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This Week @ NASA, August 26, 2011
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This Week@NASA...


September 16 is the new date for three members of the Expedition 28 crew to return home from the International Space Station. The journey back to Earth for Andrey Borisenko, Ron Garan, and Alexander Samokutyaev, will conclude on September 16 with a landing of their Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 12:01 a.m. Eastern. Originally scheduled for September 8, their return had been postponed indefinitely after the station-bound Progress 44 spacecraft failed to reach orbit after its August 24 launch.


The arrival of this Antonov cargo carrier at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia signals another milestone for NASA'S partnership with industry to re-supply the International Space Station. It brought to Wallops the Cygnus spacecraft's Pressurized Cargo Module, or PCM. Over the next few months, the PCM will be integrated with the Cygnus service module that includes the spacecraft's avionics, propulsion and power systems. Designed by the Orbital Sciences Corporation to carry cargo and supplies to the ISS, the Cygnus spacecraft is scheduled for a demonstration flight early next year.


David Lehman: "A lot of work is going on; final preparations."

With the launch of NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory spacecraft drawing closer, GRAIL scientists held a prelaunch briefing to discuss their mission.

Maria Zuber: "Trying to understand how the moon formed and how it evolved over its history is one of the things we're trying to address with the GRAIL mission."

GRAIL will fly twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in exceptional detail. GRAIL is expected to answer persistent questions about the makeup of the moon's interior and, thereby, help scientists better understand how Earth and other rocky planets in our solar system formed.

Maria Zuber: "I am predicting that we're going to find something, and I don't know what it is, that is really, really, going to surprise us and turn our understanding of how the moon and other terrestrial planets formed on its ear."

GRAIL is scheduled to launch the morning of September 8 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


From aboard the ISS: "This storm is stretching from Cuba to the Carolinas and that is one scary-big storm."

As Hurricane Irene made her way towards the U.S. mainland, NASA helped keep a close watch on the storm's development and progress. Over a number of days, the Expedition 28 crew aboard the International Space Station trained its cameras on the huge Atlantic system almost 230 miles below. And, this is NASA animation produced from a series of observations made by NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-13. NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite, TRMM, helped measure the storm's intensity. Other observations were made by the MODIS, or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, aboard NASA's Aqua satellite.


For the first time, NASA-funded researchers have created a complete map showing the speed and direction ice flows throughout Antarctica. This animation demonstrates how ice is naturally transported from the continent's deep interior to its coast. The red and purple areas represent the fastest flowing ice. The map was created using integrated radar observations from a consortium of international satellites. The map gives scientists not only a better understanding of how ice sheets flow, but also how the ice might react to climate change and affect future sea levels.


Houston City Council: "I'd like Shannon Walker to join me up here."

Astronaut Shannon Walker returned her key to the city of Houston after flying it aboard Expedition 24/25.

Shannon Walker: "I wanted to return these to the city and say thank you very much for letting me fly these, and I'm very proud to be a Houstonian."

The first native Houstonian in space, Walker served as flight engineer for more than five months on the International Space Station, launching on Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft in June 2010 and returning to earth on November 25.



Patrick Scheuermann: "For the past three years, the team we recognize today have worked diligently behind the scenes to pull off the impossible."

A ceremony marked the official transfer of the former Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant facilities to the Stennis Space Center, positioning the site for years of major expansion.

Patrick Scheurmann: "So we've come a long way since 1974 in our understanding of the ongoing operations of the federal city and inherited a great treasure of assets from those who proceeded us."

Stennis is a unique "federal city" home to more than 30 federal, state, academic and private organizations and numerous technology-based companies. The "federal city" model allows these resident agencies to share the cost of owning and operating the center, making it more cost-effective for each entity to accomplish its independent mission. With acquisition of the 1.6 million square feet of facility space, NASA increases the total facility space at Stennis by about 33 percent.

Lori Garver: "I go to deputy's meetings where we talk about and set policies for interagency cooperation but you make it happen. This is where it happens and my colleagues and I on the stage just couldn't be more proud."


Five-time Grammy Award winning Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman was at the Johnson Space Center recently and had the opportunity to speak with International Space Station Expedition 28 crew members Mike Fossum and Ron Garan from the Mission Control Center.

Stephen Curtis Chapman: – "This is Stephen Curtis Chapman, how's it going, guys?"

Mike Fossum: - "Greetings, Mike here and Ron, it's really great to talk to you."

Stephen Curtis Chapman: –"I've had a lot of crazy experiences in my life but first time to talk to a couple of brothers in space."

Mike Fossum: –"Your music's flying with us and you're just a real blessing to us and it's great that you're able to join and see a little bit of NASA behind the scenes and it's an honor to talk to you."

Stephen Curtis Chapman: – " Thank you guys. When we release a new album, we call it launching an album; which, after seeing this, I think we might need to change that name because it pales by comparison."

Mike Fossum: – "I do think that launching is a proper word for it because it's a lot of the same stuff – a little less fire and smoke. For us a launch is a new beginning to a new chapter, for us and our mission as it is for you when you launch a new album and you send it off with a prayer and a wave and off it goes, it takes on a life of its own."

Stephen Curtis Chapman: – "Bless you, thank you so much, guys."

And that's This Week@NASA!

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