This Week at NASA | This Week @ NASA: New Horizons Detects Next Flyby Target
New Horizons spots its next flyby target … Administrator Bridenstine visits our west coast facilities … and using data from space to fight a life-threatening disease … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!
New Horizons Makes First Detection of Kuiper Belt Flyby Target
Our New Horizons spacecraft has made its first detection of the Kuiper Belt object it is scheduled to flyby on New Year’s Day, 2019. The small, dim object – nicknamed Ultima Thule – was detected by the spacecraft’s telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager from a distance of more than 100 million miles. The flyby will be the first-ever close-up exploration of a small Kuiper Belt object and the farthest exploration of any planetary body in history, shattering the record New Horizons itself set at Pluto in July 2015 – by about 1 billion miles. The Kuiper Belt is a ring of icy objects around the Sun – that extends just beyond the orbit of Neptune and includes Pluto.
Administrator Visits California Centers
On Aug. 27, our administrator, Jim Bridenstine kicked off a series of visits to our west coast centers and facilities with a stop at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. While there, he visited labs and test beds related to the InSight Mars lander, the Mars 2020 rover, and the Mars Helicopter. The next day, at our Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, Bridenstine heard about a number of aeronautical research projects and visited Mojave Air and Space Port. The administrator’s final stop was Ames Research Center, in northern California. While there, he talked to the Ames workforce and saw innovative thermal protection materials being develop to support the agency’s space exploration missions. He also spoke to the NASA Advisory Council about our plans to return humans to the lunar surface.
NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine:
NASA Investment in Cholera Forecasts Helps Save Lives in Yemen
For the first time ever, measurements from our Earth-observing research satellites are being used to help combat a potential outbreak of the life-threatening disease, cholera.
A humanitarian effort in Yemen is targeting areas identified by a NASA-supported project that precisely forecasts high-risk regions for the disease, based on environmental conditions observed from space. The forecasts are made using data from our Global Precipitation Measurement mission, and our Terra and Aqua satellites, as well as measurements of phytoplankton concentrations in nearby coastal ocean areas.
NASA to Launch Advanced Laser to Measure Earth’s Changing Ice
Our ICESat-2 mission will use the most advanced laser instrument of its kind to measure – in unprecedented detail – changes in the heights of Earth’s polar ice. The mission’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System, or ATLAS will fire 10,000 times each second – sending hundreds of trillions of photons to the ground in six beams of green light. ATLAS measures the height of objects by timing how long it takes individual light photons to travel from the spacecraft to Earth and back. ICESat-2 is scheduled to launch Sept. 15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
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