NASA Podcasts

This Week @ NASA, November 19, 2012
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This Week at NASA…



After handing over the reins of the International Space Station to NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams of NASA, Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and Flight Engineer Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, all of whom have been on the station since July 17, made a safe parachute-assisted landing in their Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan on Nov. 19 local time. Expedition 34 crewmembers Ford, Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin will be joined onboard the station by Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, NASA’s Tom Marshburn and Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency. Their arrival Dec. 21 will restore to six the number of people aboard the orbiting laboratory.



(nat sound: Kevin Ford on ISS)
“We hear you loud and clear aboard the International Space Station. Welcome aboard!”

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Moving Beyond Earth gallery was among 25 North American locations at which participants of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) plugged into life onboard the International Space Station during a live video-conference with the ISS. The event gave U.S. and Canadian students an opportunity to ask station crew members about daily activities onboard the orbiting laboratory.

(nat sound: Kid’s question)
“What advice can you give young kids like me about pursuing our dreams?”

(SOT: Suni Williams, Expedition 33 Commander)
“Just have your eyes wide open and get ready for all of those challenges – because they’ll be out there but they’ll be fun and the rewards are great if you try hard, work hard and do your best.”

A panel of spaceflight and science experts also fielded questions -- including astronaut Leland Melvin – NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education. The SSEP program is a joint venture between the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE), NASA, and the U.S. Department of Education.

(nat sound: group taking photo)
“One, two three … space!”



A new NASA service will help sky watchers pinpoint where and when the International Space Station will make an appearance in the skies above them. NASA’s “Spot the Station” service sends a text or email to anyone with an email account or an SMS-enabled phone to alert them when the ISS is scheduled for a flyover in the area. Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center compiles sighting opportunities for 4,600 locations worldwide. To sign up, visit If your city or town isn’t listed, just pick one that’s close by!

CURIOSITY ROVER REPORT– JPL (CP) Ashwin Vasavada Reporting


(SOT: Ashwin Vasavada, MSL Deputy Project Scientist)

Hi, I’m Ashwin Vasavada, the deputy project scientist for the Curiosity rover and this is your Curiosity rover update.

A lot of what this mission is about is figuring out the possibility that ancient Mars was a habitable environment. But we’re also studying the present environment. Two instruments that help with that are the RAD instrument and the REMS instrument.

The RAD instrument is a radiation assessment detector. It measures the high-energy radiation coming up from the cosmic rays and the sun. That radiation is changed as it goes through Mars’ atmosphere to where we detect it on the surface.

By measuring the radiation at Mars’ surface Curiosity is helping prepare for human missions to Mars.

Another instrument that Curiosity has that measures the modern environment is called the rover environmental monitoring station. It’s basically our weather station. We measure a lot of things including pressure, and humidity, temperature and wind.

It’s been seeing little dips in pressure around noon that seemed like the signature of dust devils. Only thing is our pictures haven’t turned up any dust devils.

Spirit and Opportunity saw lots of dust devils moving across the horizon. Our best guess at what’s going on is that Curiosity is seeing dust devils go right over it, only thing is we’re not seeing the dust devils.

So what we think is happening is the same sorts of vortexes, driven by convection are occurring on Mars at the Curiosity’s site but just not picking up dust.

Another thing that REMS has been measuring is winds. Turns out we’re in a pretty interesting place inside of Gale Crater. We’re right at the base of a 5-kilometer high mountain to the south of us and then there’s a pretty tall crater rim to the north of us and we’re sitting in kind of a flat depression between the two.

The winds blow up and down the mountain as the temperature changes during the day and up and down the crater slopes and then along the depression where we’re at.

So right now we’re trying to figure out from the REMS data exactly which parts of that wind field we’re measuring.

With Thanksgiving coming up we’ve been preparing a few days worth of commands to send up to the rover to keep it busy while people here take some much needed time off. The rover will be acquiring a big panorama of our surroundings while we’re away.

I’m Ashwin Vasavada and this has been your Curiosity rover update.



NASA has announced the successful completion of the Kepler space telescope’s baseline mission to search for planets in other solar systems. Since its launch in 2009, scientists using Kepler have identified more than 100 exoplanets and another 23-hundred-plus candidates.

Charlie Sobek, Kepler Mission Deputy Project Manager: “The tapestry of everything that goes on in the Kepler. It’s really a team mission. It’s an enormous number of people who come together to make this kind of mission happen.”

In April of this year, NASA awarded the Kepler mission up to four more years of funding, allowing the telescope to continue its planetary census and to help scientists better understand solar system and planetary formation.



Engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center are using a new, cost-saving method to create intricate metal parts for America’s next heavy-lift rocket. Called “Selective Laser Melting” the process uses a high-energy laser to melt a fine metal powder into a computer-aided designed pattern. A hybrid of 3-D printing and artistic welding, SLM creates intricately-designed parts with complex geometries that are more strong and safe in less time, saving millions in manufacturing costs. These new, SLM-created parts will be on the first SLS test flight in 2017.



The Goddard Space Flight Center hosted a 2012 Veterans Day Recognition Program, with former NASA astronaut and retired Navy captain Scott Altman serving as featured speaker. Altman, who flew four space shuttle missions and commanded STS-125, the final Hubble servicing mission, praised those who’ve defended and upheld those freedoms upon which our nation stands.



Hundreds of students celebrated the 20th annual Young Astronauts Day at the Glenn Research Center. They competed in a variety of activities testing their skills in science and engineering. Meeting with the students was Center Director Ray Lugo, and NASA astronaut and Ohio native, Greg Johnson, who serves as Associate Director of External Programs at Glenn.

This year's event was sponsored by Glenn's Exploration Flight and Development Project Office and the Northern Ohio Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Providing support was the center’s Educational Programs Office.



At the fifth annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium in Huntsville, Marshall Space Flight Center personnel and guests discussed a wide range of topics, including human space exploration, space commerce, national space security and policy, and trends in engineering education. The von Braun Symposium, organized by the American Astronautical Society in conjunction with UA - Huntsville, the National Space Club of Huntsville and NASA strives for the advancement of astronautics in the Unites States.



Registration is now open for the 20th annual Great Moonbuggy Race, scheduled for next April 25 thru 27 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. The Marshall-sponsored event provides high school, college and university students from around the world with real-world engineering experience, and inspiration to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

For details, go to

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH PROFILE – Jeanne Lynch, Chief of Flight Dynamics Division, JSC – JSC

I'm Jeanne Lynch and I'm Chief of the Flight Dynamics Division in the Mission Operations Directorate. The Flight Dynamics Division is responsible for the trajectory of the International Space Station so that includes the visiting vehicles and how they fly to the ISS, as well as where the ISS is located; basically the altitude of how far it is from the Earth.

My grandmother’s grandmother was Cherokee. We moved to Florida next to my grandmother and my mother started getting more involved in the genealogy and our culture. So when I was in high school and even in college before I moved away, I participated in a number of the local Pow-Wows and other Native American Functions.

When I started for NASA, I was actually a new hire right out of college so I wasn't a Co-Op, but I did do my senior project when I was in engineering school that was a NASA funded project through my university where we essentially built a little kind of lunar servicing station for a lunar lander. And it was amazing and a lot of fun.

In any job you have, you need to give it your all; you need to take personal responsibility for the quality of your work, getting it done, and really being passionate about what you do. And I know if you do that, then it gets noticed and everyone appreciates it and then your career will just continue to grow.

NASA ANNIVERSARY: Launch of First ISS Component, November 20, 1998


(VO) Fourteen years ago, on Nov. 20, 1998, Zarya, the first component of the new International Space Station was launched atop a Russian Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. During the initial assembly stage of the ISS Zarya provided the station with propulsion, guidance, battery power, fuel storage, and rendezvous and docking capability for Soyuz and Progress space vehicles. Now that specialized components handle those chores for the station, Zarya is primarily used for storage. NASA ANNIVERSARY: Launch of STS-129, November 16, 2009 @NASAhistory

Three years ago on November 16, 2009 Space Shuttle Atlantis rose skyward from the Kennedy Space Center on STS-129 – an assembly flight to the International Space Station. Atlantis’ crew consisted of Commander Charlie Hobaugh, Pilot Barry Wilmore and Mission specialists Bobby Satcher, Mike Foreman, Randy Bresnik and Leland Melvin. Atlantis delivered parts to the space station, including a spare gyroscope and a UHF communications unit to be used for future station flights by SpaceX.

The mission, the final space shuttle crew rotation flight to or from the space station, also returned to Earth NASA astronaut and station crew member Nicole Stott.

And that’s This Week @NASA.

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