NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending December 12

NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending December 12
12.12.08
 
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This Week At NASA…

ENDEAVOUR RETURNS TO FLORIDA – DFRC/KSC
Space shuttle Endeavour was ferried back to its home base – the Kennedy Space Center - on the back of a modified 747. The plane is one of two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft maintained by NASA. Endeavour departed the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base 10 days after landing there following the successful completion of STS-126.

MIRROR TESTS - MSFC/GSFC
The first of 18 mirror segments that comprise NASA's James Webb Space Telescope arrived at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The segments will be tested at the center’s X-ray & Cryogenic Facility or (XRCF) to determine how they will hold up in the extreme temperatures of space. The XRCF is the world’s largest X-ray telescope test facility and a unique, cryogenic, clean room optical test facility. Cryogenic testing will take place in a 7,600 cubic foot helium cooled vacuum chamber. The mirror components will be cooled from room temperature to a frigid -414 degrees Fahrenheit. As the temperature decreases, engineers will precisely measure the sections' structural stability to ensure they'll perform as designed once in orbit.

The James Webb Space Telescope is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope destined to be the premier observatory of the next decade. It is expected to launch in 2013.

NEW SPACE IMAGE – JPL
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has a released a new image showing a turbulent star-forming region, called M17, or the Swan nebula, where rivers of gas and stellar winds are eroding thickets of dusty material. The picture shows some of the best examples so far of the ripples of gas, or bow shocks, that can form around stars in choppy cosmic waters.

At the center of the Swan is a group of massive stars, some exceeding 40 times the mass of our sun. The wind and radiation emanating from these stars carve out a deep cavity, part of an ongoing process thought to trigger the birth of new stars. These new observations will help researchers understand how solar systems like our own are able to form and persist in the blustery seas of space.

GLOBAL CONFERENCE – JPL
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory hosted the third annual meeting of the United Nations sanctioned International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems. The committee works to improve the compatibility and universal access of various countries' space-based navigation and positioning systems. These systems improve the efficiency and safety of national and international transportation, search-and-rescue efforts, land management, sustainable development and geodesy, the science of measuring and monitoring the size and shape of the Earth, its gravitational field, and the location of fixed points on the earth’s surface.

With about 200 in attendance, the 4-day event included panel discussions and talks by JPL Director Charles Elachi and the man known as the "father," of the Global Positioning System, Brad Parkinson.

BRAD PARKINSON: "The GPS has had worldwide impact on virtually every aspect of life. It’s sometimes called the stealth utility that has crept up on us. But, what’s happened now is we’re having an addition of other nation’s coming forward with their systems; it’s important those be coordinated. It’s important for the user. It’s important for the developer. And, this is a conference aimed at doing that."

The U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space established the International Committee in December 2005.

ANNIVERSARIES:

Launch Announcer: "3-2-1"

This Week in NASA History
Gemini 6A successfully launched from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 19 on December 15, 1965. Astronauts Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford achieved all of their mission objectives including demonstrating on-time launch procedures, closed-loop rendezvous capabilities, and station keeping techniques with Gemini 7. Other objectives were to evaluate the spacecraft reentry guidance capabilities, and conduct spacecraft systems tests and four experiments. Gemini 6A was the fifth crewed Earth-orbiting spacecraft of the Gemini series.

On December 19, 1999, STS-103, the third Hubble space shuttle servicing mission launched from Pad 39 B at the Kennedy Space Center.

Launch Announcer: "We have booster ignition and lift-off of the space shuttle Discovery."

During the 8 day mission, STS-103 restored the powerful telescope to working order and upgraded some of its systems, allowing the decade-old observatory to begin its second decade of astronomical observations.

And one-hundred-five years ago, December 17, 1903 marked the beginning of it all, when two brothers from Dayton, Ohio made four successful flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Between 1903 and 1905, Orville and Wilbur Wright built a series of powered aircraft which would eventually lead to the first practical airplane. With their achievement, these pioneers opened the door to a century of aviation milestones.

And that's This Week At NASA!

For more about these and other stories, log onto: www.nasa.gov
 
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