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This Week @ NASA, January 28, 2011
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This Week at NASA…


Charles Bolden: "This movie is incredible in that it articulates so effectively through the medium of film."

To help mark NASA’s Day of Remembrance, Administrator Charlie Bolden hosted a special screening of the documentary “An Article of Hope” in the Headquarters auditorium. The hour-long film chronicles the journey of a tiny Torah scroll beginning with its rescue from a German World War II concentration camp by a young Holacaust survivor. The Torah is taken to Israel where, years later, that’s country’s first astronaut, Col. Ilan Ramon, arranges to carry it into space aboard shuttle Columbia on STS-107, Ramon and his six crewmates lost their lives on that ill-fated mission on February 1, 2003.

Daniel Cohen: "I was able to meet Rona Ramon, Ilan’s wife, and she said to me during the meeting that of all the things written about Ilan Roman, this story would have been the story he would have wanted told. It is a powerful story; it is a story of a journey of the human spirit."

The film’s producer, Daniel Cohen, discussed the documentary and its importance with the audience.

Administrator Charles Bolden met with seventh and eighth graders at Richmond, Virginia’s Challenger Learning Center for Space Science Education, stressing to the youngsters why mastering STEM courses -- science, technology, engineering and math is important to their futures.

Charlie Bolden: "There is no question, right now, that the United States is the acknowledged leader in the world in science and technology. However, that leadership is in jeopardy and the only way we can maintain it is for you all to do what you’re doing today."

That message was underscored by other speakers, including U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Bobby Scott.

The students, from Richmond’s Albert Hill Middle School, also participated in a number of solar and molecular science experiments and exploration-related activities…

…including building their own rockets and firing them with compressed air.


President Obama has made STEM education a top priority helping to maintain the nation’s competitive edge in the global marketplace. The Challenger Center event was held on the 25th anniversary of the loss of space shuttle Challenger and her crew of seven.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered what astronomers believe is the most distant object ever seen in the universe. The dim object is a tiny, compact galaxy of blue stars that existed 13.2 billion years ago, roughly 150 million years farther back in time than the previous record holder. The age of the universe is 13.7 billion years.

The tiny galaxy, so small that more than a hundred similarly-sized galaxies would be needed to make up our Milky Way galaxy, was discovered by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, installed in 2009 during the last space shuttle servicing mission to the telescope.

NASA astronaut Ron Garan and his Expedition 27/28 crewmates, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Andrey Borisenko, talked with media about their upcoming mission to the International Space Station.

Ron Garan: "Being up there for almost six month, we will have the opportunity to, eventually, when we get used to living there, when we settle into a routine there, it will become normal for us. We will not be visitors to space; we will be residents of space."

Garan, Samokutyaev and Borisenko will join Expedition 27 NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli and Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev after their launch to the station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 29.

Already at the ISS is the HTV. The unpiloted Japanese cargo ship completed its five-day journey to the station from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan with a smooth grappling by Coleman and Nespoli using the station's robotic arm, Canadarm2. Named "Kounotori," the Japanese word for white stork, the craft carried more than four tons of food and supplies.

What do Optimus Prime and NASA have in common? More than you’d think, according to the developers of the agency-sponsored OPTIMUS PRIME video contest.

Youngsters in grades three through eight created videos, each featuring a favorite agency technology selected from NASA's 2009 Spinoff publication. Each video explores how, like Hasbro’s iconic Transformers toys, that technology can alter or “transform” our lives here on Earth.

Online voting for your favorite student video is open through February 6, at: and click on Optimus Prime.

The winners will be selected by a NASA panel and announced next month.

Forty years ago, on January 31, 1971, Apollo 14 began with its launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell manned NASA’s third mission to land on the moon.

Mission Control: "It looks like you’re about on the bottom step and about on the surface."

"Not bad for an old man."

Shepard and Mitchell spent nearly 33 hours in the Fra Mauro highlands, the same area to have been explored by the aborted Apollo 13 mission. They conducted two lunar EVAs and collected more material and scientific data than Apollo 11 and 12. And famously, Commander Shepard swung the first golf club in space, sending two balls across the lunar frontier.

Alan Shepard: "Miles, miles and miles."

Meanwhile, Roosa remained in lunar orbit in the Command/Service Module, photographing the moon’s surface and conducting experiments, including some involving hundreds of seeds the former U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper brought on the mission. Some of the seeds germinated, resulting in the so-called “Moon Trees.” Their seedlings were planted throughout the United States (often as part of the nation's bicentennial in 1976) and throughout world.

Apollo 14 touched down in the Pacific on February 9, 1971.

And that's This Week @NASA.

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