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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, February 17
02.17.09
 
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This Week At NASA…

SHUTTLE UPDATE – KSC
Technicians at the Kennedy Space Center continue pre-launch preparations on space shuttle Discovery. STS-119 is slated to begin no earlier than February 27 with an early morning liftoff. Commander Lee Archambault’s crew will help finish construction of the International Space Station’s structural backbone. Among the 119 crew is Mission Specialist John Phillips, who’ll make his first return to the ISS since spending six months there in 2005 as a member of the Expedition 11 crew.

John Phillips: "The station is way bigger. It’s much more capable and to me it’ll be very exciting. It’ll be like visiting a new place in a way and yet, at the same time, there’ll be some places that are very old and comforting to me, that I’ve seen before."

SGR J1550-5418 - GSFC
Astronomers using NASA's Swift satellite and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope are seeing frequent blasts from a rare, spinning neutron star 30,000 light-years away. SGR J1550-5418, as it’s officially catalogued, is actually the superdense, city-sized, remains of an exploded star called a soft-gamma-ray repeater. Over the past two years, astronomers have tracked it randomly emitting a series of X-ray and gamma-ray flares. This repeater, only the sixth known to exist, lies in the southern constellation, Norma; it should help scientists understand how energy is unleashed by a neutron star’s intense magnetic field, or magnetar.

MODIS TRACKS AUSTRALIA BUSHFIRES - GSFC
NASA’s, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer located on the Aqua satellite captured this image of the deadly bushfires in Southeast Australia. Aqua sensors use visible, near-infrared and shortwave infrared light, applying false color to better illustrate affected areas. Active fires are outlined in red; burned areas are brick red; and places of intense heat glow pink. The smoke, drifting as far east as New Zealand, is a transparent blue. The deadly fires have been called the worst disaster of its kind in Australia’s history.

MATH/SCIENCE ODYSSEY – DFRC

Bob Meyer: "I would encourage you to think today about what you’re really passionate about and what you’re really good at. In other words, what kind of things can you not wait to do when you get spare time?"

About 250 eighth grade students participated in hands-on science and engineering during the Bohn-Meyer Math and Science Odyssey at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, California. Under the theme “Soaring to New Heights,” students explored controlled flight with a self-designed glider, and spoke by radio with a NASA pilot and flight test engineer in an F-18.

Student: "NASA 852 this is NASA Odyssey."

Pilot: "I hear you 852, go ahead."

Student: "What does Best Glide Speed mean?"

Pilot: "Best Glide Speed, that’s when you optimize lift against your drag and it’s when you can go the furthest."

They also participated in workshops highlighting engineering, meteorology, physics, chemistry and mathematics.

(sound of sparkler, oohs and ahs)

Named for the late Marta Bohn-Meyer, former pilot and chief engineer at the Dryden Flight Research Center, the annual event promotes study and career interest in math, science and technology.

VIRTUAL MARS - HQ
NASA and Google Earth are now bringing to everyone’s desktop high-resolution, three-dimensional views of Mars. With the advent of a new Mars mode in Google Earth, users can now travel the surface of the Red Planet, flying through enormous, ancient canyons, or viewing Martian dust devils first hand. They can also see the latest satellite imagery from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and learn about its latest discoveries.

ANNIVERSARY: Shuttle Enterprise 1st Flight Test, Feb. 18, 1977 – HQ
It’s been 32 years since NASA’s first shuttle orbiter, Enterprise, made its first flight – an approach and landing test at the Dryden Flight Research Facility. Originally to be named ‘Constitution’ in honor of America’s Bicentennial, the shuttle prototype was christened ‘Enterprise,’ after the ‘Star Trek’ starship, following a massive write-in campaign by fans of the popular TV program. From 1977 through 1979, Enterprise was put through twelve more tests – at Dryden, the Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Kennedy Space Center. As a prototype, Enterprise was never meant to fly in space. But some of its parts were refurbished and used on the five orbiters that did. In 1985, Enterprise became the property of the Smithsonian Institution; it’s currently on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly Virginia.

And that's This Week At NASA!

For more on these and other stories log on to: www.nasa.gov
 
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