

A March 12 hearing convened by the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness provided another opportunity for NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden to testify about what the agency can accomplish with the $18.5 billion dollars proposed under President Obama’s FY 2016 budget. The funding will support further work on human missions to an asteroid and to Mars, round-trips to the International Space Station for American astronauts on commercial vehicles launched from Florida, improvements on Earth to aviation and climate and more.

SLS booster firing test

The largest, most powerful booster ever built that will help NASA's new Space Launch System rocket launch was successfully fired up for a major ground test on March 11 at Orbital ATK's test facilities in Promontory, Utah. During the two-minute test, the booster was heated to verify how it performs in high temperature conditions. This significant milestone for the SLS program and NASA’s journey to Mars is the first of two ground tests to qualify the booster for flight. The next test is planned for early next year.

Magnetospheric Multiscale mission underway

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission launched March 12 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission’s four identical observatories will orbit earth -- providing the first-ever three-dimensional view of magnetic reconnection – a fundamental process that occurs throughout the universe during which interaction between magnetic fields results in explosive energy that can accelerate particles to nearly the speed of light.

Space habitat technology

NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier attended a March 12 media event at Bigelow Aerospace in Las Vegas to showcase the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module or BEAM. The expandable test space habitat is scheduled for launch later this year to the International Space Station on the eighth SpaceX resupply mission. The BEAM will be attached to the station’s Tranquility node for a two-year technology demonstration.

Ocean on Jovian moon?

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the best evidence yet there’s an underground saltwater ocean on Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede – an ocean that’s believed to hold more water than all the water on Earth's surface. By observing aurorae at the moon’s polar regions, scientists concluded a large amount of saltwater exists beneath Ganymede’s crust. Identifying liquid water is crucial in the search for habitable worlds beyond Earth and for the search of life as we know it.

NASA Industry Forum

The Office of Small Business Programs hosted the NASA Industry Forum Spring 2015 meeting March 10 and 11 at NASA headquarters. The forum helps the Office of Small Business Programs directly hear areas of concern for NASA centers and contractors, and discuss possible solutions and improvements. Administrator Bolden and Office of Small Business Programs Associate Administrator Glenn Delgado also presented the 2014 Fiscal Year Agency-Level NASA Small Business Industry Awards at the forum.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
March 6, 2015

This Week @ NASA, March 6, 2015


 

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

Bolden testifies about NASA budget

In his testimony before Congress during the first week of March, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden outlined the return on investment legislators can expect from the $18.5 billion dollars proposed for the agency under President Obama’s FY 2016 budget. The funding allows NASA to continue on the Journey to Mars – with development of vehicles and technologies needed for unprecedented human missions, first to an asteroid and then on to the Red Planet. The budget request and current contract schedules support certification, by the end of 2017, of commercial vehicles being developed to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil on round-trip missions to the International Space Station. It also further enables the agency’s quest to improve life on Earth – with technologies for greener, quieter aviation and investigations to enhance the health of our planet’s climate.

NASA spacecraft scheduled to arrive at dwarf planet

The mission timeline for NASA's Dawn spacecraft has it becoming the first in history to reach a dwarf planet by entering into orbit around Ceres on March 6. Located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is the largest unexplored world of the inner solar system

Space station ready for new docking ports

The March 1 spacewalk outside the International Space Station was the last in a series of three to prepare for the installation of new docking ports for future use by U.S. spacecraft carrying crews launched from Florida. During the spacewalk, NASA astronauts Terry Virts and Barry Wilmore completed the installation of 400 feet of cable and several antennas associated with the Common Communications for Visiting Vehicles system known as C2V2. .

One-year crew in pre-flight training

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Expedition 43 crewmates Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency are in Star City, Russia for training and other activities prior to their launch to the ISS later this month. The trio is scheduled to launch on March 27 Eastern time aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the station, where Kelly and Kornienko will become the first crew to spend a year aboard the ISS – conducting research on the effects of long duration space travel on the human body.

Steve Swanson visit

During one of several post-flight appearances in the Washington, DC area, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, who served aboard the space station as a Flight Engineer for Expedition 39 and Commander during Expedition 40 in 2014, accompanied U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden on a visit to Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, Maryland. They spoke to students about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and the connection with the future of agriculture, including Swanson’s research in vegetable plant growth aboard the ISS.

100th birthday of NACA

The symposium featured words from NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, a panel discussion moderated by the agency’s Chief Historian, Bill Barry and more. Congress established the N-A-C-A to pursue excellence in aeronautics. NACA staff, research facilities and operations formed the core of NASA when it came into existence on Oct. 1, 1958.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
Feb. 6, 2015

This Week @ NASA, February 6, 2015

 

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

The State of NASA

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“I can unequivocally say that the State of NASA is strong.”

That assertion by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden came during his Feb. 2 “State of NASA” address at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, following the release of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 $18.5 billion budget proposal for NASA earlier the same day.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“That’s a half billion-dollar increase over last year’s enacted budget, and it is a clear vote of confidence to you – the employees of NASA and the ambitious exploration program you are executing.”

And, a vote of confidence for NASA’s plan moving forward, which includes development of new vehicles and technologies needed for unprecedented human missions to an asteroid and to Mars, commercial partnerships to provide transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States and research on the station for the benefit of future deep space travelers and people living on our home planet.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“As we advance our journey to Mars, we’re also focusing here on Earth on making aviation greener, quieter and more efficient.”

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“NASA is a leader in Earth and climate science and our constantly expanding view of our planet from space is helping us understand Earth and its changes.”

And as the Administrator noted, although Mars is a key destination, it’s only one point on NASA’s journey of discovery throughout our solar system and beyond – across the farthest reaches of the universe.

Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“I couldn’t be more excited about our future! We’re making steady progress and continuing to reach for new heights.”

New views of Pluto

New views of Pluto and its largest moon Charon, captured by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft were released on Feb. 4, the 109th birthday of late astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who first spotted the small planet in 1930. New Horizons’ telescopic Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) took the pictures on Jan. 25 and Jan. 27 from more than 126 million miles away. New Horizons will make a close flyby of Pluto and its moons on July 14.

Soil moisture mission underway

On Jan. 31, NASA successfully launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. SMAP, the first Earth satellite designed to collect global observations of the vital soil moisture hidden just beneath our feet, is the agency’s fifth Earth Science mission to be launched in the last 11 months.

Virginia Aerospace Day

Representatives from NASA, industry and academia participated in the annual Virginia Aerospace Day in and around the Virginia General Assembly building in Richmond, recently. It was an opportunity to showcase for elected officials the significant economic and technological impact that Langley Research Center and Wallops Flight Facility have on the Commonwealth and to promote science, technology, engineering and math-related education.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
Jan. 29, 2015

This Week @ NASA, January 30, 2015

 

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

The plan to Launch America

During a Jan. 26 media briefing at the Johnson Space Center, Administrator Charlie Bolden, other NASA officials and representatives from Boeing and SpaceX discussed key development activities, test plans and objectives for developing safe, reliable and cost-effective spacecraft and systems that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station from the United States. Under Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts for NASA’s Launch America initiative, the companies will conduct spacecraft systems testing followed by increasingly complex flight tests – before ultimately flying astronauts on orbital flights and eventually on operational missions to the station in the next few years.

Soil moisture mission

NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft is the first U.S. Earth-observing satellite designed to collect global observations of surface soil moisture. Its high resolution space-based measurements will give scientists a new capability to better predict natural hazards of extreme weather, climate change, floods and droughts and improve our understanding of Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles. Launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base is no earlier than Jan. 31.

ISAAC robot unveiled

NASA’s new seven-ton, two-story tall composite materials robot, named ISAAC, was unveiled Jan. 26 during a ceremony at Langley Research Center. ISAAC, which stands for Integrated Structural Assembly of Advanced Composites uses epoxy and carbon fibers to transform 3-D computer drawings into strong, but lighter weight parts for aircraft and spacecraft – which will allow planes, rockets and other vehicles to use less fuel and carry more weight.

Close asteroid flyby

These animated radar images captured with NASA's Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, show asteroid 2004 BL86 during its close flyby of Earth on Jan. 26. The images also show the asteroid, which is about 1,100 feet across, has a small moon that is about 230 feet across. The flyby – about 745,000 miles from us, is the closest a known asteroid this size will come to Earth until 2027.

Best images yet of Ceres

The images captured of Ceres by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft get better and better as the probe continues to close in on the dwarf planet. This animation, made with images taken on Jan. 25, represents the highest-resolution views to date of Ceres. The images were taken at a distance of about 147,000 miles. Dawn is scheduled to become the first probe to visit a dwarf planet when it enters into orbit around Ceres on March 6.

Day of Remembrance

Administrator Bolden and other senior NASA officials held a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Jan. 28 – to mark NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance. This was one of several such observances around the agency to honor the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, as well as other members of the NASA family who lost their lives supporting NASA’s mission of exploration and discovery.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines
Jan. 23, 2015

This Week @ NASA, January 23, 2015

 

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

State of STEM

During his State of the Union address Jan. 20, President Obama emphasized the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM, to maintaining a strong and competitive American economy.

“I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay.”

On hand as an invited guest, was NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

“In two months, to prepare us for those missions, Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stay in space.  Good luck, Captain – and make sure to Instagram it.”

The President acknowledged how this and other NASA research and technology efforts are preparing the United States for deep space travel and returning benefits to humanity.

The next day, NASA helped highlight and expand on the STEM messages from the President’s address during the White House’s third annual State of STEM event. During the event, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, White House officials, and middle and high school students discussed research happening on the space station as part of an in-flight event with NASA astronauts. NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan also participated in a panel discussion of women and girls in STEM fields.

2015 Spinoff publication

Also on Jan. 21, NASA’s Technology Transfer program released the 2015 edition of its annual Spinoff publication. Published every year since 1976, Spinoff highlights NASA initiatives that have resulted in technologies with commercial and societal benefits across the economy. To request free print copies or download digital versions, go to spinoff.nasa.gov.

Virtual walk on Mars

New software by NASA and Microsoft announced on Jan. 21, called onSight, will use the company’s HoloLens device to allow scientists to see objects on Mars in 3-D and perform virtual work on the Martian surface. Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), onSight, which uses real data from the Mars Curiosity rover, will let researchers examine the rover’s worksite almost as if they were standing on the Red Planet, right beside it. Investigators around the world will be able to meet in a 3-D simulation of the Martian environment and preview the results of their work firsthand.

Dawn images of Ceres

New images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft as it closes in on the dwarf planet Ceres are almost three times more detailed than calibration images taken in early December. Over the next several weeks, Dawn will deliver increasingly better images, leading up to the spacecraft's capture into orbit around Ceres on March 6. Dawn's arrival at Ceres for a 16-month study will mark the first time a spacecraft has ever visited a dwarf planet.

SCaN workshop

NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation, or SCaN program hosted a workshop recently at NASA headquarters to review and assess emerging space navigation and communications technologies for possible use on future missions, and identify any potential knowledge and/or capability gaps that exist. The SCaN program is part of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Zero Robotics on ISS

The 2014 Zero Robotics Championship recently took place aboard the International Space Station. The competition allows students to program robots aboard the ISS known as SPHERES to solve a challenge in microgravity – with station astronauts helping to conduct the championship. It’s also a unique and valuable opportunity to promote student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Sarah Loff
Jan. 16, 2015

This Week @ NASA, January 16, 2015

 

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

Dragon arrives at ISS

The SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station on Jan. 12, two days after its launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. SpaceX’s fifth contracted resupply mission to the ISS includes delivery of more than two tons of supplies and experiments for the station’s crew. For an overview of the newly delivered experiments – including the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, or CATS, visit: www.nasa.gov/spacex.

One-year ISS mission previewed

A pair of briefings Jan. 15 at Johnson Space Center previewed the first yearlong mission to the ISS. on March 27, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency will launch to the station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. Padalka will return to Earth in September, but Kelly and Kornienko will stay until March 2016 to investigate how the human body responds to longer durations in space – in support of the next generation of space exploration.

2014: Warmest year in modern record

2014 was Earth’s warmest year since 1880, according to an analysis of new surface temperature data by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York. The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the sole exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000, cementing a continued long-term warming of the planet – with an average rise in surface temperature of about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880. In an independent analysis of the raw data, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also found 2014 the warmest on record.

Successful RS-25 engine test

An RS-25 engine, which will be used to boost NASA’s Space Launch System rocket to deep space, recently completed its first successful test at the Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The 500-second hot fire test was the first for the former space shuttle main engine, since the end of shuttle engine testing in 2009. Four RS-25 engines will power SLS on future missions, including to an asteroid and Mars.

Cube Quest Challenge summit

A recent summit at Ames Research Center provided details for those interested in participating in NASA’s Cube Quest Challenge, which offers a total of $5 million for teams that design, build and deliver flight-qualified, small satellites capable of advanced operations near and beyond the moon. Winning designs could also fly on Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

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.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Sarah Loff
Dec. 19, 2014

This Year @ NASA, 2014

 

Here’s a look at some of the top NASA stories of 2014

Neil Armstrong-Apollo 11:
“That’s one small step for [a] man; one giant leap for mankind.”

With 2014 marking the 45th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic first step on the moon, NASA outlined plans for America's next giant leap in space exploration -- to send astronauts to Mars.

To prepare for that leap, NASA stepped up development in 2014 of many game-changing technologies and capabilities.

The agency worked on solar electric propulsion technology ,which could enable cost-effective trips to deep space destinations.

Destinations that could include a human mission in the 2020s to an asteroid placed into orbit around the moon by a robotic spacecraft, as part of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission. Agency officials plan to announce more specific details about potential candidate asteroids and the design of the mission in early 2015. 

The successful first flight test in June of the saucer-shaped Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, demonstrated an inflatable system that could be used to land heavier and larger payloads than ever before on planets with atmospheres …

The International Space Station continued its role as a unique platform off the Earth where astronauts are working for the Earth, with biomedical research … and with payloads delivered by commercial partners SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation – such as the first 3-D printer in space… which could be used to manufacture parts in space….

… and the addition of an Earth science instrument to the space station’s exterior to monitor ocean surface wind speed and direction for use in weather forecasting and for monitoring large-scale changes in the Earth’s climate. 

In September, NASA selected two U.S. commercial providers, Boeing and SpaceX, to develop the systems to transport astronauts from U.S. soil to and from the space station … with a goal of ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

Development of the rocket and spacecraft designed to carry astronauts on NASA’s Journey to Mars progressed in 2014 …

The green light was given in August, to start building the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, following successful completion of a key review. New manufacturing facilities began testing operations and prototypes built with new, more lightweight composite materials were evaluated.

Launch Commentator:
“And liftoff at dawn, the dawn of Orion and a new era of American space exploration.”

The successful first flight test of NASA’s Orion spacecraft in December, was a historic moment for the agency and a critical step on the Journey to Mars. The 4.5 hour trip to space and back, tested the Orion systems critical to crew safety in preparation for deep space missions by astronauts to an asteroid and then on to the Red Planet. 

NASA’s fleet of Mars robotic explorers continued its work in 2014…

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft arrived at the Red Planet in September as the newest member of the fleet. MAVEN is on a mission to investigate how the past loss of atmospheric gases impacted the Martian climate through time.

Samples from the first rock drilled at the base of Mount Sharp by the Curiosity rover, provided the first confirmation of a mineral mapped from orbit by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. 

And the science instruments were selected for the Mars 2020 rover, the next robotic explorer NASA will send to Mars in 2020. It will conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations, including potential habitability of the current environment and directly searching for signs of past life.

Charlie Bolden:
“NASA’s role in studying and protecting our home planet has never been stronger.” 

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden called 2014 the “Year of Earth” for NASA – with the agency planning to launch five Earth science missions within a year’s time …

The first images from the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, launched in February, of an “extra-tropical cyclone” – illustrated the mission’s ability to provide next generation, detailed observations of global precipitation. 

In April, NASA celebrated Earth Day with the hugely popular online “global selfie” postings from around the world to help promote environmental awareness.

And the test data from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission following its launch in July, confirmed the health of the spacecraft’s instruments. OCO-2 will help track our impact on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the various human-made and natural sources of CO-2 

2014 included new discoveries, new intriguing mysteries and new reasons to explore our solar system – and beyond …

In November, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft – which has three NASA instruments onboard – successfully landed its Philae robotic probe on the surface of a speeding comet -- the first-ever soft landing of a spacecraft on a comet …

And, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope discovered a new Earth-sized planet in April, about 500 light-years from us that also may have liquid water. 

The agency’s premier aeronautics research centers continued work on solutions to help improve the safety, efficiency and comfort of air travel … while reminding people NASA is with you when you fly.

A demonstration in November featured a wing that can change shape in flight -- this could lead to technology for quieter and more fuel-efficient airliners …

In September, NASA co-hosted an event that showcased two new technologies being evaluated that could improve takeoff time predictability of flights and help flight dispatchers choose more efficient routes around bad weather.

Kali Armstrong:
“Home of the brave …”

And in May, NASA celebrated the renaming of its Dryden Flight Research Center to The Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center – and designated Hugh Dryden’s name to the center's aeronautical test range. 

That’s a look back at some of the top NASA stories of 2014 … Keep up with us in 2015 on social media and at www.nasa.gov/twan.

Last Updated: July 31, 2015
Editor: Gary Daines