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This Week @ NASA, August 19, 2011
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This Week @NASA...


Craig DeForest: "For the first time, we’ve been able to image a Coronal Mass Ejection with lots of detail and a photometric quality all the way through its entire life cycle."

New processing techniques used on data gathered by NASA’s STEREO spacecraft will allow scientists to better track solar storms before they impact Earth. The storms -- called Coronal Mass Ejections, or CMEs -- are observed from NASA's twin Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory spacecraft launched in 2006. The data now reveals a clear and detailed look at a storm’s front from the sun all the way to Earth, thus reducing uncertainty of its arrival time.

Madhulika Guhathakurta: "With Stereo’s five telescopes today, we are actually witnessing the solar wind; we can see them, solar wind and solar storm, blowing all the way from sun to earth."

STEREO is part of NASA's Solar Terrestrial Probes Program that seeks to understand the fundamental physical processes of the space environment from sun to Earth, and other planets.

Technicians from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory were inside the Kennedy Space Center’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility to assist in preparing the Curiosity rover for its upcoming Mars Science Laboratory, or MSL mission. They worked on stowing the rover’s robotic arm; it’ll hold and maneuver instruments that scientists will use to analyze Martian rocks and soil. MSL is targeted for launch on Nov. 25 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.


New York City was the latest stop in a postflight appearance tour by the last space shuttle crew.

Over three days, STS-135 astronauts Chris Ferguson, Doug Hurley, Rex Walheim and Sandy Magnus made numerous appearances around Manhattan, including interviews on CNN’s American Morning, and Comedy Central’s, The Colbert Report.

Stephen Colbert: "My guests tonight are the crew of the last space shuttle mission. If you see anything that burst from their chest run."

Stephen Colbert : "What did feel like to know that you were the last person landing the shuttle?"

Chris Ferguson: "It was tough for us to get out of the Orbiter, knowing that there would be nobody else to follow in our footsteps."

They visited the American Museum of Natural History showing video highlights from their 12-day mission aboard space shuttle Atlantis, and taking questions from space enthusiasts of all ages.

Question: “What, in your opinion, is a good quality or trait for an astronaut to have?”

Sandy Magnus: “I think you have to love of learning because, as an astronaut, you are constantly learning new things every day?

They met with officials and VIPs, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with whom they exchanged a space-flown memento and a city proclamation.

They also hung out with NASA’s favorite fuzzy red monster, Elmo, from Sesame Street.

Elmo: “Hello! Hello Commander.”

A special, day-long program called “What’s Your Favorite Space?” was co-hosted by the Langley Research Center and the Eventi Hotel. Exhibits, demonstrations, games and entertainment showcased NASA’s contributions to the public and industry and paid tribute to the space shuttle program. The astronauts and a large audience were welcomed by NASA Deputy Administrator, Lori Garver.

Garver: “We have with us here the crew that landed with the space shuttle just three weeks ago.”

Garver also made the introductions at another event.

At the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the 135 crew had a “meet and greet” with visitors, while NASA staff helped the public explore the International Space Station, walk on Mars and control NASA robots with Kinect sensor and Xbox 360 games. Intrepid will be the new home for NASA’s decommissioned space shuttle, Enterprise.



Their country-wide tour also brought Ferguson, Hurley, Magnus and Walheim to the Stennis Space Center, where they thanked employees for helping make their mission a success. The mission’s pilot, Doug Hurley, talked about how important engine reliability was to him as a pilot.

Doug Hurley: “Your biggest responsibility is engines, and then your second responsibility is engines, and your third responsibility is engines because without those engines we’re not getting to orbit.”

The Stennis Space Center is NASA’s largest rocket engine test facility.

NASA's second annual IT Summit covered topics ranging from security to the role of IT in space science and exploration. Drawing nearly 2,000 attendees, the three-day event hosted by the Ames Research Center featured technology leaders from government, the private sector and academia. The Summit was hosted by NASA’s Chief Information Officer, Linda Cureton.

Linda Cureton: "There’s a tremendous need to think about IT as a discipline; how do you manage at the scale of an organization the size of NASA; how do you architect a future with heterogeneous needs, and how do you move forward in a cost effective way."

Attendees participated in activities showcasing best practices in science and engineering support, infrastructure & operations, and innovative technological waves of the future.

Thousands of current and former Space Shuttle Program employees gathered at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to celebrate 30 years of success and accomplishment.

Highlights of the "We Made History!" event included a presentation by the crew of the final shuttle flight for Atlantis' STS-135 mission, and a nighttime air show.

And now, Centerpieces…

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, the Marine Science Consortium and the US Fish and Wildlife Service signed a collaborative agreement that will specify and make possible more comprehensive environmental studies in the area.

Amber Parker, Executive Director Marine Science Consortium:
“We’ve actually created an agreement that allows NASA the US Fish and Wildlife Service as well as the Marine Science Consortium to do projects, to create opportunities for research and hands-on applications that are going on in the field, in this region, particularly what we call the coastal zone research area.”

The focus is in the long term with climate change and sea level rise being the issues that will slowly, over time, impact the environment around us.

Lou Hinds, Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge Manager : "So we’re gonna need better predictive tools, better predictive technologies and working together with the universities to collect the data today that will answer some of those questions into the future is so important."

NASA, USFWS and MSC will work together and bring to bear each of their unique capabilities in an unprecedented effort in environmental stewardship.

Bill Wrobel, Director Wallops Flight Facility: "I think that what we can bring along with the universities is with some of the instrumentation that we have. To be able to fly overhead maybe with some of the UAV’s that we have here or maybe some of the tethered balloons, and be able to get some readings, and so if we map that out with some of the instrumentation we have we’ll be able to say ok if that’s what healthy looks like, then we know that the signature looks like this."

Retired NASA astronaut and research pilot Fred Haise was honored recently, by the Lancaster, California, Jethawks baseball team during their Aerospace Appreciation Night.

Haise is best known as one of the three Apollo 13 astronauts, who survived a potential space tragedy when an oxygen tank on their Apollo service module exploded on their 1970 lunar mission. Haise was recognized during pre-game ceremonies by the Jethawks, and then threw out the first pitch before the team's California League game against the San Jose Giants. Haise was joined on the field by retired NASA astronaut Gordon Fullerton, with whom he flew three of the five approach and landing tests of the prototype space shuttle orbiter Enterprise in 1977, and the two NASA research pilots, Fitzhugh Fulton and Tom McMurtry, who flew the modified Boeing 747 shuttle carrier aircraft that carried the Enterprise aloft for the flights. The occasion was also marked by a giveaway of bobble-head dolls in Haise' likeness to baseball fans attending the game, and an aerial salute by a F/A-18 from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, where Haise had served as a test pilot in the mid-1960s, before becoming an astronaut.

It had never happened before – and most likely will never happen again, but for a few minutes, recently, NASA's two modified Boeing 747 space shuttle carrier aircraft flew in formation over the Edwards Air Force Base test range in Southern California.

Since both converted jetliners were scheduled to be in the air at about the same time, pilot Jeff Moultrie of Johnson Space Center's Aircraft Operations Directorate, arranged to have both aircraft fly in formation for about 20 minutes.

NASA Dryden photographer Carla Thomas eagerly took the opportunity to capture still and video imagery from a NASA FA-18.

The two modified 747s were primarily used to ferry the space shuttles, after landings at Edwards, to the Kennedy Space Center and to and from various other locations during the shuttles more than three decade history. They'll also carry the now-retired Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis to their final destinations for eventual public display.

STS-134 astronaut Greg “Box” Johnson joined crewmate Mike Fincke at the Glenn Research Center for a post-mission briefing. Johnson and Fincke, who flew aboard space shuttle Endeavour in May, followed-up their presentation with a Q & A session.

Question: “What advice would you give someone who wants to be astronaut?”

Greg Johnson: “Do what you love and then you’ll do it really well.”

Later, the pair threw out the first pitches of that evening’s baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the host Cleveland Indians.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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