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November 15, 2013
This Week @ NASA, November 15, 2013

Removing the barriers to deep space exploration …”

A commercial success for NASA’s U.S. partners …”

And the latest mission to Mars seeks answers about its atmosphere …Those are some of the stories trending, This Week at NASA!”

MAVEN Update

The MAVEN spacecraft – is the latest NASA probe designed to help piece together a complete picture of The Red Planet’s past. MAVEN’s piece of the puzzle – to understand what happened to Mars’ upper atmosphere.

David F. Mitchell, MAVEN Project Manager:
Why did it go from a wetter, Earth-like environment with a thicker atmosphere to where it is today? A much more dry, and thin atmosphere.”

Following its launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station – MAVEN is scheduled to reach Mars in September 2014.

Getting to deep space

Progress being made toward sending humans to deep space destinations was the topic of discussion during a roundtable at Washington’s Newseum – featuring NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier.

Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations:
We’re putting in place hardware and capabilities that will allow us to go do the Mars-class missions.”

And a new panoramic mosaic image released at the event -- and taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gives an idea of what humans might see if they were hanging out near Saturn. The nearly 405-thousand mile sweeping view of the Saturnian system includes its moons and rings, as well as Earth, Venus and Mars in the distance. The image is part of Cassini's recent "Wave at Saturn" campaign.

Commercial success

During a news briefing at NASA headquarters to discuss the success of SpaceX and Orbital Sciences in the agency's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services or COTS program, Administrator Charlie Bolden praised the companies for re-establishing reliable supply services to the ISS, from U.S. soil. October demonstration mission to the space station by Orbital Sciences marked the end of COTS development … the first SpaceX trip to the station was in May 2012 – it completed its part in the COTS program that same year.

Earth science satellite

NASA welcomed members of traditional and social media to Goddard Space Flight Center to learn about the agency's next Earth science satellite, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission. GPM will provide next-generation observations of rain and snow around the world every three hours. Targeted for launch early next year, GPM is a joint effort between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Antarctica campaign

For the first time, NASA's Operation IceBridge is flying an Antarctica research campaign out of the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station, in Antarctica. IceBridge, which collects land and sea ice data, usually flies Antarctica missions out of Punta Arenas, Chile.

Tail wing technology

Ames and Langley Research Centers are working with Boeing on a new technology application for the tail rudder section of a 757 aircraft. The technology features active airflow controls to enhance performance of the vertical tail -- reduce drag and save fuel.

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: November 15th, 2013
Page Editor: Gary Daines