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This Week at NASA | Humanity’s Eye into the Universe

Uploaded 11/04/2016

Humanity’s Eye into the Universe

During a Nov. 2 media event at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Administrator Charlie Bolden was joined by Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese and Senior Project Scientist, Dr. John Mather for an update on the James Webb Space Telescope, including a rare glimpse at the telescope’s primary mirror. Engineers and technicians recently completed a “Center of Curvature” test on the mirror, which measures the shape of the mirror. This is the first important optical measurement before the mirror goes into the testing chambers. Meanwhile, the telescope’s sunshield layers also have been finished. This will protect Webb’s sensitive instruments from the sun when the telescope is in space. The Webb Telescope, which is targeted for launch in 2018, will study every phase in the history of our universe, including the cosmos’ first luminous glows, the formation of planetary systems capable of supporting life, and the evolution of our own solar system. Also, Expedition 49 Returns Safely from the International Space Station, Next Space Station Crew Travels to Launch Site, Agency Innovation Mission Day, SDO Captures Lunar Transit, and World Altitude Record for MMS.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Humanity’s Eye into the Universe

During a Nov. 2 media event at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Administrator Charlie Bolden was joined by Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese and Senior Project Scientist, Dr. John Mather for an update on the James Webb Space Telescope, including a rare glimpse at the telescope’s primary mirror. Engineers and technicians recently completed a “Center of Curvature” test on the mirror, which measures the shape of the mirror. This is the first important optical measurement before the mirror goes into the testing chambers. Meanwhile, the telescope’s sunshield layers also have been finished. This will protect Webb’s sensitive instruments from the sun when the telescope is in space. The Webb Telescope, which is targeted for launch in 2018, will study every phase in the history of our universe, including the cosmos’ first luminous glows, the formation of planetary systems capable of supporting life, and the evolution of our own solar system.

Expedition 49 Returns Safely from the International Space Station

On Oct. 30 Kazakhstan time, the International Space Station’s Expedition 49 crew, including NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, returned to Earth. The Soyuz spacecraft carrying Rubins and her crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, touched down safely in Kazakhstan.  During their 115 days in space, the Expedition 49 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, and Rubins became the first person to sequence DNA in space.

Next Space Station Crew Travels to Launch Site

Meanwhile, prelaunch training continues for Expedition 50-51 – the next crew headed to the space station. NASA’s Peggy Whitson, Oleg Novitskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency participated in traditional ceremonies in Star City, Russia Nov. 1, with members of the back-up crew. They later headed to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for final preparations for the launch of Novitskiy, Whitson and Pesquet on Nov. 17 Eastern time, for a five-month mission on the space station.

Agency Innovation Mission Day

Also on Nov. 1, NASA held an Agency Innovation Mission (AIM) Day to highlight innovation by NASA employees across the agency. The event featured a keynote speech by Deputy Administrator Dava Newman from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The endeavor also featured online cross-center collaboration activities, and other special events to allow employees across the agency to pitch innovative ideas. AIM Day is a project of the NASA FIRST leadership program, which is designed to develop future agency leaders.

SDO Captures Lunar Transit

On Oct. 30, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or (SDO), experienced a partial solar eclipse in space when it caught the moon passing in front of the sun. The lunar transit lasted an hour, with the moon covering about 59 percent of the sun at the peak of its journey across the face of the sun. SDO captured these images in extreme ultraviolet light, which is invisible to human eyes. The imagery is colorized in red to make it visible.

World Altitude Record for MMS

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, or MMS, now holds the Guinness World Record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal. The mission’s four identical satellites set the record while operating in a highly elliptical orbit 43,500 miles above Earth. The team of satellites incorporates GPS measurements into their precise tracking systems, which require extremely sensitive position and orbit calculations to guide tight flying formations. Earlier this year, MMS achieved the closest flying separation of a multi-spacecraft formation with only four-and-a-half miles between the four satellites. MMS is giving scientists new insight into a phenomenon known as magnetic reconnection, which occurs as the sun and Earth’s magnetic fields interact. Studying this process could help scientists better understand other naturally occurring phenomena around the universe.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA.

 

 

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