“Here’s some of the stories trending This Week at NASA!”
Several Mars-based NASA spacecraft had prime viewing positions for comet Siding Spring’s October 19 close flyby of the Red Planet. Early images include this composite photo from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope – it combines shots of Mars, the comet, and a star background to illustrate Siding Spring’s distance from Mars at closest approach, and these images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera represent the highest-resolution views ever acquired of a comet that came from the Oort Cloud, at the outer fringe of the solar system. The comet flyby – only about 87,000 miles from Mars – was much closer than any other known comet flyby of a planet.
On October 23, the fourth and final eclipse of the year – a partial solar eclipse, was widely visible in the U.S. and Canada. The first eclipse of 2015 is scheduled to be a total solar eclipse on March 20, mostly visible in Iceland, Europe and in the northern regions of Africa and Asia.
Outside the International Space Station, Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency conducted an October 22 spacewalk, to remove experiment hardware on the Russian segment of the complex that is no longer needed. The pair also performed a detailed photographic survey of the exterior of the Russian modules.
The space station crew also spent time during the week preparing for the October 25 unberthing and release of the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft. Loaded with more than 3,200 pounds of hardware and critical science experiments, Dragon is scheduled to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja California later the same day.
The launch of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo craft on its Orbital-3 mission to the ISS is scheduled for no earlier than October 27 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Cygnus is loaded with two and a half tons of supplies and experiments for the station’s Expedition 41 crew .
The first ring and barrel segments of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket’s core stage were recently loaded onto the Vertical Assembly Center tool at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility. The VAC is designed to weld together the various segments of the core stage. These are the first confidence welds made by the VAC, which ensures that it works as expected before welding actual flight hardware for the agency’s new deep space exploration rocket.
NASA’s newest astronaut candidates recently visited Glenn Research Center, where they toured several facilities. The group will receive a wide array of technical training at Glenn and other space centers around the globe to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars.
The recent Open House event at Ames Research Center was part of the center’s 75th anniversary celebrations. More than 100 thousand people registered for the event, designed to highlight the world-class space and aeronautics research facilities housed at Ames.
And that’s what’s up this week @NASA …
Page Editor: Gary Daines