This Week a NASA | Orion Capsule Recovery Test; New JPL Test Vehicle; more
NASA wrapped up its second Underway Recovery Test Aug. 4 with the Orion spacecraft, off the coast of San Diego, California. The agency teamed with Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense’s Human Space Flight Support Detachment 3 to evaluate primary and alternative methods to recover Orion after the spacecraft safely splashes down in the ocean at the conclusion of future deep space missions. Orion’s first spaceflight test with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean is targeted for December. Also, Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator update, 2nd anniversary: 7 Minutes of Terror, Bolden visits MMS at Naval Research Lab, Scanning for algal blooms, Earth science showcase, and more.
NASA wrapped up its second Underway Recovery Test Aug. 4 with the Orion spacecraft, off the coast of San Diego, California. The agency teamed with Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Navy and the Department of Defense’s Human Space Flight Support Detachment 3 to evaluate primary and alternative methods to recover Orion after the spacecraft safely splashes down in the ocean at the conclusion of future deep space missions. Orion’s first spaceflight test with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean is targeted for December.
During an August 8 news briefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, NASA released new video from last month’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator test in Hawaii and discussed early results of the test. The successful cross-cutting demonstration of the LDSD project’s saucer-shaped test vehicle was designed to evaluate technologies for safely landing larger and heavier payloads on the surface of Mars and other planets with atmospheres.
Aug. 5 Pacific Time… was the 2-year anniversary of the Curiosity rover’s landing on Mars – after surviving the dreaded “seven minutes of terror” descent to the Martian surface. To help mark the occasion, a book release of Mars Up Close at National Geographic in Washington, DC included a panel discussion with author Marc Kaufman and several NASA representatives. Curiosity continues to explore Mars, but its met its major objective of finding evidence of a past environment that could have supported microbial life.
On Aug. 4, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden visited the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington to view the Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft, or MMS, following the observatory’s final thermal vacuum test at the lab. Targeted to launch in 2015, MMS is a quartet of spacecraft that will investigate a mysterious process known as magnetic reconnection, during which magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy. The mission also will provide the first three-dimensional views of this fundamental process that occurs throughout our universe.
During an Aug. 5 flight aboard an aircraft equipped with NASA remote sensing technology previously developed for Mars exploration, engineers from Glenn Research Center imaged western Lake Erie to learn more about the algal bloom that contaminated water supplies in parts of Ohio and Michigan recently. NASA and NOAA satellite imagery currently is used to identify, monitor and map potentially harmful algal blooms, but can be obscured by weather. Airborne remote-sensing makes monitoring possible during cloud cover and in parts of the world where satellite imagery is not available.
Earth science showcase
The same day as the algal bloom flight, results of more than thirty projects were presented by young Earth science professionals at the annual DEVELOP Earth Science Applications Summer Showcase at NASA headquarters. The projects were designed to demonstrate innovative and practical applications of NASA Earth observations to community concerns around the globe — addressing a wide range of environmental and public policy issues. The DEVELOP Program bridges the gap between NASA Earth science and society, enabling participants and partner organizations to better handle the challenges facing society today and in the future.
Administrator Bolden was at Goddard Space Flight Center recently, to announce, with Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee… the 2013 Small Business Federal Procurement Scorecard. NASA received an “A” – up from a “C” three years earlier. NASA’s Office of Small Business Programs helps develop small businesses in high tech areas, including technology transfer and commercialization of technology.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.
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