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This Week @ NASA, September 21, 2012
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This Week at NASA…

After bidding farewell to the Kennedy Space Center and Florida’s Space Coast, Space Shuttle Endeavour headed west toward its new home in California. Secured to NASA 905, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, Endeavour made appearances in the skies over several NASA installations – including Stennis Space Center in Mississippi …

… the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans …

…and Endeavour soared around the Houston area -- before landing at Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center, for the night.

The next day Endeavour and the SCA arrived at the Dryden Flight Research Center – a homecoming of sorts for the orbiter which was built in nearby Palmdale, California, in 19-91.

After leaving Dryden the following day, Endeavour continued its farewell tour up in Northern California – with flyovers of Ames Research Center …

… and several iconic locations in that portion of the Golden State…

… before heading back downstate for a salute to The Jet Propulsion Laboratory …

… and Endeavour provided a series of spectacular photo ops elsewhere in Southern California …

… before making a smooth landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

Lori Garver, NASA Deputy Administrator: “It is a great day for NASA – for America and for the people who live here in Southern California. The fact that the Space Shuttles were developed here, built here just down the road and Endeavour’s coming back on her last ferry flight on the 747 is a wonderful thing.”

Next month, Endeavour will be towed through the streets of Los Angeles to begin its new mission of education and inspiration – on display, at the California Science Center.

Some forty randomly-selected NASA social media followers welcomed Endeavour to Dryden with a two-day NASA social. Those who engage with the agency through Twitter, Facebook and Google+ watched the landing and departure of the orbiter as it piggybacked on the SCA. Participants also spoke with experts, toured aircraft, and met up with other space enthusiasts and members of the NASA social media team.

CURIOSITY CRUISING – JPL (CP) Jessica Samuels Reporting
Hi, I’m Jessica Samuels, member of the engineering operations team and this is your Curiosity rover update.

Last week, we completed our second round of vehicle health checkouts. This was primarily targeted on the robotic arm and the hardware at the end of the robotic arm called the turret.

This included different instruments and the sample processing hardware and sample acquisitioning hardware.

Our arm checkout activity was in preparation for our first contact science. This is an exciting time for the robotic arm team and the mission as a whole as we will do our first placement of an instrument on a target called “Jake Matijevic.”

Our target was named specifically for our surface operations team chief engineer, who unfortunately passed shortly after landing. The target Matijevic has been selected to cross calibrate two of our instruments on the rover. The alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, which resides on the end of the robotic arm, and the ChemCam instrument, which resides on top of the remote sensing mast.

Recently we completed a Mastcam panorama of a ridge, which will give us a great vantage point of the Glenelg target area.

A few sols ago we completed a interesting campaign where we actually acquired images of the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, transiting across the sun.

So that is your Curiosity rover update. Check in for future reports.

Among those instrumental in Curiosity’s success are American small businesses. One company, ATA Engineering, hosted a Google-Plus “Hangout” with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills.

A Google-Plus "Hangout" is a group video chat. The Herndon, Virginia, firm partnered with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to test and analyze Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing.

“And it deployed its wheels to get ready for landing and it actually landed on the surface of Mars.”

ATA Engineering also contributed to the rover's wheels, actuators and thermal control systems.

The next three residents of the International Space Station are training for their upcoming launch to the orbiting laboratory. NASA Flight Engineer Kevin Ford, Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy and Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency, together the Expedition 33/34 crew, are at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, familiarizing themselves with the gear they’ll use and procedures they’ll follow. Their Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in mid-October.

International Space Station Program Scientist Julie Robinson met with researchers and managers at the Glenn Research Center about the experiments they’re responsible for aboard the station. The orbiting lab’s microgravity provides scientists with unique insight to the physical processes presented by problems we encounter here on Earth. Glenn is among several NASA field centers with key roles in station science.

Julie Robinson, International Space Station Program Scientist: “There’s a great capability across the country for knowing how to do an experiment in space and helping a scientist to do that even if they haven’t done an experiment in space before.”

With assembly of the station complete, Robinson has overseen the introduction of hundreds of new, scientific investigations on the ISS, the world’s only laboratory in microgravity.

September is National Preparedness Month, and the Emergency Management Team at NASA Headquarters is sponsoring events and activities to help employees ready themselves for emergencies at work …

“Don’t panic.”

“Don’t panic and never try to self-evacuate.”

… as well as for emergencies at home, and elsewhere.

Matt Runyon, NASA HQ Emergency Management Team : “One of the things we recommend that everyone have in their home or even in their office is the NOAA Weather Radio.”

For steps you can take to prepare for an emergency, visit

The first of two Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles expected from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center has arrived at Wallops Flight Facility and has started its five-year Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, or HS3 mission, to study Atlantic hurricanes closer to the source.

Shane Dover, Wallops Aircraft Office Director: “The HS3 mission in general is a great pathfinder. We’re building a Global Hawk Operations Center East, which will have a permanent ground station here. So Global Hawks will be a permanent part of our future here”.

The aircraft, which can reach altitudes in excess of 55-thousand feet has already conducted a 26-hour flight to study the recent tropical storm Nadine in the Azores.

Model makers at the Langley Research Center have built to-scale three versions of the Space Launch System for a series of wind tunnel tests. Officials in the SLS project office at Marshall will see how these configurations, each complete with solid rocket boosters, center body and crew capsule, behave during ascent. Each of the 12-foot long models, built to three-percent scale, is being instrumented with more than 350 active sensors. The SLS wind tunnel testing at Langley’s Transonic Dynamics Tunnel is scheduled to last about five weeks. NASA’s new Space Launch System will send astronauts farther into space than ever before.

At the Wallops Flight Facility, university students who used their academic skills to develop atmospheric and technology experiments watched those experiments launched on a NASA suborbital sounding rocket. Four university experiments were flown as part of an educational project called RockSat-X, which is designed to give students hands-on experience in designing, fabricating, testing and conducting experiments for space flight.

Chris Koehler, Director Colorado Space Grant Consortia: “We have multiple experiments on the Virginia Tech Baylor collaboration. Nitric Oxide censors and IMU censors as well as trying to detect space particles”.

The program began with a hands-on workshop on rocketry called RockOn, followed by RockSat-C, during which experiments were developed for flight inside a special canister. The program is supported by NASA, in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia.

NASA’s “Rockets to Racecars” was at the Richmond International Raceway to connect the science of NASCAR with the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Employees from Langley discussed the physics of Curiosity’s landing, such as “drag” and “G-forces” and how those same processes are employed in auto racing. Kids went “hands on” by landing their own paper rover and touching an actual rover wheel. “Rockets to Racecars” shares with NASCAR fans how NASA has helped improve race car safety and performance.

(**Coming from GSFC)

Dr. Robert Weems, USGS Paleontologist: “This is a rear footprint of a kind of armored dinosaur, almost certainly a Nodosaur.”

Paleontologist Robert Weems has confirmed that the ancient imprint recently found on the campus of Goddard Space Flight Center was, indeed made by a prehistoric creature that once roamed here.

Nodasaur, a large plant-eating dinosaur left the footprint 110 to 112 million years ago. But it turns out it may not have been alone. Weems says there’s a much smaller, similar looking footprint inside the larger one made, perhaps by a young nodosaur who was traveling with an adult.

Dr. Robert Weems, USGS Paleontologist: “This probably was a breeding area for many of them based on some of these small ones being found.”

But it’s the adult nodosaur tracks that are so rare on the East Coast and make this such a unique find. Dinosaur tracker Ray Stanford, who discovered the footprint says he’s excited by this confirmation.

Ray Stanford, Dinosaur tracker: “His expert word is as good as you can get. I’m thrilled.”

The next step is to further excavate around the footprint and see if there are any other tracks in the immediate area.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of STS-86 – September 25, 1997
Fifteen years ago, on September 25, 1997, STS-86 got underway at the Kennedy Space Center. Commanding Atlantis on its ten-day mission to the Russian Mir Space Station was Jim Weatherbee. Piloting this seventh shuttle docking to Mir was Michael Bloomfield. Rounding out the seven-person crew were NASA Mission Specialists Scott Parazynski, Wendy Lawrence and Dave Wolf, Mission Specialist and Russian Cosmonaut Vladimar Titov and Mission Specialist Jean-Loup Chretien (kray-tee-in) of France. Dave Wolf replaced Mike Foale as a Mir crew member, making Wolf the sixth U.S. astronaut in succession to live on Mir. Foale returned to Earth after spending 145 days in space, 134 of them aboard Mir.

NASA Anniversary: Launch of Dawn Spacecraft - September 27, 2007
And, five years ago, on September 27, 2007, the Dawn spacecraft launched atop a Delta 2 rocket from Cape Canaveral for the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. There, Vesta and Ceres, two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formation billions of years ago, are believed to hold keys to the origins of our solar system. From July 15, 2011 until earlier this month, Dawn orbited Vesta – mapping its surface for clues to its mineralogical composition. Dawn is now making its way to Ceres: estimated arrival is February 2015.

NASA National Hispanic Heritage Month Profile: Omar De Frias, Science Mission Directorate Integration Evaluation Manager, HQ Omar De Frias, Integration Evaluation Manager, Headquarters: Hi I’m Omar De Frias, I am the lead for the Integration Evaluation team for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters.

So we basically manage the execution of the budget for Science. Every time I’m asked the question, ‘hey, where do you work?’ I say, I work for NASA. Obviously, the first response is, ‘wow, really? And they’re fascinated first because of what we do as an agency. I try to tell them, ‘and here’s how I tie into the big picture. Here’s how we do what we do to make, you know, MSL and Curiosity happen.’ I basically got recruited as part of the corporate recruitment effort that NASA did in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and this was back in 2004. I was dealing with a multitude of offers – I was dealing with IBM as a potential hiring possibility and I was dealing with Kimberly-Clark and I ended up choosing NASA because of the path I saw forward.

I used to be a professional basketball player in the Dominican Republic, where I had a chance to really hone in on the skills of teamwork. It’s very important to be able to have a good diverse team you want people with different backgrounds, you want people that have worked internationally.

The biggest thing on diversity on my part is always to put diversity and inclusion in the workforce, so it’s not only about, hey let’s go ahead and hire people from different races we’re building them to be the next leaders of our agency and I think NASA’s done a good job on that.

The family of the late NASA Astronaut Sally Ride joined with officials at the Johnson Space Center to dedicate a tree in memory of the first American woman in space. The live oak was planted in a grove among 62 trees honoring NASA astronauts and space pioneers. Ride, who made her history-making flight in 1983 aboard shuttle Challenger on STS-7, died in July at age 61.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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