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August 22, 2014
This Week @ NASA, August 22, 2014

“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”

Orion’s protective backshell installed

Engineers at Kennedy Space Center have finished installing the Orion spacecraft’s backshell – the black protective tiles on the cone-shaped sides of NASA’s new deep space capsule. The backshell tiles are the same type that protected the underside of space shuttles -- and will not only provide protection from debris while in space but from extreme temperatures in that area of the spacecraft as it returns from space – which could exceed 31-hundred degrees Fahrenheit.

SLS anti-geyser testing

Anti-geyser testing is underway at Marshall Space Flight Center to make sure the liquid oxygen tank feed system of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket doesn’t spring a leak. Geysering can happen if gas bubbles displace the liquid in the system. Engineers are using a full-scale replica of the system, set up on one of Marshall's test stands to test procedures to prevent geysering. The Space Launch System rocket. -- will make deep space missions possible, including to an asteroid and ultimately to Mars.

Webb’s replica backplane

A replica of the James Webb Space Telescope’s backplane or “central backbone” arrived recently at Goddard Space Flight Center, where engineers and scientists will use it to practice the delicate procedure of installing the observatory’s mirrors before the actual backplane arrives. Targeted for launch in 2018, the JWST is the world's next-generation space observatory and successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Arctic Sea ice loss

A new NASA airborne campaign this summer will study the effect of sea ice retreat on Arctic climate. ARISE, The Arctic Radiation IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment is NASA's first airborne investigation designed to take simultaneous measurements of ice, clouds and radiation levels in the Arctic, to help determine the degree of climate warming. Flights are scheduled August 28 through October 1 -- the peak of summer sea ice melt.

Ancient Earth, Alien Earths

During an August 20 event at NASA headquarters, called Ancient Earth, Alien Earths, a panel of scientists from NASA and other organizations discussed how vastly different and inhospitable we all would find ancient Earth, if we could go back in time. Despite the conditions, though, it was an environment in which life began and evolved – and understanding how that was possible could help us recognize habitable planets around other stars.

Space station spacewalk

During a 5- hour, 11-minute spacewalk outside the International Space Station on August 18, Expedition 40 Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency deployed a nanosatellite and completed work on other science hardware and experiments on the Russian segment of the ISS. It was the 181st spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance.

And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …

For more on these and other stories follow us on social media and visit www.nasa.gov/twan.

Page Last Updated: August 25th, 2014
Page Editor: Gary Daines