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February 28, 2014
This Week @ NASA, February 28, 2014

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

Global precipitation satellite launches

The Global Precipitation Measurement, or GPM mission’s Core Observatory launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on February 27, Eastern Standard Time. The joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency effort uses the Core Observatory as the anchor of the first coordinated network of international satellites, providing near real-time observations of rain and snowfall around the globe. Data from the Core Observatory will be the measuring stick by which observations from partner satellites are combined into unified data sets, to study climate change, freshwater resources, and natural hazards such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes.

Monitoring California’s drought

NASA and the California Department of Water Resources briefed the media at an event in Sacramento on plans to use the agency’s Earth observing satellites and airborne remote sensing assets to help California better manage water resources and respond to its severe drought. In January, following two straight years of drought conditions, Governor Jerry Brown declared a Drought State of Emergency in California. NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space and shares the data with the global community to better understand and protect our home planet.

Spacewalk mishap report

The mishap investigation board that conducted the independent investigation into the cause of the water leak inside astronaut Luca Parmitano’s helmet during last July’s spacewalk outside the International Space Station, has documented its findings in a formal report. Although the board and the ISS program team uncovered evidence of particulate contamination clogging holes in the spacesuit's fan pump separator, a root cause of the contamination could not be determined. However, the ISS program investigation team will continue to search for the root cause.

Orion test article at Langley

A mock-up of NASA’s Orion spacecraft recently arrived at Langley Research Center in preparation for future testing at the Landing and Impact Research Facility. Testing will give engineers insight into how the capsule performs under a variety of water landing conditions. This Fall, Orion is scheduled to complete its first mission, Exploration Flight Test-1, with a splashdown landing in the Pacific Ocean.

More Kepler planets

Data from NASA’s Kepler mission verifies there are 715 new planets outside our solar system -- nearly doubling the collection of known planets in our galaxy. After studying two years’ worth of data, researchers found that planetary systems with multiple, small planets in flat, circular orbits, like those found in our inner solar system, are common in the Milky Way. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system. Kepler’s total tally of confirmed planets discovered now stands at 961.

Hubble supernova photo

This composite image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is of a supernova explosion in the galaxy, M82. Some 11-point-five million light-years from Earth, the supernova, designated SN 2014J, is the closest of its type discovered in the past 42 years. It was discovered on January 21 of this year and the Hubble photo was taken ten days later as the supernova approached its peak brightness.

And that’s what’s up … This Week at NASA.

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

Page Last Updated: February 28th, 2014
Page Editor: Gary Daines