This Week at NASA | ISS, Katrina, Climate Studies, Webb, Crash Tests, 2 Black Holes
It was a busy week for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s fifth H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-5 arrived on Aug. 24 with more than 8,000 pounds of equipment, supplies and experiments in its pressurized cargo compartment. The delivery included an investigation that will search for signatures of dark matter, as well as enough additional food and supplies to last through 2015. Also, Soyuz relocated to Zvezda, Orion parachute drop test, Rising Seas, Hurricane Katrina remembrance, Tail first crash test, Webb telescope’s backplane arrives and Hubble’s double black hole.
Japanese supply ship delivers to space station
It was a busy week for the crew aboard the International Space Station. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s fifth H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-5 arrived on Aug. 24 with more than 8,000 pounds of equipment, supplies and experiments in its pressurized cargo compartment. The delivery included an investigation that will search for signatures of dark matter, as well as enough additional food and supplies to last through 2015.
Four days after HTV-5’s arrival, Expedition 44 crewmembers, including NASA’s Scott Kelly, undocked their Soyuz spacecraft from the station’s Poisk module and moved it to the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module. The relocation cleared Poisk for the arrival of Expedition 45 Commander Sergei Volkov and visiting crew members Andreas Mogensen and Aidyn Aimbetov – who are scheduled to launch to the station on Sept. 2.
On August 26, a test version of NASA’s Orion spacecraft – dropped by a C-17 aircraft about 35,000 feet above the Arizona desert – touched down safely despite engineers causing two of its parachutes to malfunction on purpose. Orion’s parachute system is a critical part of returning crews to Earth following future deep space missions. This was the next to last test before evaluations begin next year to qualify the parachute system for crewed flights.
NASA’s “Rising Seas” events provided a global outlook on current conditions and future projections of sea level rise. Over the course of several days, NASA experts discussed fieldwork conducted on the Greenland ice sheet this summer, new satellite views of sea level changes around the world and other data used in the latest scientific assessment of this worldwide environmental issue. Researchers around the world use NASA data captured from the vantage point of space, to tackle tough questions about sea level rise and other ways in which our planet is changing.
A remembrance ceremony was held on Aug. 27 at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The event honored 38 Michoud employees who protected critical space hardware during the storm, as well as the efforts of others across the region to help bring recovery to the area. A remembrance was also held at nearby Stennis Space Center in southern Mississippi featuring retired U.S. Army Lt. General Russel Honoré, Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina. Michoud and Stennis have – and will continue to play critical roles in helping NASA achieve its space exploration goals.
At Langley Research Center, a series of crash tests with a Cessna 172 aircraft concluded on Aug. 26 with a simulated tail first crash to test the onboard emergency locator transmitters (ELTs). The devices are installed on general aviation and commercial planes to transmit a location signal in the event of a crash. The research is funded by NASA’s Search and Rescue Mission Office at Goddard Space Flight Center.
Webb telescope’s backplane arrives
On Aug. 25, the flight backplane for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) arrived at Goddard Space Flight Center, on schedule for the observatory’s 2018 launch date. The backplane is the “spine” of the telescope and one of its most crucial components — responsible for holding its 18 hexagonal mirrors and its instruments steady while the telescope peers into deep space. The scientific successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the Webb will be the most powerful space telescope ever built.
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have found that two central black holes whirling about each other, power Markarian 231 — the closest galaxy to Earth that hosts a quasar. The finding suggests quasars, which are intense bright spots found in centers of galaxies, can be created by double-supermassive black holes that frantically orbit each other, generating tremendous amounts of energy in the process.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.
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