NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending June 29

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending June 29
06.29.07
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This Week at NASA …

The Mars Exploration Rover team will drive Opportunity into Victoria Crater to examine the composition and textures of rocks there. Scientists hope to uncover more clues about Mars' ancient and wet environments. The half-mile wide crater is about four miles from where Opportunity landed in January 2004.

This may be the final mission for Opportunity, which has worked more than 12 times longer than originally planned. Opportunity's twin rover, Spirit, lost the use of one of its six wheels more than a year ago. Should Opportunity develop a similar problem, climbing out of Victoria Crater could prove difficult.

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NASA’s Phoenix spacecraft is being processed at the Kennedy Space Center for a 90-day mission to Mars scheduled for August. Phoenix will explore the northern plains of Mars to determine if that environment could have supported life in the past or in geologically recent times.

The spacecraft will carry some of the most advanced technology ever sent to the Red Planet. Phoenix will carry eight "ovens" in a "portable laboratory." Martian samples collected by its robotic arm will be heated to release volatiles that can be examined for their chemical composition. Scientists will look for the building blocks of life that include carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur.

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Ames Research Center hosted a Small Spacecraft Industry Day. NASA seeks to develop technologies that'll reduce the cost and lead time for civil and commercial space missions. Companies attending the Small Spacecraft Industry Day were shown how they can leverage NASA's resources to design and develop a better small satellite.

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The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy – the SOFIA flying laboratory made its official debut at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

Erik Lindbergh: "Clipper Lindbergh."

Over the next three years, extensive modifications to the aircraft will be completed. The largest involves cutting a sizeable hole in the rear fuselage for installation of a 45-thousand pound infrared telescope and a special door that will protect it. The SOFIA project is a joint venture of NASA and the DLR, the German Aerospace Center.

When operational, SOFIA will be capable of "Great Observatory" class astronomical science. During its projected 20-year lifespan, SOFIA is expected to provide astronomers with infrared images unavailable to earthbound telescopes.

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NASA's unmanned Predator B "Ikhana" has joined the ranks of research aircraft at the Dryden Flight Research Center. Designed for long-endurance and high-altitude flight, Ikhana will be used primarily on Earth science missions. It will also help develop new technologies and capabilities for unpiloted aircraft systems. Ikhana is a Native American Choctaw word meaning "intelligence."

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47 years ago, on July 1, 1960, the Marshall Space Flight Center officially opened its doors in Huntsville, Alabama. As one of NASA’s largest and most diversified installations, Marshall contributed to the development of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launch vehicles, and the shuttle transportation system.

Today, the Center manages key propulsion hardware and technologies for the space shuttle, oversees science and hardware development for the International Space Station, and is developing the Ares crew exploration and cargo launch vehicles that will be used to take astronauts back to the moon.

And that's This Week At NASA.
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