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This Week @ NASA, May 31, 2013
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This Week at NASA…



As the 1.7-mile-long asteroid 1998 QE2 began its relatively close flyby of Earth, telescope images were provided during a live broadcast from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, seen on NASA Television and

Among the insight provided from asteroid experts at JPL and the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, which used radar to track and image the asteroid – a discovery that QE2 has an orbiting moon about 600 meters wide. The program also featured NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, who discussed the agency’s role in keeping the planet safe from asteroids and other Near Earth Objects.

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator:
“These are not National threats, these are global threats. That’s why the asteroid strategy and the second segment of actually – an effort to redirect an asteroid is so, so important.”

The May 31 QE2 fly-by – some 3-point-6 million miles from Earth is asteroid’s the closest approach to our planet for at least the next two centuries.



NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver participated in a "We the Geeks" Google+ Hangout on the White House website. Garver and others who hung out discussed asteroid identification, characterization, resource utilization, and hazard mitigation.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator:
“We need to not only understand them but be able to go to them and learn how to manipulate them. The President outlined on the long-term human strategy to Mars that asteroids would be our next step.”

NASA recently announced plans to find, study, capture and relocate an asteroid for exploration by astronauts. The asteroid initiative is a strategy to leverage human and robotic activities while accelerating efforts to improve detection and characterization of asteroids.



Measurements taken by NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission as it delivered the Curiosity rover to the Red Planet in 2012 are providing NASA the information it needs for designing systems to protect astronauts from radiation exposure on future deep-space expeditions. MSL's Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) is the first instrument to measure the radiation environment during a Mars cruise mission from inside a spacecraft that is similar to potential human exploration spacecraft. The findings will reduce uncertainty about the effectiveness of radiation shielding and help space mission designers better protect astronauts on future deep space missions.



NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot visited the Marshall Space Flight Center recently to discuss the future of human space exploration and the critical role the Marshall workforce plays in development of the Space Launch System – the agency’s new heavy lift rocket that will take humans farther into space than ever before.


And during a visit to Langley Research Center, Lightfoot toured several facilities, including the materials research lab. Langley and the agency are looking at additive manufacturing techniques as a way for astronauts in space to potentially create materials and parts needed for their spacecraft.



Associate Administrator for Space Technology Mike Gazarik hosted a Town Hall meeting from NASA Headquarters to provide agency employees with an overview of the new Space Technology mission directorate and discuss plans for the upcoming year.

Mike Gazarik, Associate Administrator for Space Technology:
“There are a number of technologies that can really help our industry if we, the government can take some risks and show that the technologies can solve the problems that need to be solved. These are tough challenges. That’s kind of what we’re about.”

The Space Technology Mission Directorate is responsible for developing the crosscutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.



NASA's Operation IceBridge has completed another successful data-collecting campaign in the Arctic. Researchers aboard the P-3B airborne laboratory gathered new information on ice elevation and thickness in and around Greenland and the Arctic Ocean. The data will help improve computer models of changing Arctic ice.

Managed by Goddard Space Flight Center, the six-year IceBridge mission is bridging the gap between NASA's ICESat satellite which stopped working in 2009 and ICESat-2 – set to launch in 2016.

GRUNSFELD VISIT TO AMES – ARC (CP) Jesse Carpenter Reporting


During a recent visit to NASA Ames, Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld received a progress update on the Center's science projects, including the LADEE Mission, scheduled to launch later this year to study the thin atmosphere around the Moon.

Grunsfeld also was a featured speaker at the Bay Area Maker Faire in nearby San Mateo, California.

John Grunsfeld, NASA Associate Administrator for Science:
“I’m here at Maker Faire, gave a short talk, but most of the time I’m walking around, watching people and looking at all the great stuff that’s here. And it’s almost overwhelming, even for an astronaut…that there are so many great ideas out there.”

The festival is a celebration of invention, creativity and resourcefulness where ”makers” show off their inventions and to share knowledge.

NASA ANNIVERSARY: SpaceX Dragon – Completes First U.S. Commercial Mission to ISS


On May 31, 2012, the successful splashdown in the Pacific Ocean of the SpaceX Dragon capsule marked the completion of the first U.S. commercial spaceflight to the International Space Station. During the mission, Dragon demonstrated its ability to maneuver in orbit, safely approach the space station and be grappled and berthed to the orbiting laboratory.

Just over four months later, SpaceX, again launched a Dragon stocked with cargo on CRS-1, the first ever commercial cargo resupply flight to the ISS -- the flight signaled the return of America’s capability to independently resupply the orbiting laboratory – a feat not achievable since the retirement of the space shuttle.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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