This Week at NASA | Small Satellites, Juno Adjusts Course to Jupiter, more
During a Feb. 2 event at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, officials announced the selection of 13 low-cost small satellites to launch as secondary payloads on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) — the first flight of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, targeted for 2018. SLS’ first flight is designed to launch an un-crewed Orion spacecraft to a stable orbit beyond the moon to demonstrate and test systems for both the spacecraft and rocket before the first crewed flight of Orion. The announced CubeSat secondary payloads will carry science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the Journey to Mars.
Marshall Space Flight Center, which manages development of the SLS for NASA, has a new Center Director. On Feb. 1, Administrator Charlie Bolden named Todd May to the post. May had been serving as acting director since the November 2015 retirement of previous Center Director Patrick Scheuermann. Since 2011, May has successfully led the Space Launch System program through a series of developmental milestones. The SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built.
The 18th and final primary mirror segment on what will be the biggest and most powerful space telescope ever launched — the James Webb Space Telescope — was installed Feb. 4 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The installation is an important milestone in the assembly of the tennis court-sized infrared observatory. The Webb telescope will study every phase in the history of our universe, including the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets similar to Earth, as well as the evolution of our own solar system. Webb is targeted to launch in 2018.
On Feb. 3, NASA’s Juno spacecraft executed the first of two maneuvers to fine tune its course to its target destination — Jupiter. The trajectory adjustment took place when the spacecraft was about 51 million miles from Jupiter and approximately 425 million miles from Earth. Juno will spend a year studying Jupiter’s atmosphere, interior and magnetosphere from an unprecedented perspective. This will improve our understanding of the solar system’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of the planet. Juno, which is scheduled to rendezvous with Jupiter on July 4, will perform the next trajectory correction maneuver around late May.
Aboard the International Space Station, Russian cosmonauts Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos conducted a spacewalk on Feb. 3 to install experiment packages on the outside of the Russian segment of the station, retrieve some experiments that have been gathering data for several months, and install devices on the hull of the station to facilitate the movement of crew members on future spacewalks. The spacewalk was the 193rd in support of space station assembly and maintenance.
About eight acres of redwood planks previously used as roofing material for Ames Research Center’s iconic Hangar One at Moffett Field, California have found new purpose at nearby Levi’s Stadium — the brand-new home of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers, and the site of the Feb. 7 Super Bowl. Incorporating the reclaimed and locally sourced material into the stadium structure earned it the federally recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA
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