This Week at NASA | This Week @ NASA: A Spacewalk Outside The International Space Station
A spacewalk outside the space station … Testing a motor critical to the safety of Orion … And some surprising findings about asteroid Bennu … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!
NASA Astronauts Walk in Space outside the Space Station
On March 22, our Anne McClain and Nick Hague conducted a spacewalk outside the International Space Station – the first of three planned spacewalks in the coming weeks to upgrade the station’s power system. The first two excursions will complete the replacement of nickel-hydrogen batteries with new, more powerful lithium-ion batteries. McClain and Christina Koch are scheduled to continue the series with the first all-female spacewalk on March 29. Canada’s David Saint-Jacques will join Hague for another spacewalk on April 8.
Test of Attitude Control Motor for Orion’s Launch Abort System
Engineers conducted a static hot-fire test of the motor on our Orion spacecraft’s Launch Abort System, on March 20 at a Northrop Grumman facility in Elkton, Maryland. The 30-second test was the first in a series of three, aimed at qualifying the motor for human spaceflight. The motor is designed to steer Orion and its crew away to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch.
OSIRIS-REx Reveals Big Surprises About Asteroid Bennu
Our OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which will return a sample of near-Earth asteroid Bennu in 2023, has seen particle plumes erupting from Bennu – the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid’s surface. The spacecraft has also discovered Bennu’s surface is more rugged than expected – challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain. The OSIRIS-REx mission could help us learn more about the origins of our solar system, and improve our understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth.
NASA’s Fermi Mission Clocks a ‘Cannonball’ Pulsar Speeding Through Space
Astronomers have found a pulsar about 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia that is blazing through space at nearly 2.5 million miles an hour — so fast it could travel the distance between Earth and the Moon in just 6 minutes. The pulsar, dubbed PSR J0002, was discovered using our Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array. Pulsars are superdense, rapidly spinning neutron stars left behind when a massive star explodes. This one spins 8.7 times a second, producing a pulse of gamma rays with each rotation.
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