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Transcript: This Week at NASA, January 7 - 13
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President Bush SOT: "It is time for America to take the next steps."

Two years ago this week, President Bush unveiled the Vision for Space Exploration in a historic speech at NASA Headquarters. Since then, NASA has made great strides in implementing the Vision. Among them, the space shuttle Discovery's successful Return to Flight;

Launch Announcer: "… And lift off of Space Shuttle Discovery and the vehicle has cleared the tower."

…the breathtaking and continuing discoveries by the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity; and, the unveiling of NASA's next generation of space vehicle, which will bring crew and supplies to not only the International Space Station, but also to the moon, and on to Mars and beyond.


NASA researchers presented their findings at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington DC. Featured was a public policy address by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.

Michael Griffin SOT: "… Our scientific initiatives go hand-in-hand with our extended reach into the solar system encompassing questions as practical as earth's evolving climate and as enticing as those regarding the history of surface water on Mars and, as profound as the origin and nature of the universe."

Established in1899, the AAS is an organization of professional astronomers in North America whose primary mission is to promote the advancement of astronomy and closely related branches of science.


Scientists updated media on the progress of NASA's Stardust return capsule as it made its way towards its scheduled early Sunday morning landing at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

Don Brownlee SOT: "In a very real sense, where Stardust really went was to the every edge of the solar system out by Pluto and 4 and ½ billion years ago."

Stardust completes a 2.88 billion mile round-trip odyssey to capture and return cometary and interstellar dust particles to Earth, re-entering the atmosphere at approximately 28,860 mph, a record speed for human-made objects, then parachuting safely home.


NASA's first spacecraft to distant Pluto and its moon Charon is scheduled to launch Tuesday, January 17th. New Horizons will complete the initial reconnaissance of the planets around our Sun. Scientists say exploring Pluto is like an archaeological dig into the origins of the outer solar system.


For the first time the close companion to the North Star Polaris has come out of the shadows and into the light. With the help of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have finally captured images of this small dwarf star. Thought to be a steady, solitary light for centuries, the North Star is actually a triple star system. While one of Polaris’s companion stars is easily visible, the other hugs it so closely that, until now, it was impossible to view. Polaris is a super-giant, more than two thousand times brighter than the sun. Researchers plan to continue observing the Polaris system for several years.


Astronomers are surprised by the far-reaching explosive activity of giant central “black holes” in elliptical galaxies. According to a new study of images made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, black holes are creating havoc in unsuspected places. Black holes are areas where the gravitational pull inside a certain radius is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it. They're formed during a star supernova under gravitational collapse.


The Orion Nebula is a busy neighborhood of young stars, hot gas and dark dust. The Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team captured more than 3,000 images of these stars in various sizes and masses. Astronomers see the entire history of star formation printed on the features of the Orion Nebula. It's the closest star formation region to the Earth.


The Expedition 13 crew, the next residents of the International Space Station, discussed their mission during a news conference at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

JEFF WILLIAMS SOT: "...We look forward to the work on board, continuing to keep the space station in good shape, continuing to do a limited amount of research and science until the next shuttle arrives."

In March, Expedition 13 Commander, Pavel Vinogradov, NASA Flight Engineer, Jeff Williams and Brazilian astronaut, Marcos Pontes will launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Vinogradov and Williams are scheduled to spend six-months on the station, while Pontes will return to earth after eight days conducting research.


Expedition 12 Commander and NASA Science Officer Bill McArthur discussed life and work aboard the International Space Station in an educational event with students at the Hiroshima Kokutaiji Senior High School in Hiroshima, Japan.

Bill McArthur SOT: "…What you can see is that the water really wants to sticks to itself and it really takes a bit of energy to get it to stick to another object. That property of water or, of any liquid, is called surface tension. It's not a very strong force and on earth gravity is much stronger. But, here in space, since there is no gravity, the surface tension tends to dominate."

The event, sponsored by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), was broadcast throughout Japan as McArthur and crewmate Valery Tokarev sailed into the 100th day of their six-month mission aboard the Space Station.


NASA co-sponsored a kick-off event for the First Robotics Competition. The program was held in Manchester, New Hampshire and aired on NASA TV. First Robotics is an exciting, multinational competition that teams young professionals and students to solve common engineering problems. Each team has six weeks to build a robot from a standard "kit of parts" according to an established set of rules. The robots are then entered in a series of competitions designed by a committee of engineers and other professionals.


January marks the 40th anniversary of the use of crawler transporters in advancing space flight. The Crawler-Transporters at NASA's Kennedy Space Center are the largest tracked vehicles in existence. Their present function is to move the space shuttles, complete with launch platforms, from the Vehicle Assembly Building to the Launch Pad. The Crawler first came into use during the Apollo era. In January 1966, the crawler completed its first successful move with a 10.6-million-pound launch umbilical tower, traveling three-quarters of a mile in about nine hours. Throughout 40 years of service, the two crawlers have moved more than 3,500 miles and carried seven different vehicles.

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