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This Week @ NASA, May 29, 2013
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This Week at NASA…


4, 3, 2, 1, zero and liftoff

Expedition 36/37 Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg of NASA, Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency and Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on May 29 Kazakstan time for an accelerated six-hour journey to the International Space Station. The arrival of the trio marks the start of its five and a half month mission aboard the ISS. They join Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA and Russians Pavel Vinogradov -- Commander of the station and Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin. Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin have been on the station since late March.



Views from above of the storm system associated with the destructive May 20 EF-5 tornado in Oklahoma. An image from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite shows the “supercell” thunderstorm that spawned the deadly tornado. The red line depicts the track of the mile-wide twister that passed just south of Oklahoma City.

And this animation of images from NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite shows the movement of the storm system across the south-central U.S. An EF-5 tornado generates winds of at least 200 miles per hour.



NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was updated on the important work being on done at the agency’s California centers recently. At Dryden Flight Research Center, in Edwards, the Administrator toured Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems' Dream Chaser spacecraft. The Dream Chaser test article will be evaluated later this year as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.

Admin Bolden:
“I am personally excited about having Dream Chaser here at Dryden. I can’t think of a better place to be testing a vehicle like this then bringing it right out here to the Edwards dry lake bed which is very historic in its own right. “


During a stop at Pasadena’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Bolden was briefed on new technology being developed for NASA's initiative to capture and relocate an asteroid to Earth-Moon space for study, sample collection and return by humans.

Admin Bolden:
“JPL continues to play a critical role in our plans to develop a mission to identity, capture, and redirect an asteroid. This mission represents an unprecedented technological challenge raising the bar for human & scientific exploration and discovery.”


And at Ames Research Center in Moffet Field, Bolden saw work being done with additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, a critical part of President Obama's push for a strong American manufacturing sector and the PhoneSat nanosatellite technology program, which builds small satellites with off-the-shelf cellular phone technology.

Admin Bolden:
“As NASA ventures further into space, whether re-directing an asteroid or sending humans to Mars, we’ll need transformative technology to reduce cargo weight and volume. In the future, perhaps astronauts will be able to print tools or components they need while in space.”



On May 31, an asteroid believed to be about 1.7 miles long named 1998 QE2 will sail safely past Earth, about 3.6 million miles away. According to astronomers this encounter with QE2 at 4:59pm Eastern Time will be the asteroid’s closest approach to earth for at least the next two centuries.

Lindley N. Johnson, Near Earth Objects Observations Program Executive:
“There is no threat to Earth from this close approach, but it provides us a very good opportunity to learn more about this object; the size, shape and rotation dynamics of this object.”

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program manages and funds the search, study, and monitoring of asteroids and comets to facilitate a chief NASA priority of protecting the planet from those objects.



Jack Fischer was one of four NASA astronauts to fly simulated landings of the Dream Chaser spacecraft at the Langley Research Center.

Langley Aerospace Engineer:
“Everybody ready to go?”

The three-day simulations in a mock-up cockpit gave astronauts a feel for how the Sierra Nevada Corporation's winged vehicle will handle from the moment it enters Earth's atmosphere through a runway landing. Sierra Nevada Corporation is working with NASA's Commercial Crew Program to refine the design of the Dream Chaser for future missions to low-Earth orbit.



NASA’s Curiosity rover has drilled into its second rock on the Red Planet. Curiosity drilled a 2-point-6 inch deep hole into a rock called “Cumberland” – located about nine feet east of “John Klein”, the rock Curiosity drilled into three months ago. Plans call for delivering portions of the Cumberland sample to laboratory instruments inside the rover for analysis and comparison to samples from John Klein, which indicated that long ago, conditions favorable for microbial life existed in that area of Mars.

PHONESAT’S MOSAIC OF EARTH – ARC (CP) Jesse Carpenter Reporting


Following its launch on the Antares test rocket in April, the Ames-built PhoneSat-1 cubesat successfully deployed into orbit and demonstrated that a low cost, cell phone based satellite could work in space.

During the flight, signals carrying image data from the cell phone cameras were transmitted back to the ground. Volunteer HAM radio operators worldwide recorded and uploaded the data to the research team at Ames to form a mosaic picture of the Earth.

Researchers are already building the next generation of PhoneSat for launch later this year.



Goddard Space Flight Center hosted traditional media and NASA social media followers for a NASA Social about the Global Precipitation Measurement mission and other NASA programs. GPM is an international network of satellites that will measure rain and snowfall around the world and provide new insights into our planet’s water cycles. Participants heard from GPM scientists about this cutting edge science and were treated tours of the facilities where GPM's core satellite was tested. The core satellite is scheduled to launch from Japan in 2014.



On May 24, 1962, Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter launched from Cape Canaveral aboard the Aurora 7 spacecraft. The flight was the second manned orbital mission of the Mercury program, following John Glenn’s Friendship 7 flight three months earlier.

Like Glenn, Carpenter circled the Earth three times. The five-hour mission focused on science and included the first study of liquids in weightlessness and Earth photography. A targeting mishap during reentry took the spacecraft about 250-miles off course. However, Carpenter and Aurora 7 were safely recovered after splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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