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This Week @ NASA, October 21, 2011
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This Week@NASA...


Lori Garver: "What we have to do is move forward in a way that preserves the very best of NASA, but recognizes that what we have invested in can now be done in partnership with others and others have a lot to bring to the table as well."

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver provided keynote remarks at this year’s International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight held in Las Cruces, New Mexico. With "Business at the Speed of Innovation" the conference theme, Garver focused on NASA's vision for future exploration and a strong commercial space capability that’ll spur job creation and strengthen the country’s economy.

Greg Whitney, Tomas Gonzalez-Torres and Judd Frieling, share a special distinction. They're NASA's newest Flight Directors in Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. They’ll help manage International Space Station operations, integrate cargo and crew vehicles, and assist in planning future exploration missions. Whitney, Gonzalez-Torres, and Judd Frieling have 40 years of combined experience at NASA.

If the past is any indication, science research on the now-complete International Space Station, the world’s only laboratory in microgravity, will continue to improve life here on Earth. One success story: the Advanced Astroculture investigation by a team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their research conducted during three station expeditions will help create high energy, low mass food sources in limited volume for both long-duration spaceflight and here on terra firma. Among other contributions, the technology behind ADVASC’s novel air purifier that kills 98% of airborne pathogens is now in widespread use in food preservation, in doctors’ offices and everyday living environments.

Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity have been honored with Popular Mechanic’s Mechanical Lifetime Achievement Award for their dogged pursuit of exploration on the Red Planet. The 2011 Breakthrough awards were presented to The Rover team at an invitation-only awards gala and ceremony in New York.

Other awardees included famed director and former NASA Advisory Council member, James Cameron, who received the Breakthrough Leadership Award for technological innovations that have changed the face of filmmaking. More on the awards and their winners is in the November issue of Popular Mechanics.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll visited the Kennedy Space Center. Center Director Bob Cabana led them on a tour of Kennedy’s Operations and Checkout Building, where NASA’s new Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle will be prepared for launch. Scott and Caroll also visited Launch Complex-40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, from where SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will liftoff for the International Space Station on a test flight for NASA.

The state’s top officials also held a Florida Cabinet meeting and Space Industry Roundtable at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex.

And Now Centerpieces...

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell paid a visit to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility for a first-hand look at the development of Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Taurus II rocket that will start carrying supplies to the International Space Station in 2012. Orbital will be conducting missions for NASA under the agency's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Project and Commercial Resupply Services Contract. During the visit, the governor also received a construction update on the Mid-Atlantic regional spaceport’s launch pad 0a from which the Taurus II will launch. The first Taurus II launch is currently slated for early 2012.

Bill Wrobel: "Virginia has taken a renewed interest in everything that’s going on at Wallops and I think it was a good opportunity for him to come in and tour the facilities we have here and just see what all is taking place here at Wallops."

"It makes me wonder, what it is, where it is… it’s really interesting."

What's getting the attention of passers-by in Baltimore’s inner harbor is a unique art exhibit… that’s literally lighting up this tourist destination.

"Thought it was a laser show… didn’t know it something scientific at all."

But it is science... the green line represents the different kinds of information NASA's Hubble space telescope gets when it looks out into the cosmos.

Antonella Nota: "...the real true physics that allow astronomers to understand what the object is all about. We learn about the temperature... the physical conditions... We learn about their distance."

After decades of seeing the beautiful pictures from Hubble, artist Tim Roth wanted to shine a new light on the 21-year-old newsmaker.

Tim Roth: "This is the job of art! Is really to puzzle people, so the people are standing there saying, oh what’s that, and they get interested."

While Roth knows many who walk by think the display on the wall of the Maryland Science Center looks like a heartbeat, he says it is in a way... but it's of the heartbeat of the universe.


Peter Frampton: "I just want to say that we’re all big space nuts; we all want the space program to continue and we have to keep exploring."

Singer and musician Peter Frampton toured the Johnson Space Center at the invitation of Expedition 28 Astronaut Ron Garan.

Frampton visited the Mission Control Center, where he spoke with Astronaut Mike Fossum aboard the International Space Station.

Peter Frampton: "The guys here don't believe you’re actually in space so can you prove it to us."

Peter Frampton: (laughter) "We believe you. That’s amazing!"

Frampton's stops included astronaut training facilities and watching engineers developing vehicles to explore the surfaces of distant planets, asteroids or moons.

Frampton and Garan corresponded while Garan lived on the space station during Expedition 28. Garan came alive at Frampton’s August concert in San Francisco via a special downlink from space.

The yearlong celebration of Stennis Space Center’s 50th Anniversary continues. It was 1961, when NASA announced its plans to build a rocket engine test facility in south Mississippi. Stennis’s rich history and role in the future of space exploration was cited at a center event by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.

Charlie Bolden: "One of these days when my granddaughters are preparing to get on a rocket ship and go to Mars, they’re going to have the satisfaction that there granddad is going to be tell them I’m comfortable with what you’re about to do; I know the engines are going to be good because they’ve been through Stennis and through the state of Mississippi. So, thank you all so very much for what you do. God Bless all of you!" (applause)

The center held the final round of its Legends Lecture Series. Influential former employees and contractors joined current employees in sharing experiences and contributions that have played a vital role in the Center’s development.

David Geiger: "This whole work force -- doesn't matter what badge you wore or who you were; it was a 'can-do' outfit. There was nothing you couldn't take on, and wouldn't take on, and couldn't accomplish."

Ten years ago, on October 24, 2001, the Odyssey spacecraft reached Mars to study and map the elemental composition of the Martian surface, and evaluate the Red Planet’s radiation environment. Odyssey also has served as a communication relay for most of the data sent home by the Phoenix Lander and the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. It also became the middle link for continuous observation of Martian weather by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. In 2010, Odyssey became the longest-serving spacecraft at the Red Planet.

And five years later, NASA released the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory into the heavens to stereographically image the sun and its emissions. The two identical space-based observatories – Stereo A, and Stereo-B, orbit the sun -- one ahead of the Earth, the other trailing. This dual perspective allows scientists to better see the structure and evolution of solar storms as they move from the sun into space.

And that's This Week@NASA!

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