This Week at NASA | This Week @ NASA: The Most Earth Size, Habitable Zone Planets around a Single Star
The Most Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets around a Single Star
NASA held a news conference Feb. 22 at the agency’s headquarters to discuss the finding by the agency’s Spitzer Space Telescope of seven Earth-sized planets around a tiny, relatively nearby, ultra-cool dwarf star. Three of the planets in this system, known as TRAPPIST-1, are in the habitable zone – the region around the star in which liquid water is most likely to thrive on a rocky planet. This is the first time so many planets have been found in a single star’s habitable zone outside our solar system, and is the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-sized worlds.
Kennedy’s Pad 39A, Back in Business
The Feb. 19 launch of a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station was the first mission from historic launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, in Florida since the last space shuttle mission in July 2011. It also was the first commercial launch from Kennedy, highlighting the center’s transition to a multi-user spaceport supporting government and commercial aerospace activities. The Dragon arrived at the station on Feb. 23 loaded with almost 5,500 pounds of experiments, hardware and supplies.
Russian Cargo Ship Arrives at Space Station
The station crew received another load of supplies on Feb. 24 with the arrival of an unpiloted Russian Progress cargo spacecraft, which launched two days earlier from Kazakhstan with almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies. It was the first launch of a Progress since a launch failure last December.
RS-25 Engine Tests Resume at Stennis
Engineers conducted the first RS-25 engine test of 2017 on Feb. 22 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Four RS-25 engines, together with a pair of solid rocket boosters, will power the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket during launch on missions to deep space. The 380-second test enabled engineers to evaluate the development engine’s performance under various operating conditions required for an SLS mission.
Structural Testing Begins on SLS Hardware
On Feb. 22, Integrated Structural Testing began at Marshall Space Flight Center with test articles of the Space Launch System’s Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter, Orion Stage Adapter, and Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, stacked in a test stand. The hardware is undergoing testing to ensure it can handle the stresses of a launch. The series of tests is expected to continue through early May.
55th Anniversary of Friendship 7 Flight
On Feb. 20, NASA’s Glenn Research Center teamed with the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Mercury Friendship 7 flight that made late astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn the first American to orbit Earth. The event also highlighted the work of NASA’s “Hidden Figures” – a group of women mathematicians who helped make Glenn’s and other historic spaceflights possible, as well as the present-day “Modern Figures” enabling current and future NASA missions.(c)2017 NASA | SCVTV