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Uploaded 04/17/2017

This Week @ NASA: Oceans Beyond Earth

Oceans Beyond Earth

Two long-running NASA missions are providing new details about ocean bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn – further heightening scientific interest in these and other “ocean worlds” in our solar system and beyond. The details – discussed during an April 13 NASA science briefing – include the announcement by the Cassini mission that a key ingredient for life has been found in the ocean on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Meanwhile, researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope observed a probable plume erupting from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa, at the same location where Hubble saw evidence of a plume in 2014. Researchers say this could be circumstantial evidence of water erupting from the moon’s interior. Hubble’s monitoring of plume activity on Europa and Cassini’s long-term investigation of Enceladus are laying the groundwork for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, which is being planned for launch in the 2020s.

Expedition 50 Returns Home Safely

On April 10, the International Space Station’s Expedition 50 crew, including NASA’s Shane Kimbrough returned safely to Earth, hours after leaving the station. Kimbrough and crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, landed in Kazakhstan – wrapping up a 173-day mission. Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA remains on the station, along with her crewmates Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency).

Next Space Station Crew at Launch Site

Meanwhile, Expedition 51-52, the next crew headed to the station, is conducting final pre-launch activities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA’s Jack Fischer and Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos will launch from Baikonur April 20 for a four and a half month mission on the space station. The backup crew – NASA’s Randy Bresnik and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos also are participating in the pre-launch activities.

Student Launch Event

NASA announced the preliminary winners of its 2017 Student Launch event. Overall winners will be announced in mid-May after final calculations have been reviewed for accuracy. The event took place April 8 in Toney, Alabama, near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Students demonstrated advanced aerospace and engineering skills by launching their rockets to an altitude of one mile, deploying an automated parachute system and landing the rocket safely for reuse. The event aligns with NASA’s major education goal of encouraging students to pursue degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Groundbreaking for New Lab

On April 11, a groundbreaking took place at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for Langley’s new Measurement Systems Laboratory. State and local officials and community leaders attended the event – including Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, and Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck. The 175,000-square-foot lab will be a world-class facility for research and development of new measurement concepts, technologies, and systems that will enable NASA to achieve its mission in space exploration, science, and aeronautics.

Yuri’s Night, First Space Shuttle Mission Celebrated

On April 11, space fans showed up at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington for one of the many Yuri’s Night celebrations around the world. The events are held each year on or around April 12. On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel to space. On April 12, 1981, NASA astronauts John Young and Bob Crippen launched aboard space shuttle Columbia on STS-1 – the two-day mission was the first in the shuttle program’s 30-year history.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …

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