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This Week @ NASA, February 18, 2011
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This Week at NASA…

Administrator Charles Bolden and Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson rolled out the budget President Obama has proposed for NASA in Fiscal Year 2012. Bolden told media at a Washington news conference that, despite austere times, the proposed budget will allow NASA to continue to innovate, educate and build for the good of, not only the agency, but also the nation.

Charles Bolden: "This budget requires us to live within our means so we can invest in our future. It maintains our strong commitment to human spaceflight and new technologies. It establishes critical priorities and invests in excellent science, aeronautics research, and education programs that will help us win the future."

Bolden also noted that this focus on technological advancement will allow NASA to expand its human exploration of space in the decades ahead.

Charles Bolden: "The President's fiscal year 2012 budget funds a diverse array of human spaceflight programs that maximize our use of current capabilities such as the International Space Station, facilitate innovative approaches to ensure U.S. leadership in low Earth orbit, and position us to explore new frontiers of deep space. Taken together, these human spaceflight initiatives will enable American to retain its position as a leader in space exploration for generations to come."

Expedition 26 Flight Engineers Dmitry Kondratyev and Oleg Skripochka performed their second spacewalk in less than a month. They ventured outside the International Space Station to install a pair of earthquake and lightning sensing experiments. They also retrieved a pair of exposed panels that’ll help international researchers determine the best materials to use in building long-duration spacecraft. Retrieving a similar materials exposure package was among the tasks the two cosmonauts performed during their previous spacewalk on Jan. 21.

After its successful launch of its an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, the Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer Vehicle-2, or ATV2, is on its way to the International Space Station. The unpiloted European cargo ship will deliver some seven tons of fuel, food and supplies to the orbiting complex. Eight days after launch, the ATV2 is scheduled to rendezvous and dock to the aft port of the station's Zvezda service module. It’ll remain there until June, when it’ll undock and deorbit, then burn up upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.


“We have 122 images; we’ve collected all 72 science images.” (applause)

The Stardust-NExT mission had its Valentine’s Day “date with a comet” when it flew by comet Tempel 1 on February 14. At its nearest approach, the spacecraft got within 112 miles of the comet – and sent back about six-dozen, high-resolution images. Scientists had hoped to see any differences in the comet since a probe from NASA’s Deep Impact mission crashed into its surface on the Fourth of July in 2005.

Joe Veverka: "If you ask me was this mission a 100% successful, in terms of the science, I would have to say no. It was 1000% successful."

Each one of the 72 images taken by Stardust-NExT took about 15 minutes to download; in all, about ten hours were needed to transmit all the pictures and science data from the spacecraft. In the six years since Deep Impact, Tempel 1 has completed one orbit of the sun.


A group of fifty-five science and space enthusiasts who follow the NASA Ames twitter account were invited to NASA Ames Research Center to participate in an event called a “Tweet-up.”

These tweeps, or people who use twitter, were given a rare opportunity to tour the labs at NASA Ames, listen to presentations and get answers to their questions from researchers who work at the Center.

Pete Worden: "Social networking is really critical. As we move forward as a country, this is an increasing way that the public, particularly the interested public, can actually participate and ride with us as we do the wonderful things we do at NASA."

Throughout the day, the participants were busy taking pictures and tweeting about their experiences 140 characters or about 20 words at a time.

Natalie Greco: "I think NASA's involvement in social media and Twitter is awesome. I think it's a really great way to get the word out to the public about what's going on with NASA and kind of giving everyone an insider view of exactly what's happening."

Researchers shared their latest discoveries and demonstrated some of the unique facilities at NASA Ames during the Tweetup event. The attendees came from 18 states and 5 countries to take part in the Tweetup.

One in particular had a class of his students back in Nashville, Tennessee following his tweets throughout the day.

Don Breedwell: "My students are learning how to use social media in the class. So one of the things we've been doing is Twittering, Facebooking, doing all the different kinds of things… I've had a wonderful time here and we'll use this information that I've learned here to help with science programs that we have in our high school and in our county."

Given the enthusiastic response online and at Ames, this will likely be the first of many more Tweetup events to come.

More than 200 seventh-graders had some hands-on fun during the 2011 Bohn-Meyer Math and Science Odyssey at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, California. Students attended workshops led by professionals from the Dryden Flight Research Center and industry in the fields of engineering, meteorology, physics, chemistry and mathematics.

The event is named for the late Marta Bohn-Meyer, former chief engineer at Dryden. Her husband, Bob Meyer, NASA's program manager for the SOFIA flying observatory, told pupils from eight area middle schools to focus on math and science classes and explained how concentrating on these subjects could lead to rewarding careers in engineering and technology.

Bob Meyer: "…You have a real opportunity today. Take advantage of it. Walk around, learn, talk to people that are here today that have gone down the path before you. You’ve probably heard the saying, “when opportunity knocks, open the door.” Well, Marta liked to modify that a bit and said, “When opportunity knocks, open the door… but don’t forget to walk through it." Aim high, as your attitude in life will determine the altitude you’ll achieve, just like in aviation."

The event included three workshops on engineering and science, medical technology and "green" technologies, as well as hands-on activities and aircraft life-support equipment demonstrations.

A low-level flyover by a NASA F/A-18 Hornet helped wrap up the day's activities.

Thirty-four years ago, on February 18, 1977, NASA’s first space shuttle orbiter, Enterprise, conducted its first flight test at the Dryden Flight Research Center. Constructed without an engine, the craft was mounted atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to measure structural loads, ground handling and other capabilities prior to atmospheric flight. While Enterprise never flew in space, its series of approach and landing tests that year proved the orbiter could fly in the atmosphere and land like a glider. Enterprise was named for the starship on the popular television series of that time “Star Trek.” Today, you can see Enterprise in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

And that's This Week at NASA!

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