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April 25, 2014
This Week @ NASA, April 25, 2014

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA

Earth Day 2014

The week began with celebration of the 44th Earth Day -- including live and online activities around the agency and around the globe. An event at Washington’s Union Station featured Hyperwall and Science Gallery exhibits highlighting the agency’s Earth science work. Administrator Charlie Bolden and others also gave public presentations to illustrate the work NASA is doing to understand and protect our home planet. Online, people around the world were encouraged to post a photo of themselves with their local environment as a backdrop -- as part of NASA's global “selfie” to promote environmental awareness. 2014 is the first year in more than a decade that NASA is launching five Earth Science missions into space. Those missions will address critical environment and climate related challenges facing our planet.

Humans to Mars

On Tuesday, at George Washington University in Washington, Administrator Bolden outlined NASA's human exploration path to Mars in his keynote speech at the Humans to Mars Summit 2014. Over the course of the three-day event, Bolden and about two dozen other NASA officials and scientists spoke to an estimated fifteen hundred conference attendees – and others participating online.

Space station spacewalk

International Space Station, Expedition 39 Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson successfully conducted a spacewalk on Wednesday to replace a backup computer relay box on the station’s S-zero truss. The relay box, which failed April 11, is called a multiplexer-demultiplexer, and helps provide data and telemetry needed to command the station’s truss systems and associated hardware.

Two-day rendezvous test

Meanwhile, on Friday an un-piloted Russian Progress cargo ship re-docked to the station’s Zvezda Service Module after completing a two-day test of an upgrade to the automated rendezvous system on the Progress. The rendezvous hardware will be incorporated into Progress cargo craft currently under development.

Science & Engineering Festival

The three-day USA Science and Engineering Festival, at The Walter E. Washington Convention Center in DC featured hands-on activities and presentations by NASA scientists and engineers. On Friday, Administrator Bolden joined Lockheed Martin President and CEO Marillyn Hewson, NASA astronaut Rex Walheim, and members of NASA’s Orion Program to announce Team ARES from the Governor’s School for Science and Technology in Hampton, Virginia as the winning high school team in the Exploration Design Challenge. Team ARES will have their radiation shield design flown on the Orion spacecraft's first flight test, which is targeted for December.

FIRST Robotics championship

Live NASA Television coverage of the 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition Championship got underway on Thursday. Held at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, it is the culminating event of the 2014 season, which kicked off in January. FIRST promotes student science, technology, engineering, math and problem solving skills. The NASA Robotics Alliance Project has supported FIRST Robotics by providing grants to high school teams as well as sponsoring regional competitions.

New Hubble exhibit

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum opened a new exhibit to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the April 24, 1990 launch of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The "Repairing Hubble" exhibit features two Hubble instruments that played crucial roles in the telescope's success over the years. The Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement or COSTAR instrument, installed in 1993, fixed a major flaw in Hubble's primary mirror – and the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, or “Wiff-Pick 2”, recorded razor-sharp images of faraway objects for more than 16 years. Both instruments were brought back to Earth on Hubble's last space shuttle servicing mission in 2009.

New testing partnership

The Monday ribbon-cutting ceremony at Stennis Space Center’s E-2 test stand marked the beginning of a new partnership between NASA and SpaceX. The U.S. aerospace company will test components of its methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine at the facility. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Senator Thad Cochran and Congressman Steven Palazzo participated in the event. The partnership will use NASA’s advanced test facilities to help keep America’s commercial space program moving forward.

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

For more on these and other stories follow us on social media and visit www.nasa.gov/twan.

Page Last Updated: April 25th, 2014
Page Editor: Gary Daines