This Week at NASA | A Year of Curiosity; Asteroid Mission Formulation; more
Celebration, when the Curiosity Rover safely found the surface of Mars on August 6, 2012 … and celebration this week on Capitol Hill as NASA and members of Congress mark the one year anniversary of the Martian landing and showcase the ways the rover is helping us get to know Mars. During another event to celebrate Curiosity at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, members of the Curiosity team presented White House officials with a replica of the plaque flown on the mission and signed by the President. Curiosity’s landing ignited a new generation of excitement which grew even more when the rover found evidence that Mars could’ve sustained life in the past. NASA and the rest of Earth looks forward to future finds on Mars from Curiosity and other missions. Also, Bolden Visits Wallops, Asteroid Mission Formulation Review, Following The Water, Preparing For Tomorrow, SLS Design Gets “OK”, NASA Gets New Chief Scientist, X-Ray Eclipse, Commercial Crew Industry Day, Train Like An Astronaut, Promoting Stem & Safety and more.
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DC CELEBRATES CURIOSITY – HQ
MSL Control Room at Mars Landing:
“Touchdown confirmed, we’re safe on Mars. (applause)”
Celebration, when the Curiosity Rover safely found the surface of Mars on August 6, 2012 … and celebration this week on Capitol Hill as NASA and members of Congress mark the one year anniversary of the Martian landing and showcase the ways the rover is helping us get to know Mars.
During another event to celebrate Curiosity at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, members of the Curiosity team presented White House officials with a replica of the plaque flown on the mission and signed by the President.
Curiosity’s landing ignited a new generation of excitement which grew even more when the rover found evidence that Mars could’ve sustained life in the past. NASA and the rest of Earth looks forward to future finds on Mars from Curiosity and other missions.
BOLDEN VISITS WALLOPS – WFF
At Wallops Flight Facility, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and members of the NASA Advisory Council received a status report on two major launches scheduled from the Facility in September. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer or LADEE mission will launch September. 6 – followed by the demo flight of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo craft to the International Space Station in the September 14-19 timeframe.
ASTEROID MISSION FORMULATION REVIEW – HQ
NASA has completed the first step toward a mission to find and capture a near-Earth asteroid, redirect it to a stable lunar orbit and send humans to study it. In preparation for fiscal year 2014, NASA managers held a mission formulation review to examine internal studies on concepts and alternatives for each phase of that mission.
The agency also is evaluating about 400-plus responses from industry, universities, and the public to a recent request for information, or RFI put out by NASA for ideas on tackling the asteroid initiative.
Managers plan to integrate the most highly-rated ideas into an asteroid mission baseline concept to further develop in 2014. The asteroid mission is one step in NASA’s strategy to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.
FOLLOWING THE WATER – JSC
Chris Cassidy, NASA Astronaut:
Aboard the International Space Station Chris Cassidy pointed out where water entered crewmate Luca Parmitano’s helmet during a July 16 spacewalk.
Chris Cassidy, NASA Astronaut:
NASA still is investigating where the water came from — spacewalk specialists believe the problem is connected to the suit’s Portable Life Support System backpack.
PREPARING FOR TOMORROW – KSC
KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building turned 50 recently. Most space fans have seen pictures of a space shuttle being stacked inside the VAB … but this concept image is a possible glimpse into the future and what stacking of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion Spacecraft will look like. While that plan comes together, crane operators and technicians have been practicing lifting a full-size mock-up of Orion so they’ll be ready when it’s time for the real thing in 2017.
SLS DESIGN GETS “OK” – MSFC
And a major milestone for building of the SLS. Passing the preliminary design review, or PDR means the current design of NASA’s next heavy-lift launch vehicle meets system requirements with acceptable risk, cost and schedule constraints.
Final details of the review will be presented to Administrator Bolden for permission to move on from design phase to production.
NASA GETS NEW CHIEF SCIENTIST – HQ
Meanwhile, Bolden named planetary geologist Ellen Stofan the agency’s chief scientist, Stofan will be Bolden’s principal advisor on the agency’s science programs and science-related strategic planning and investments. Stofan begins her new role on Aug. 25.
X-RAY ECLIPSE – CXC
For over two decades, many exoplanets have been observed passing in front of their parent stars. But not in X-ray vision — until now! Thanks to the extraordinary alignment of planet HD 189733b and its parent star, 63 light-years from Earth, the Chandra X-ray Observatory was able to capture the first ever X-ray pictures of a planet eclipsing its sun. The planet — similar in size to Jupiter – is more than 30 times closer to its parent star than we are to our sun.
COMMERCIAL CREW INDUSTRY DAY – KSC
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is preparing to enter its final phase of agency certification efforts. A Pre-Solicitation Conference was held at Kennedy Space Center to involve industry in the draft Request for Proposal or RFP process. The conference aimed to provide a greater understanding for all parties before the official RFP is released this fall. The Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract will include a commercial company completing at least one crewed flight test to the International Space Station. This is all part of the agency’s work with U.S. companies to provide commercial spaceflights for NASA astronauts and others to low-Earth orbit, including the space station.
TRAIN LIKE AN ASTRONAUT – JSC
Astronaut Mike Hopkins, who’s headed to the International Space Station on September 25 as a part of Expedition 37/38, gave kids at Johnson Space Center an idea what it’s like to Train Like an Astronaut. The Train Like an Astronaut program teaches students physical activities that are a lot like exercises astronaut do in their actual workouts.
PROMOTING STEM & SAFETY – HQ
High school interns with NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation Program, or (IV&V) shared their Summer experience working at the West Virginia facility during presentations at NASA Headquarters. Established as a result of the Challenger accident IV&V focuses on agency safety and mission assurance.
Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator:
For the past 20 years, the IV&V program has helped expose interns to STEM careers at NASA.
DEVELOPING THE FUTURE – HQ/LaRC
Also at headquarters, NASA’s DEVELOP Program held an end-of-summer open house to show off presentations and examples of work by students and young professionals in the program. DEVELOP lets participants use NASA Earth observations to address community concerns and public policy issues. For more information on NASA’s DEVELOP Program, visit http://develop.larc.nasa.gov/.
NASA ANNIVERSARY: Neil Armstrong’s Birthday, August 5, 1930
And August 5 is the date the late great Neil Armstrong was born 83 years ago in Wapakoneta, Ohio. The famed test pilot and NASA astronaut became the first person to walk on the moon in July 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission. We lost Neil last August – but what he did and the person he was continues to inspire and set the standard for those who’ve followed him.
Gene Cernan, Apollo 17 Commander):
And that’s This Week @NASA.