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This Week @ NASA, March 22, 2013
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This Week at NASA…



The next three humans in space are now at their launch site in Kazakhstan after finishing their final training and prelaunch activities outside Moscow. NASA Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy, and Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency are scheduled to liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome this Thursday, Mar. 28, U.S. time, and head for the International Space Station on Expedition 35/36.

Chris Cassidy, NASA Astronaut:
“We all really love what we do, to fly in space and it’s a really special opportunity that we get to have as individuals and we wish we could share the whole great experience with everybody that loves space like we do.”

There, they’ll join Station Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency and Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn of NASA and Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency. Some 150 scientific and research experiments are being conducted in the world’s only laboratory in microgravity to benefit our lives here on Earth.


@AsteroidWatch, @MeteorScientist

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“This is not an American issue. Anything that we do protects the planet.”

Administrator Charles Bolden told a House hearing on Capitol Hill that NASA is working to better identify and track meteors and asteroids that pose a potential threat to Earth. Appearing with Bolden were White House Science Advisor John Holdren and General William Shelton, Commander of the U.S. Air Force Space Command.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“Consistent with NASA’s role, as established by Congress and prescribed in the President’s National Space Policy, NASA has taken a leadership role to pursue capabilities to detect, track and characterize Near Earth Objects to reduce the risks of harm to humans from an unexpected impact on our planet.”

The hearing comes following the passage of Earth by several Asteroids – the closest, Asteroid 2012 DA14 -- passed just 17-thousand miles from our planet on February 15. It was preceded that same day by the surprise explosion of a meteor over Russia.



NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver was among the honored guests of the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC as representatives of Italy and the United States signed an agreement extending the two nation’s 50 years of cooperation in space.

Garver spoke about the many Italian Space Agency contributions to NASA missions, including Cassini and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer aboard the International Space Station. Throughout the 50-year partnership, NASA has signed nearly 200 agreements with various space and aeronautics organizations in Italy.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator:
“But I guess it shouldn’t be at all surprising that the people that brought us the renaissance are also bringing us these remarkable discoveries in space. Fifty years of exploring space with you has brought us a tremendous amount, but we really continue to look forward to that next renaissance in space exploration.”

Garver also highlighted the contributions of Italy’s five flown astronauts, as well as Samantha Cristoforetti, scheduled to become the first Italian woman astronaut, on Expedition 42/43.



Luca Parmitano, Expedition 36/37 Flight Engineer:
“So at any time on the space station we have between 130 and 150 experiments running.”

Astronaut Luca Parmitano is slated to be the sixth Italian in space when he, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency launch to the International Space Station later this spring. The three members of the Expedition 36/37 crew were at the Johnson Space Center to preview their mission and its focus on scientific research aboard the space station.

Karen Nyberg, Expedition 36/37 Flight Engineer:
“We’ve seen a lot of astronauts come back with blurred eyesight. They’re doing a study now to really look deep into that – and so, I volunteered to get into that because I think that’s very important especially as we start traveling further out.”

The trio is scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan on May 28. When they arrive at the station, Nyberg, Parmitano and Yurchikhin will join NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexsandr Misurkin onboard the world’s only laboratory in microgravity.



Meanwhile, NASA Astronaut Suni Williams and Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, both of whom spent 125 days aboard the station on Expedition 32/33, made several appearances in the National Capitol region to share their extraordinary spaceflight experiences. During a visit to Goddard Space Flight Center, the pair met with Center Director Chris Scolese and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski. They also delighted Goddard employees with mission highlights and a question-and-answer session.

Sunita Williams, NASA Astronaut:
“This is not just about us and our vacation. It’s about the future astronauts and space explorers and the future of human kind exploring. And I think Goddard is a huge part of that and so for that matter we’d just like to say thank you to you too for giving us that opportunity and letting us share it with you.”

The duo also visited the Goddard Child Development Center, where they chatted with the youngsters about their jobs and the fun they’ve had in space.

Suni on ISS:
“Alright, come on back. There’s more to show you.”

The weeklong visit also included a Women in Aerospace event on Capitol Hill celebrating Women’s History Month. Williams was the featured speaker at the gathering. Also speaking to members of Congress, WIA Board Members, college students in area STEM programs and others in attendance was Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. Williams and Hoshide capped off their visit with a Google Plus Hangout at NASA Headquarters.



Julie Robinson:
“We’ve got this unique environment that kids see as something they’d like to do when they grow up.”

Also at Headquarters, space station Program Scientist Julie Robinson was among the featured speakers at an all-day workshop at which members of the NASA family learned more about the ISS, how it enables exploration and improves life on Earth and how to share that knowledge with others.

Like it has previously at NASA centers, “ISS Research 101” highlighted significant accomplishments of the orbiting laboratory and the benefits of research and technology development underway on the ISS.



The Planck space mission has released the most accurate and detailed map ever made of the oldest light in the universe, revealing new information about its age, contents and origins. The results suggest the universe is expanding more slowly than scientists thought, and is 13.8 billion years old, 100 million years older than previous estimates. The data also show there is less dark energy and more matter, both normal and dark matter, in the universe than previously known. Dark matter is an invisible substance that only can be seen through the effects of its gravity, while dark energy is pushing our universe apart. The nature of both remains a mystery. Planck is a European Space Agency mission with significant participation by NASA.



Another first: remember that new Landsat satellite launched last month? Here is the first pair of images it’s taken. The natural-color images show the intersection of the United States Great Plains and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado. Green coniferous forests in the mountains stretch down to the brown plains with Denver and other cities strung south to north. The Landsat Data Continuity Mission, or LDCM spacecraft acquired the images on March 18 using two sensors collecting data simultaneously over the same ground path.



“Success Through Interdependence” was the theme of this year’s Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium held in Greenbelt, Maryland. The annual event brings together leaders in government, industry and academia to discuss the space program in general and NASA’s strategic plan. One of this year’s keynote speakers was NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“We’re heading in the right direction. We have destinations. You know I can’t tell you which asteroid, but there is going to be an asteroid in 2025. I can tell you Mars. I can’t tell you what landing site when we finally fly a crew-ed mission to the surface. But I can tell you Mars.”

Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese served as the Symposium’s Honorary Chairperson. This was the Fifty-First annual Goddard Memorial Symposium, held in honor of Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the father of modern rocketry.

SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST 2013 – STSCI (CP) Mary Estacion Reporting


This year’s lineup at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas had an entry never before seen here; the full scale model of the next great observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope.

Amber Straughn/JWST Deputy Project Scientist:
“Texas plays a big role in the testing of the James Webb Space Telescope. Some of the major components will go down to Johnson Space Center to be tested in the huge Chamber A facility.”

John Mather/ Nobel Laureate:
“And the whole idea that we can learn about our own history from the beginning of time until now. People are thrilled that we can do this and they’re thrilled that we are doing this.”

The tennis-court sized spacecraft didn’t come alone. NASA with its partners including Northrop Grumman set up a tent that hosted a number of activities designed to educate and enlighten.

Denice Fox /Festival Attendee:
“It’s a great way to show the kids what they can be when they grow up.”

“Welcome to our South by Southwest NASA Social”

(SOT: Rynda Laurel/NASA Social Attendee) “All different kind of walks of life… all gathering based on science and NASA. It’s genius!” Jacob Ingalls/Festival Attendee:
“Actually being able to talk with the person is really a way to connect and actually feel like it’s real like they’re a part of it.”

What else some attendees could be a part of … the finale to NASA’s 3-day exhibit.

Christina Thompson/NGAS:
“We decided that one way to reach out to kids and the community and really bring them into this event and teach them about astronomy and science would be to attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the largest outdoor astronomy lesson.”

With 526 people staying for the 30 minute astronomy class, the record was broken. Not only were they a part of history, they also learned about light and color… giving them a window into how astronomers will use Webb to explore the universe.



Barbara Janoiko, Project Manager, Analog Missions – JSC:
My name is Barbara Janoiko and I'm a project manager for NASA's analog missions. An analog is an environment that is similar to space flight. It has similar characteristics whether it be environment or terrain. We conduct these missions in the field or simulations here onsite at NASA to simulate operations for exploration missions.

No matter what the destination is that NASA goes to explore, we can use the analog missions to get there. We test out the operations concepts and hardware that would go to space. We learn our lessons early in the design before the hardware gets too far along in its development and so we save costs later on.

The past 2 years, we have done an asteroid mission study which included both undersea missions as well as simulations here onsite. I started off a cooperative education student and got a lot of different experiences both in mission operations as well as engineering. And started off my career with NASA in a spacesuit in extravehicular activity tools group.

My job is really exciting. The team included the astronauts and all of the engineers are great. Everybody comes from a different discipline. We have folks with operations experience and engineering experience and we all work together to train the astronauts to conduct realistic missions. My advice would be to do what you love. Study what you enjoy and if you love your job, then it's not a job. You enjoy going there every day and it's not a chore. So just have fun.



Stennis Space Center hosted a daylong Women’s History Month event for high school girls in Mississippi and Louisiana to foster a discussion about pursuing educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The GEMS event – Girls Excited About Math and Science – included activities such as speed mentoring, a cryogenics demonstration, a dress for success fashion show, and a college and career expo.



More than 60 teams of American and international high school students took part in the Orlando Regional FIRST Robotics Competition to see who could best design, build and operate a robot capable of accurately throwing a Frisbee and climbing a pyramid.

Held at the University of Central Florida Arena, the privately funded event included several teams that used NASA help to develop their machines.

Robert Cabana, Director, Kennedy Space Center:
“This is what NASA does, if you look at where we're going as we explore into the future, what do we do first? We send robots as precursors. Many of the same skills you use in developing your robots are the same skills that go into the Mars Science Lab Curiosity, they're just a little more refined than what we're using on the floor today."

Among the teams mentored by Kennedy Space Center employees were the Horsepower and Bionic Tigers squads, both of whom used NASA expertise to rebuild their robots overnight after their transport carriers were involved in a traffic accident.

The Kennedy-assisted Pink Team finished second.

The competition continues in St. Louis, where the regional finishers will compete for the national title next month.



NASA celebrates two anniversaries this week. 48 years ago, on March 23, 1965, the first manned Gemini mission was launched from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 19. Piloted by astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom and John Young, the three-orbit Gemini 3 mission tested spacecraft and launch vehicle systems for future long-duration flights; how the capsule could be maneuvered in orbit, then controlled for reentry and landing. The Gemini program helped set the stage for NASA’s moon landings.



And 21 years ago, on March 24, 1992, space shuttle Atlantis launched from the Kennedy Space Center on STS-45. The nine-day mission brought to orbit a variety of instruments for conducting scientific research, including atmospheric chemistry, solar radiation, space plasma physics and ultraviolet astronomy. The seven-member crew was commanded by none other than future NASA Administrator, Charlie Bolden.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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