This Week at NASA | ISS Astronauts Take a Walk; Curiosity Rover Heads for the Hills; more
STATION SPACEWALK — JSC
Outside the International Space Station, Expedition 36 Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency conducted a 6-hour, 7-minute spacewalk July 9 to replace a communications receiver, relocate grapple bars for future spacewalks and install cables for a future Russian laboratory module. The spacewalk was the fifth for Cassidy and the first for Parmitano, who became the first Italian astronaut to walk in space.
CURIOSITY ROVER UPDATE — JPL
NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has departed its last science target in the “Glenelg” area and begun a many-month journey to the base of Mount Sharp, the mission’s main destination.
In the middle of Gale Crater, Mount Sharp exposes many layers where scientists anticipate finding evidence about how the ancient Martian environment changed and evolved.
MARS 2020 REPORT — HQ
NASA hosted a media teleconference to share details of a new report that will help define science objectives for the agency’s next Mars rover. Prepared by the NASA-appointed Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, the report is an early, crucial step in developing the mission and the rover’s prime science objectives.
Voice of Jim Green, NASA Director of Planetary Science: “It really fits well within our approach, our science strategy for Mars of seeking the signs of life.”
Voice of John Grunsfeld, NASA Associate Administrator for Science: “There’s really an enormous amount of room for creativity and innovation and partnership that will allow us to send this next rover to Mars in 2020 that will help us answer some of these core questions.” (8:24)
The complete Science Definition Team report is available online at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/m2020/
TARGET NEO 2 — HQ/APL
NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier was one of the featured presenters at The Target NEO 2 workshop at Washington’s National Academy of Sciences. Discussion at the event focused on the technical challenges and new capabilities needed for successful robotic and human exploration of asteroids and other Near Earth Objects — including NASA’s newly proposed initiative to capture and redirect an asteroid for human study.
GREEN PROPELLANT — HQ
A press conference in Washington about NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission, or GPIM, gave agency officials an opportunity to discuss the mission’s first thruster pulsing test. The GPIM program is demonstrating a high-performance “green” fuel in space which offers nearly 50 percent better performance and safer handling than traditional hydrazine.
Mike Gazarik, Associate Administrator, Space Technology Mission Directorate: “With this GPIM, the propellant we’re talking about today, you can load that spacecraft and ship it and that changes really the game, right? Of how we do spacecraft processing.”
BOLDEN AT GODDARD — GSFC
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden joined Goddard Space Flight Center Director Chris Scolese for a town hall meeting with employees in the Building 8 auditorium, where Bolden praised the Goddard community for ongoing contributions to the agency’s ground-breaking scientific achievements.
Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator: “It’s hard to find somebody who can compete with what you do and that’s because of the incredible amount of work that you do in Earth science. (butt) I love the term we take the impossible and make it possible. Or we turn science fiction into science fact and we do that every single day.”
The event was also seen by employees at Wallops and other Goddard facilities via video teleconference.
ROCKET ENGINE INJECTOR TESTED — GRC
NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne of West Palm Beach, Fla., recently completed testing in Glenn Research Center’s Rocket Combustion Lab of a rocket engine injector nozzle made with advanced “3D printing.” technology. This could lead to more efficient and cost effective manufacturing of rocket engines.
GAME CHANGING CRYO FUEL TANK — MSFC
The successful test at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center of a pressurized, large cryogenic propellant tank made of composite materials — instead of metal, marked a major space technology development milestone for the agency. The new composite tank and is considered game changing because it may reduce the cost and weight of future launch vehicles and other space missions.
THE SOLAR SYSTEM’S TAIL — GSFC
During NASA’s first news briefing using Google+, the agency announced that new mapping data from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX mission shows that the solar system’s tail is shaped like a four-leaf clover. Scientists describe the heliotail, as they call it, in a paper published in the July 10 edition of the Astrophysical Journal.
NASA ANNIVERSARY: July 15, 2011 — Dawn Spacecraft Captured in Orbit by Vesta
On July 15, 2011 — Pacific Daylight Time, after nearly four years of travel through the solar system, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was was gently captured in orbit by the asteroid Vesta — making Dawn the first spacecraft to orbit a main belt asteroid in the region between Mars and Jupiter. It spent more than 13 months examining the gigantic protoplanet with all of its sensors before leaving in September 2012. Dawn is now headed for the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body between the sun and Neptune not yet visited by a spacecraft.
And that’s This Week @NASA.