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Marny Skora
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
(757) 864-3315/344-6111
 
01.04.06
 
MEDIA ADVISORY : 06-001
 
 
NASA Langley Forecast
 
 

Comet Dust Samples Headed Our Way, Counting Down to Cloud Studies Launch, Testing 'Flying Wing,' Examining Materials for Space, Airline Weather Sensor Results

'STARDUST' ON TARGET TO RETURN WITH COMET SAMPLES
In the predawn hours of Jan. 15, a seven-year journey to collect the first-ever cometary dust samples will come to a dramatic end as the Stardust return capsule will hurtle through Earth's atmosphere and parachute to a soft landing on a Utah desert. The spacecraft successfully intersected with the comet Wild-2 in early 2004 and survived an unexpectedly vigorous sandblasting from the cometary particles it was collecting. The Stardust spacecraft will land using a parachute at the U. S. Air Force’s Utah Test and Training Range. NASA Langley researchers have worked to help ensure that the Stardust return capsule will be in the target zone for its much-anticipated atmospheric entry shortly before 5 a.m. EST, Jan. 15. The Stardust sample return mission is led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
For more information, contact Keith Henry at 757-864-6120 or h.k.henry@nasa.gov

CALIPSO SATELLITE READIES FOR LAUNCH
The CALIPSO satellite (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations) is preparing for an early 2006 launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The mission is expected to give the international science community a better understanding of clouds and atmospheric aerosols that influence Earth's climate and air quality. As a part of the NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder program, the satellite is a collaborative effort with the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES). NASA Langley's CALIPSO experiment will be launched into an orbit where it will fly seconds apart from other members of NASA's "A-Train," a constellation of several Earth observing satellites.
For more information, contact Chris Rink at 757-864-6786 or Christopher.P.Rink@nasa.gov

NASA WORKS TO HELP DESIGN "FLYING WING" TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT
NASA is working with industry to change the shape of airplanes. Engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., are scheduled to test an 8.5 percent scale model of a blended wing body - an advanced, more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly airplane concept - in the Langley Full-Scale Tunnel this winter and in free flight at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., this summer. The model, which is called the X-48B and looks like a flying wing, was built by Boeing Phantom Works, Long Beach, Calif., and Cranfield Aerospace, Cranfield, Bedford, UK. Researchers say a blended wing body could be useful as a multi-role aircraft for the military, including functioning as a tanker or cargo or transport plane.
For information, contact Kathy Barnstorff at 757-864-9886 or kathy.barnstorff@nasa.gov

NASA CONFERENCE HOSTS JAIME ESCALANTE FEB. 16-18
Future science and math teachers will get some valuable and true-to-life advice from one of America’s finest and most recognized teachers, Jaime Escalante, at a NASA Pre-Service Teacher Conference Feb. 16-18. Escalante, 1999 National Teachers’ Hall of Fame inductee, will open the 11th annual Pre-Service Teacher Conference at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, Alexandria, Va. More than 500 students and faculty from over 55 schools will be in attendance, representing 35 states across the country. Other special guest speakers include Iris Marie Mack, a former MIT professor, former Enron Energy Trader and a 1989 astronaut semifinalist; and Alfred “Coach” Powell, award-winning public speaker and lead facilitator of the Visionary Leaders Institute.
For information, contact Lindsay Crouch at 757-864-3189 or l.m.crouch@larc.nasa.gov

MISSE SAMPLES REVEAL RESULTS FROM STAY IN SPACE
NASA and its partners are preparing to reveal the results from the first two Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) suitcases, returned to NASA Langley Research Center for their grand opening in October 2005. Dozens of principal investigators from each of the partnering NASA centers, U.S. Air Force research organizations and the U.S. aerospace industry have been studying the material samples to determine which materials will perform best in space. Research from MISSE will provide the insight needed to develop materials for future spacecraft and will also help researchers make materials and coatings that will last longer on Earth. Results will be released early this year.
For information, contact Lindsay Crouch at 757-864-3189 or l.m.crouch@larc.nasa.gov

YOUR NEXT FLIGHT COULD HELP IMPROVE WEATHER FORECASTS
NASA is working to bring better weather information to pilots and forecasters with the help of airborne sensors installed on a fleet of commuter airliners. A team, led by researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., designed, built and equipped dozens of Mesaba Airlines aircraft with the Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Report (TAMDAR) instrument. The TAMDAR sensor allows aircraft flying at altitudes below 25,000 feet to automatically sense and report atmospheric conditions. The sensors have been airborne as part of a comprehensive study for almost a year. Researchers will report on their performance at the American Meteorological Society meeting in Atlanta, February 2.
For information, contact Kathy Barnstorff at 757-864-9886 or kathy.barnstorff@nasa.gov

SPEAKER SERIES:
Reporters are invited to preview talks at afternoon presentations to employees at NASA Langley. The public is invited to evening talks at the Virginia Air & Space Center, Hampton. For information, call Marny Skora at 757/864-6121 or email marny.skora@nasa.gov.

Jan. 5 -- X-Prize Flights: SpaceShipOne, by Douglas Shane
Feb. 2 -- Russian Space Technology, by Jim Oberg
March 2 -- Crew Launch Vehicle Development, by Stephen Cook
April 6 -- Hurricanes on a Warming Earth, by Judith Curry

 

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