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This Week at NASA | This Week at NASA: Bolden on Manned Spaceflight Plans; Plumes on Europa; more

Uploaded 09/30/2016

This Week at NASA: Bolden on Manned Spaceflight Plans; Plumes on Europa; more

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden joined other leaders of the world’s space agencies to discuss the latest technological breakthroughs and developments in space exploration at the 67th International Astronautical Congress, Sept. 26-30th in Guadalajara, Mexico.
At the event, NASA discussed new elements to its multi-phase Journey to Mars to extend the human footprint all the way to the Red Planet. NASA will continue operations aboard the International Space Station through 2024. Work currently underway aboard the station to encourage commercial development of low-Earth orbit, develop deep space systems, life support and human health is part of the Earth Reliant phase of the Journey to Mars. In the 2020s, during the Proving Ground phase when NASA steps out farther, the agency now plans to send an astronaut crew on a yearlong mission to a deep space destination near the moon. They will conduct activities to verify habitation and test our readiness for Mars. A round-trip robotic Mars sample return mission is being targeted for the 2020s, as part of the Earth Independent phase before finally sending humans on a mission to orbit Mars in the early 2030s. Also, Zurbuchen Named Head of NASA Science, Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes on Europa, Rosetta’s Mission Ends, and Armstrong Celebrates 70 Years of Flight Research.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Journey to Mars Update

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden joined other leaders of the world’s space agencies to discuss the latest technological breakthroughs and developments in space exploration at the 67th International Astronautical Congress, Sept. 26-30th in Guadalajara, Mexico.

At the event, NASA discussed new elements to its multi-phase Journey to Mars to extend the human footprint all the way to the Red Planet. NASA will continue operations aboard the International Space Station through 2024. Work currently underway aboard the station to encourage commercial development of low-Earth orbit, develop deep space systems, life support and human health is part of the Earth Reliant phase of the Journey to Mars. In the 2020s, during the Proving Ground phase when NASA steps out farther, the agency now plans to send an astronaut crew on a yearlong mission to a deep space destination near the moon. They will conduct activities to verify habitation and test our readiness for Mars. A round-trip robotic Mars sample return mission is being targeted for the 2020s, as part of the Earth Independent phase before finally sending humans on a mission to orbit Mars in the early 2030s

Zurbuchen Named Head of NASA Science

On Sept. 27, NASA Administrator Bolden named Thomas Zurbuchen as the agency’s new associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. Zurbuchen is a professor of space science and aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His experience includes research in solar and heliospheric physics, experimental space research, space systems, and innovation and entrepreneurship. Zurbuchen’s new role at NASA officially begins on Oct. 3.

Hubble Spots Possible Water Plumes on Europa

Astronomer’s using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be high-altitude water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The plumes are estimated to rise about 125 miles before presumably raining material back down onto the surface. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the existence of the water vapor plumes. It also might provide opportunities to gather samples originating from the moon’s sub-surface ocean without having to land a spacecraft or drill through Europa’s icy surface. Following its launch in 2018, NASA may also use the infrared vision of the James Webb Space Telescope to confirm venting or plume activity on Europa. The agency also is formulating a mission to Europa with a payload that could confirm the presence of the plumes and study them from close range during multiple flybys.

Rosetta’s Mission Ends

On Sept. 30, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission concluded with a planned, controlled decent of the spacecraft from its orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, onto the comet’s surface. The mission, which launched in 2004 and included several NASA science instruments, is the first in history to rendezvous with a comet and escort it as it orbits the sun. In Nov. 2014, Philae, a small lander deployed from the Rosetta spacecraft, obtained the first images taken from a comet’s surface and sent back valuable scientific data to Earth.

Armstrong Celebrates 70 Years of Flight Research

NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, in Edwards, California, is celebrating 70 years of atmospheric flight research operations for the agency. Armstrong, which began its storied history in September 1946, initially focused on experimental aircraft called X-planes. In the decades that have followed, the center’s mission expanded to include roles in the Space Shuttle Program, aviation safety, and airborne science and technology advancement. Armstrong is returning to the age of X-planes with NASA’s first electric propulsion aircraft, named the X-57. The aircraft could lead to advances in fuel efficiency and reductions in noise and emissions.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.

 

 

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