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This Week @ NASA, February 11, 2013
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This Week at NASA…



NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite was successfully launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday. LDCM, a joint NASA and U.S. Geological Survey mission, is the eighth satellite in the Landsat series, which began in 1972. The mission extends the longest continuous data record of Earth's surface as viewed from space – data critical in areas such as energy and water management, forest monitoring, environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery and agriculture.

Also at Vandenberg Air Force Base for Landsat launch activities – NASA followers on Twitter and other social media. The group heard details about the mission from the Landsat science and engineering teams and received behind-the-scenes tours of Vandenberg Air Force Base facilities. A NASA Social is an informal meeting of people who use social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Participants at these events are provided a unique in-person experience by NASA, which they are encouraged to share with others through their favorite social network



An unpiloted Russian resupply ship launched to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:41 a.m. EST on February 11. The Progress cargo craft was loaded with almost three tons of food, fuel, supplies and experiment hardware for the six crew members on the orbiting complex. The new Progress vehicle launched on an accelerated rendezvous to the station, becoming the third consecutive Progress craft to test this fast-track approach of making a trip to the ISS.



It won't be long before an asteroid named 2012 DA-14 makes its extreme flyby of our planet. About half the size of a football field, DA14 should come within 17, 200 miles of Earth on February 15. Although the space rock will pass within the orbit of many of our geosynchronous satellites, scientists in NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office say there's no danger of a collision. Still, they're keeping a close eye on DA14.

Donald K. Yeomans, Manager, NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office
"Even though it's getting very close it won't reach naked eye visibility, but if you have a pair of binoculars and you know where to look – you happen to be located in eastern Europe, Asia or Australia you can observe it going from the South to the North passing closest approach over Indonesia."

Closest approach is estimated for 2:24 p.m. EST Friday. NASA TV's live coverage from the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena begins at 2 p.m. EST. Later that afternoon, NASA TV will carry live views of the asteroid that may be available from observatories around the world as DA14 makes its exit from our galactic neighborhood.



NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has acquired its first images of a comet believed to have quite the bright future. The images of C/2012 S1, better known as comet ISON, were taken over 36 hours in mid-January by Deep Impact's Medium-Resolution Imager from a distance of 493 million miles. Many scientists anticipate that comet ISON will put on a brilliant show this fall when the space-borne conglomeration of dust and ice passes through the inner solar system.



The core satellite of the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, GPM, has successfully completed rigorous testing at the Goddard Space Flight Center. The satellite spent more than two months in a thermal vacuum chamber exposed to extreme heat and cold to simulate the harsh conditions of space.

GPM is an international network of satellites that will provide global data about rain and snowfall every 3 hours. Information collected by GPM, the first satellite designed to measure snowfall from space, will expand our understanding of Earth's water and energy cycles and improve the ability of weather forecasting models to predict extreme storms. The GPM Core satellite is scheduled for launch in early 2014.



More than 50 journalists and social media followers visiting the Dryden Flight Research Center and its Palmdale operations facility learned how a small fleet of highly-specialized aircraft supports NASA's Earth science and environmental mission.

The Airborne Science Showcase highlighted the specially-modified aircrafts' cutting-edge instrumentation used by numerous NASA missions to monitor and collect crucial data about our home planet.

Ken Jucks, Upper Atmosphere Research Program Manager
"With what we do in the Airborne Science Program – really is enmeshed and critical with what we do with our space missions as well. We're NASA, we launch rockets. But primarily from the Science Directorate at NASA and Earth Science in particular, our main goal is to try to advance our understanding of the science itself."

Among the NASA missions highlighted were DISCOVER-AQ currently measuring air quality over California's San Joaquin Valley; the PODEX mission evaluating instrumentation for a future satellite; and the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment, a multi-year investigation of how the chemistry of the upper regions of Earth's atmosphere is contributing to climate change.

Dryden's facilities are joined by the Johnson Space Center, the Wallops Flight Facility, and the Langley Research Center in serving as home to these unique and valuable craft.



This suborbital rocket successfully launched from the Wallops Flight Facility is helping scientists determine how best to create lithium vapor trails for studying phenomena in the ionosphere.

The two red-colored lithium vapor trails produced by the flight posed no threat to the public and were reportedly seen from as far away as the Outer Banks, North Carolina, eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Lithium trails will be used in two missions this year. The first is scheduled for April from Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean; the second is set for June at Wallops.



NASA astronaut Ron Garan was a keynote speaker at the Susan G. Komen Global Women's Cancer Summit in Washington. A veteran of two spaceflights, most recently on Expedition 27/28 aboard the International Space Station, Garan now works on NASA's Open Government Initiative to develop innovative collaborations between government, industry and citizens around the world to benefit all humankind.

Ron Garan, NASA Astronaut
"If we can land on the moon and return to Earth safely, if nations can join together and build an enormous, incredibly capable research facility in orbit, we can by working together solve the problems that we all face, including the elimination of cancer."

NASA AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH PROFILE – Clayton Turner, Chief Engineer, Langley Research Center

Clayton Turner, Chief Engineer, Langley Research Center

My name is Clayton Turner. I'm Chief Engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. I am responsible for the engineering excellence of all of our projects and activities here at the center and also for promoting the disciplines across the engineering directorate. So diversity for me is bringing in fresh thought and ideas. The more fresh thought from different perspectives you can bring to a problem, the more solutions you can have to that problem. We have many challenges across the Nation and those are best solved with a diverse set of thought. If we get stuck in one mind set or one set of backgrounds to solve a problem, we may try to do the same solutions over and over, and a new set of ideas may come in for something we've never thought of before. Here at NASA we see that a lot because we do some of the really challenging things; we take on some of the most challenging problems, and the solutions aren't going to be something you can find in a book; they aren't going to be something you can find with two or three really smart people getting together and working through it. You need a diverse team that are bringing in ideas from engineering, business development, education, science, from across a background. In my current job as Chief Engineer, I'm not a supervisor for anyone. All of my work and everything I get done is through influence, and part of that influence is understanding what the various parties want to do and trying to find a consensus or trying to find a technical agreement that still may have a dissent, but something that we can agree - this is the right technical way to go.



NASA's Associate Administrator for Science, John Grunsfeld, donned his astronaut flight jacket for a luncheon in his honor at the National Geographic Society in Washington. The five-time shuttle astronaut returned a National Geographic Society flag he'd brought with him on STS-125, NASA's final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. John Grunsfeld, NASA Associate Administrator for Science
"As I would go on my expeditions around the world to climb high mountains I would take a flag with me, I thought, 'wouldn't it be appropriate – this the last Hubble Servicing Mission – going to the world's greatest telescope, to bring a flag of National Geographic's that inspired me."

Grunsfeld, who earned the nickname, "Hubble Repairman" for flying three Hubble servicing missions, is the last human to touch the telescope. National Geographic, one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world, presented Grunsfeld with an engraved copy of "Hubble: Imaging Space and Time," a Society-published book for which he'd written the forward.



"3-2-1 ignition and liftoff Discovery now on its way to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope."

On February 11, 1997, Space Shuttle Discovery lit up the pre-dawn sky at the Kennedy Space Center to begin STS-82, the second planned servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the almost 10-day mission, Discovery's crew upgraded Hubble with new imaging devices – including the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, or STIS – an instrument designed to seek out super-massive black holes, and NICMOS and The Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer, which astronomers would use to capture near-infrared views of the universe.



Additional Day of Remembrance tributes to those members of the NASA family who've given their lives for exploration and discovery.

Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa, astronauts and other NASA employees joined the Sabine County Columbia Memorial Committee and the Patricia Huffman Smith NASA Museum in Hemphill, Texas, on February first for a tribute to STS-107. Ten years ago to the day, the mission's seven astronauts died when space shuttle Columbia broke apart over East Texas 16 minutes before its scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space Center. Local citizens and personnel from more than 120 federal, state and regional agencies and organizations worked together under challenging conditions for three months to recover Columbia debris and evidence that led to the cause of the accident.

And, following a public ceremony at the Ames Research Center in honor of the Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia crews, an exhibit was unveiled in tribute to STS-107 Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla. Chawla worked at Ames for six years before joining NASA's astronaut corps. Donated to NASA by her family, the exhibit contains personal belongings, awards and other items from her time in Mountain View.

Donald James Director of Strategic Communications, NASA Ames
"We have items that she used and she wore, including her Congressional Medal of Honor that was given to her. And now we have to remind us, and the future generations, the sacrifice that she made. This is really a true treasure for us to have here at Ames Research Center."

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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