This Week at NASA | This Week @ NASA: What’s Happened So Far Mid-Year @ NASA
This year is shaping up to be full of unprecedented exploration, amazing discoveries, technological advances and progress in development of future missions for NASA. Here are some of the top stories of 2017, so far – Mid-Year at NASA!
New Discovery Missions (1/6/17 TW@N)
In January we announced two new missions to previously unexplored asteroids. The Lucy mission in 2021 will study so-called Trojan asteroids trapped by Jupiter’s gravity, and the Psyche mission in 2023 will investigate a very large metal object in the solar system’s asteroid belt. Both missions can teach us more about the earliest eras of our solar system.
The Most Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets around a Single Star (2-24-17 TW@N)
In February we announced our Spitzer Space Telescope has found seven Earth-sized planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system – about 235 trillion miles away. Three of the planets are in that system’s habitable zone – which means liquid water is possible. It’s the most planets ever found in a single star’s habitable zone, and the best target yet to study potentially habitable Earth-sized worlds.
Kennedy’s Pad 39A, Back in Business (2-24-17 TW@N)
We highlighted the transition of Kennedy Space Center to a multi-user spaceport with the February launch of a SpaceX resupply mission to the International Space Station. It was the first commercial launch from Kennedy, and the first from historic launch pad 39A since the final space shuttle mission in 2011.
President Signs NASA Transition Authorization Act (3-24-17 TW@N)
In March, President Trump signed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017. The bipartisan legislation reaffirms Congress’ commitment to the agency. Our acting Administrator, Robert Lightfoot thanked the president and Congress for their support.
Whitson Receives Call from President Trump (4-28-17 TW@N)
In April, the President called the International Space Station to congratulate Peggy Whitson on her 535th day in space — a new record for cumulative time in space by a U.S. astronaut.
Oceans Beyond Earth (4-14-17 TW@N)
We announced our Cassini mission found a key ingredient for life in the ocean on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and that our Hubble Space Telescope might have spotted a vapor plume on Jupiter’s moon Europa in the same location a plume was seen in 2014 – possible evidence of subsurface water on the icy moon.
Cassini Begins its Grand Finale (4-28-17 TW@N, Imagery on 5-5-17 TW@N)
Cassini also made its first dive through the narrow gap between Saturn and its rings – returning the first ever images from that previously unexplored region. Cassini is making 22 dives as part of it’s Grand Finale. The mission will conclude with a science-rich plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15.
First Science Results from Juno Mission (2-3-17 TW@N)
In May, the first science results from our Juno spacecraft revealed that Jupiter has Earth-sized polar cyclones, a magnetic field that is stronger than expected, and plunging storm systems that reach down much deeper into the planet’s atmosphere than expected.
Milestone Spacewalk on the Space Station (5-12-17 TW@N)
A milestone spacewalk aboard the International Space Station. Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer completed the 200th spacewalk in support of station assembly and maintenance. Just over a week later, Whitson moved into third place on the all-time list for cumulative spacewalking time following the station’s 201st spacewalk.
James Webb Space Telescope at JSC (5-12-17 TW@N)
Our James Webb Space Telescope was shipped to Johnson Space Center for cryogenic testing in Johnson’s Chamber A – the same “deep-freeze” vacuum chamber where Apollo lunar spacecraft were tested. This is Webb’s last critical test before launch in 2018.
First Mission into the Sun’s Atmosphere (6-2-17 TW@N)
In early June, Solar Probe Plus – the first mission designed to fly directly into the sun’s atmosphere – was renamed the Parker Solar Probe, in honor of University of Chicago physicist, Eugene Parker. Parker is best known for developing the concept of solar wind. The mission launches in 2018 to study the physics of stars.
Vice President Welcomes New Astronaut Class (6/9/17 TW@N)
And Vice President Mike Pence helped announce America’s newest class of astronaut candidates at Johnson Space Center. Out of more than 18,000 applicants, 12 men and women were selected. Making the 2017 astronaut class — the largest selected since 2000. Future astronauts will launch on American-made commercial spacecraft and carry out exploration missions that will take humans farther into space than ever before.
(c)2017 NASA | SCVTV
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