NASA Podcasts

This Week @ NASA, October 28, 2011
› Listen Now
› View Now
This Week@NASA...

3-2-1 main engine start 1-0 and liftoff of the Delta II with the NPP satellite blazing the way a new technology for climate research and weather forecasting.

Ken Schwer: "All the systems look strong; communications look strong."

The nation's newest Earth-observing satellite has begun its mission. The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project, or NPP, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, heralding a new era of climate change science and weather forecasting for the United States.

Jim Gleason: "I know we’re going to have thousands of users around the world who are anxiously waiting to use NPP data for more applications than I can even think of."

Data from NPP will enable the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue issuing accurate forecasts and provide advance warning for severe weather. NPP will also extend critical long-term data sets that advance Earth system science and applications supported by NASA, NOAA, and other U.S. agencies.

Lori Garver: "This mission, in particular, has been planned for several years. It evolved over time to include our partners NOAA. So, we’re looking not only at weather, but at climate, and at better modeling happening with what’s happening with our planet earth. So, I think all of this is just showing the robust nature of NASA."

The mission will also test key technologies and instruments for use on the two Joint Polar Satellite System missions.

Expedition 29 Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov, NASA Flight Engineer Dan Burbank and Russian Flight Engineer Anatoly Ivanishin were in Moscow’s Red Square to participate in traditional ceremonies prior to their November flight to the International Space Station. The trio laid flowers at the Kremlin Wall in tribute to iconic Russian officials buried there.

Reporter: "What are the similarities and differences between the shuttle and the Soyuz?"

Dan Burbank: "To me the Soyuz is like a sports car and the shuttle is like an 18-wheeler, and I’m very much looking forward to the ride up hill."

That event followed a media Q & A outside the crew’s training base at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside Moscow. Shkaplerov, Burbank and Ivanishin are scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to the ISS aboard the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft on November 14, local Kazakh time.

The latest in a series of tests of the Orion spacecraft saw an 18,000-pound model of the vehicle dropped into the Langley Research Center's Hydro Impact Basin.

Testing began this summer to certify the Orion spacecraft for water landings. The vehicle will carry astronauts into space, providing emergency abort capability, sustaining the crew during space travel, and ensuring safe re-entry and landing.

This new and improved digital topographic map of Earth is the most complete version ever produced. Known as the global digital elevation model, it was created from images collected by the Japanese Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER. It’s one of five instruments on NASA’s Terra satellite launched in 1999. Enhanced features include improved spatial resolution, increased horizontal and vertical accuracy, and more realistic coverage over bodies of water. The new version of the map provides civilian users with the highest-resolution global topography data available and is available online to users everywhere at no cost.


Barbara Mikulski: "Here in Maryland, both at the Space Telescope and Goddard we have three Noble Prize winners, the greatest telescope called the Hubble since Galileo invented the first one, and we know that great people and a great telescope produce great ideas."

At the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, Maryland a special ribbon cutting ceremony took place to unveil an exhibit on NASA’s next great space observatory -- the James Webb Telescope. The event was part of the Association of Science Technology Centers’ annual conference.

Lori Garver: "While Hubble made it possible for us to rewrite those science text books uncovering a vast new area of knowledge, witnessing phenomenon that have never been seen before, Webb will reveal even more from its vantage point one million miles above the Earth."

Several dignitaries were on hand to mark the occasion -- from Nobel prize winners and political officials, to senior NASA staff.

Lori Garver: "NASA has always been that engine of economic growth and job creation. The Webb telescope is just the latest and greatest example of that."

Using state of the art exhibits and multimedia resource, the Maryland Science Center is dedicated to presenting the latest in scientific discovery to the public. The Webb telescope is a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.


Charlie Bolden: "It’s a delight for me to help unveil this impressive display."

And with that, a special exhibit of NASA’S James Webb Space Telescope kicked off at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore.

Blake Bullock/Northrop Grumman Business Development: "Well Maryland is the home of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the team that’s leading the International Science and Engineering group that’s building the James Webb Telescope. It’s also home of the Space Telescope Science Institute whose operating and running all the science for the Hubble Space Telescope and will do the same great work for the James Webb Space Telescope."

Standing several stories tall, the full-sized mockup gives visitors a preview of how NASA is looking to build on the success of the Hubble Space Telescope.

MOS (Man on street): "This is great. This actually gives everyone an idea of what’s actually going to be out there in space."

MOS: “It’s not necessarily going in and taking scoops of dust or moon rocks or stuff like that but it’s definitely exploration.”

Exploration that’s inspiring not just the public, but the scientists who expect Webb to push our knowledge of the universe to new heights.

John Mather/Nobel Laureate 2006: “We’ll see inside dust clouds where stars are being born. We even have a chance to see the atmospheres of planets around other stars and see if they are a little bit like earth. So there’s so many things we hope to discover and so many other things we haven’t even thought of yet that just might turn up.”

Adam Reiss/Nobel Laureate 2011: “Being a user of Hubble with the Wide Field Camera Three, that’s the best we can do until James Webb launches. And, if I used it for 100 years, I wouldn’t be able to do the kinds of investigations I would like to do with James Webb.

“ A Webb telescope that will, one day, be hard at work a million miles from earth.

Taking a break from its science mission flights, the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy or SOFIA came to NASA Ames Research Center to offer tours to employees and VIP’s alike.

The observatory consists of a 100-inch or 2.5-meter diameter telescope mounted inside a highly modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that can fly at altitudes up to 41,000 feet above sea level.

For two days, the aircraft was opened up so that dignitaries, members of the media, NASA employees and the general public could take self-guided tours of the aircraft.

SOFIA is housed at NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, California and is a cooperative effort between NASA and DLR, the German Aerospace Agency.


Nat: “Welcome to NASA, Wallops Flight Facility”

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility hosted 48 social media guests in its first ever Tweet Up. An event designed to give NASA social media followers an opportunity to visit and find out what Wallops is all about.

Stephanie Schierholz, NASA Social Media Manager: "We took the online engagement that we have with our fans and followers and made an in-person engagement, and so we had a lottery and people could sign up, register to come to this event and then 50 people were randomly selected to come and be here today."

NASA shares what it’s doing as widely as possible and social media is one of the ways NASA can engage with the public.

Stephanie Schierholz: “People will take what they’re seeing and experiencing today and they’ll share it on their social networks. So they’re essentially taking along their followers for everything they experience today.”

You can find all the ways to follow NASA social media and engage with us

SPACEFARM 7 – LaRC (CP) Amy Johnson
Much like the infinity of space – the mercury rocket-shaped corn maze appeared to go on forever at the Belvedere Plantation in Fredericksburg, Va.

The space-themed maze and NASA exhibits turned the Virginia farm into an out of this world experience for families and visitor.

In addition to pumpkins, hayrides, slides and pony rides, farm goers could visit NASA’s Driven to Explore trailer, touch a moon rock, build a corn rocket and play educational games about science and space.

The outreach effort in an unexpected place got many people talking about NASA.

Belvedere Plantation is one of seven farms across the United States taking part in a project called Space Farm 7. The project is a collaboration between NASA and members of a Utah-based company that helps farmers design and create mazes. This year the organization decided to highlight NASA.

For those visiting the farm recently, NASA’s presence was a welcome surprise.

Dennis Geissler, 10, Stafford, VA: "We came to pick some pumpkins, but learning about NASA was an exciting bonus."

And that's This Week@NASA!

For more on these and other stories, log on to:
› Listen Now
› View Now