This Week at NASA | This Week at NASA: Small Satellites, Next-Gen Air Traffic Control, more
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden visited aeronautics and space research facilities at Ames Research Center on March 17, including the laboratory for the volleyball-sized satellites called SPHERES, which are used onboard the International Space Station for space robotics and spacecraft navigation experiments. He also saw the high-fidelity airport control tower simulator called, “Future Flight Central”, used by NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and other industry partners for joint research on next-generation air traffic management. Also, Rocket for Orion’s flight test highlighted, Future explorer celebrated at KSC, NASA’s new Chief Technologist, Coastal Flooding Challenge, Next space station crews , Hubble 24th anniversary image and more.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden visited Ames Research Center on March 17 to check out aeronautics and space research facilities at the center — including the laboratory for the volleyball-sized free-flying satellites called SPHERES. These are used on the International Space Station for experiments in space robotics and spacecraft navigation. He also saw the center’s high-fidelity airport control tower simulator, dubbed Future Flight Central, where he was briefed on joint research underway with the Federal Aviation Administration and industry partners on next-generation air traffic management.
NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot spoke to the media on March 17 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37 – where two booster stages are being prepared to launch NASA’s Orion spacecraft on its first trip into space, later this year. Three boosters in all will power the United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket with Orion on top for its Exploration Flight Test-1. The two-orbits-around-the- Earth test will provide engineers with important data about Orion’s heat shield and other elements to improve the spacecraft being designed to carry astronauts to an asteroid, Mars and other deep space destinations.
Connor Johnson, the six-year-old from Denver, Colorado who started a White House petition drive to save NASA’s funding, met with Kennedy Space Center Director and former astronaut Bob Cabana at the KSC Visitor Complex on March 15. Cabana presented him with an autographed picture and a bolt brought back from the International Space Station on his STS-88 shuttle mission, the first space station construction flight. Connor, who wants to become an astronaut, would be old enough to do just that right around the time NASA plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.
At NASA headquarters, David W. Miller, began his tenure as the agency’s new Chief Technologist. The professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be Administrator Bolden’s principal advisor on matters concerning agency-wide technology policy and programs. Miller has worked with several NASA projects, including SPHERES and the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission planned for 2016.
A new challenge focused on coastal flooding will be included in the third annual International Space Apps Challenge – a “codeathon”-style event to be hosted April 12 and 13 by NASA and other space agencies around the world. Announced by NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan at the March 19 Climate Data Initiative launch at the White House, The Coastal Inundation in Your Community challenge is one of four climate-related challenges using data provided by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. The challenge encourages entrepreneurs, technologists, and developers to create and deploy data-driven visualizations and simulations to help people understand their exposure to coastal-flooding hazards.
The next two crews bound for the International Space Station continued preparing for their missions. At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 39/40 Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev conducted a fit check in their Soyuz spacecraft — they launch in late March. Meanwhile, a news conference was held at Johnson Space Center with NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst – the crew of Expedition 40/41 — scheduled to launch in late May. And the current crew onboard the orbiting laboratory helped bring space a little closer to viewers of National Geographic’s two-hour Live From Space program The show featured details about the science and the mission of the ISS.
To celebrate the 24th anniversary of the April 24, 1990 launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have released an infrared image of an active region of star birth, located 64-hundred light years away in a small portion of the Monkey Head Nebula. The mosaic reveals dense knots of gas and dust silhouetted against glowing gas. Hubble is a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency.
Using cameras aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, scientists have created the largest high resolution mosaic of our moon’s north polar region. Constructed from 10-thousand-581 pictures, there’s enough detail in the mosaic to see textures and subtle shading of the lunar terrain. The entire image measures nearly 867-billion pixels total.
And that’s what’s up … This Week at NASA.
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