This Week at NASA | Drop-testing a Helicopter; LADEE to the Moon; Asteroid Search; more
NASA prepares for the launch of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer or LADEE probe to the moon. Also, a new crew of ISS Astronauts meet the Media, and the Spitzer and WISE Telescopes get ready to help in the search for asteroids. These stories and more on This Week @NASA.
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LUNAR DUST MISSION – WFF/GSFC/ARC
Final preparations are being made to launch the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer or LADEE probe to study the structure and composition of the Moon’s atmosphere and determine whether dust is being lofted into the lunar sky.
Brian Day, LADEE Team Member:
NASA TV will carry the LADEE launch from Wallops Flight Facility Friday night, Sept. 6 … and Orbital Sciences Corporation has tips on their website for seeing the launch from spots around the Washington Metro area.
MAVEN’S ROCKET – KSC
The Atlas V rocket that will send NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution or MAVEN spacecraft to the Red Planet arrived at Port Canaveral, Florida. MAVEN will be the first mission dedicated to searching for clues about what existed in the upper atmosphere of Ancient Mars. Launch is scheduled for November 18.
EXPEDITION 38/39 MEETS THE MEDIA – JSC
Rick Mastracchio, NASA Astronaut:
During a press conference at Johnson Space Center, members of Expedition 38/39, the next crew headed to the International Space Station, met the media. Astronauts Rick Mastracchio of NASA, Koichi Wakata of JAXA and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin will launch in their Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 6.
SCOPING FOR ASTEROIDS – JPL/HQ
In its first ten years NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope used its infrared vision to discover carbon spheres in space called buckyballs and the first ever light from a planet outside our solar system. Spitzer will start its second decade of observations helping scope out potential asteroid candidates for the agency’s asteroid capture and redirection mission – starting in October with a small near-Earth asteroid named 2009 DB.
And in September, NASA plans to wake up and use the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer or WISE telescope for its asteroid hunting ability. WISE will look for asteroids suitable for exploration as well as those potentially hazardous to Earth. Part of the successful Near Earth Object survey mission called NEOWISE, the telescope was put to sleep in 2011.
3-D INJECTOR TESTED – MSFC
The largest 3-D printed rocket injector NASA has ever tested blazed to life during a hot-fire test that generated a record 20-thousand pounds of thrust. The successful test of the subscale injector, made using additive manufacturing technology, is a milestone in the agency’s quest to use the advanced technology to make space hardware at reduced cost. The complex part was made using just two pieces from a 3-D printing machine – compared to the 115 pieces used in traditional manufacturing.
NEW PIPES FOR ENGINE TESTS– SSC
At Stennis Space Center, workers are busy preparing the A-1 test stand for new testing of the RS-25 engine. The test stand is being outfitted with a piping system for liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen and other elements needed to test these engines that will power the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System.
SAFETY DROP TEST – LARC
At Langley Research Center a helicopter was dropped from about 30 feet at the center’s Impact Research Facility. NASA, The Army, Navy and FAA crashed the copter to test its improved seats and seat belts and to analyze new techniques and crashworthiness data. The 30 mile per hour impact is considered severe but survivable under civilian and military requirements.
NUSTAR DELIVERS X-RAY GOODS – JPL
The first batch of X-ray image data from NASA’s black-hole hunting Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR is publicly available via NASA’s High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center. The images, taken from July to August 2012, shortly after the spacecraft launched, include an assortment of extreme objects, including black holes near and far.
WEBB TELESCOPE MINI-ME – GSFC
There’s a James Webb Space Telescope Mini-Me at Goddard Space Flight Center. The team of engineering students that built the 1/6th scale model as part of a mentoring program gained valuable hands-on experience in design and development of complex space systems. There are plans to also use the model to help the public understand the challenges of advancing space science.
NASA ANNIVERSARY: Launch of The Van Allen Probes, August 30, 2012 – HQ
One year ago, on August 30, 2012 The Van Allen Probes were launched to study the Van Allen radiation belts around Earth and space weather – which can disrupt satellites, GPS communications and cause power grid failures. The Van Allen Probes will help researchers better design spacecraft that can survive the rigors of outer space.
FULLERTON REMEMBERED – DFRC
The NASA family is mourning the loss of astronaut Gordon Fullerton, who logged over 300 hours in space – including the Spacelab 2 mission and STS-3 – the only shuttle mission to land at White Sands, New Mexico. His 22-years as a test pilot at Dryden Flight Research Center included work with the F-15, the X-38 and the X-43A. Fullerton had been in a California long-term care facility since having a stroke in 2009. He died August 21 at the age of 76.
And that’s This Week @NASA.