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September 12, 2014
This Week @ NASA, September 12, 2014

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

Rocket welding tool ready

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, other NASA officials and representatives from The Boeing Company participated in a September 12 ribbon cutting for the new 170-foot-high Vertical Assembly Center at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The Vertical Assembly Center is a new tool that will be used to assemble parts of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket that will send humans to an asteroid and Mars. The administrator also visited Stennis Space Center in nearby Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, where engineers plan to test the RS-25 engines that will power the core stage of SLS.

Orion moved for fueling

NASA's first Orion spacecraft was on the move at Kennedy Space Center. As part of preparations for its un-crewed flight test in December, NASA’s new deep space capsule was transported from Kennedy's Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility for fueling. NASA managers were on hand to discuss Orion’s progress with members of the media. The spacecraft will be moved to another facility before the flight -- for installation of its launch abort system.

Curiosity to climb Martian mountain

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover has reached and will start climbing Mount Sharp, the layered mountain in Gale Crater that has been the mission's long-term destination on the Red Planet. The rover will start examining the mountain's lower slopes near an outcrop called "Pahrump Hills," using its drill to take samples for analysis. Mount Sharp offers a series of geological layers that represent different chapters in the environmental evolution of early Mars.

Geological activity on Europa?

Researchers studying images of Jupiter’s moon Europa, taken in the early 2000s by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, have found evidence of plate tectonics -- the first sign of this type of surface-shifting geological activity on a world other than Earth. Plate tectonics is the scientific theory that Earth's outer layer is made up of plates that move, which accounts for the formation of mountains and volcanoes and why earthquakes happen.

Expedition 40 returns

International Space Station Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson of NASA and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency wrapped up a 169-day space mission with a safe landing in Kazakhstan – September 10 Eastern Time. Meanwhile, pre-flight training continues for Expedition 41/42 – the next crew headed to the ISS. NASA’s Butch Wilmore and Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of the Russian Federal Space Agency will complete final training at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They are scheduled to launch to the station September 25, Eastern time.

Earth Science on ISS

Discussion during a September 8 media briefing at NASA headquarters focused on the International Space Station’s role in a new era of exploration of our home planet. ISS-RapidScat, the first in a series of Earth-observing instruments that will be mounted on the space station’s exterior, will be delivered on the next SpaceX cargo mission and then conduct climate and weather studies. It will be followed by CATS, the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System, on a subsequent SpaceX delivery.

Hurricane-hunting aircraft

With the Atlantic Ocean’s hurricane season approaching its peak, members of the media were invited to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia to learn more about NASA’s Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3 mission -- which uses two remotely piloted Global Hawk aircraft to investigate Atlantic hurricanes. The aircraft are capable of flying as high as 55,000 feet and can stay airborne for about 30 hours. This is the third and final year of the HS3 mission.

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: September 12th, 2014
Page Editor: Gary Daines