NASA Podcasts

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

MSL On Its Way - HQ

(nat sound: "3-2-1 and liftoff...")

On November 26th -- at 10:02 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida. MSL is scheduled to reach the Red Planet next August at a site known as Gale Crater. Curiosity rover’s ten instruments will investigate whether that area of Mars could ever have sustained microbial life.

Now that Expedition 29 crew members Mike Fossum, Satoshi Furukawa and Sergei Volkov are back on Earth, the three remaining residents of the International Space Station are getting ready to welcome another trio to Expedition 30. Scheduled to join Dan Burbank, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin on Dec. 23 is NASA's Don Pettit, the European Space Agency's Andre Kuipers, and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko.

Now into its twelfth year of continuous human presence, the world's only laboratory in microgravity has led to breakthroughs in science and technology that are improving our quality of life here on Earth.

Also changing lives is a spinoff of important equipment aboard the ISS. Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency's family of heavy-lifting space robots on board the ISS, have born neuroArm, the world's first robot capable of performing surgery inside magnetic resonance machines. Among the dozens of patients helped by neuroArm is Paige Nickason of Calgary, Alberta, from whose brain neuroArm successfully removed an egg-shaped tumor.

Administrator Charlie Bolden was at the Marshall Space Flight Center for a first-hand look at work on NASA's new Space Launch System, the rocket that'll make deep space missions possible.Bolden toured Marshall's Thrust Vector Control Test Lab as well as the Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation Lab. Here, engineers are developing and testing the new rocket's guidance, navigation and control software and avionics and thrust vector control hardware. This integrated propulsion test-bed, using digital computer models, demonstrates real-time flight control of the launch vehicle during ascent.

Charlie Bolden: "What we're able to do in this facility is take the hardware – test it out a little bit, take the software – test it out a little bit and marry them up right here in the Sim Lab. So that, you know, we're going to have real live flight hardware with real live flight software married up in this facility. So that if there's something that's going to go wrong we discover it here in Huntsville before we take it Florida and put it on a vehicle."

The Marshall Center is leading design and development of the Space Launch System.

The new heavy-lift launch vehicle will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system. Its first full-scale test flight is set for 2017.

The Mighty Eagle, NASA's robotic lander designed to explore the surface of the moon, asteroids and other destinations, performed a successful altitude test flight at the Redstone Test Center on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. As directed, the lander hovered... flew up to 100 feet... then moved horizontally before putting down safely at the test site.

Once again, a nationwide survey ranks NASA as the fifth-best place to work in the Federal government. The survey, conducted by the non-profit, non-partisan Partnership for Public Service, polled more than 276,000 federal workers. Placing first among NASA centers was Stennis which, out of 240 organizations within the federal government, ranked number 2! Stennis also topped the list of all Federal organizations for employee empowerment, fairness and support for diversity.


(nat sound: Matthew Ritsko, Financial Manager-GSFC)
"It seemed to me like this idea could be expanded – it could be taken to the next level".

Matthew Ritsko, a Financial Manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center, is the winner of the third annual White House SAVE Award, a contest that solicits cost-cutting ideas from federal employees. Ritsko proposed establishing a centralized tool repository, or "lending library," for NASA employees to access when developing and building space flight projects. Ritsko's plan is being included in the White House's annual budget request.

The Women@NASA website has expanded to include Aspire 2 Inspire, a new feature aimed at helping middle school girls explore education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Five videos explore the careers and backgrounds of early-career women who work for NASA in each of the STEM fields. Aspire 2 Inspire also lists community organizations and NASA-affiliated outreach programs that emphasize STEM. Four Twitter feeds enable site visitors to interact with the young women featured in the videos.

NASA spinoffs are the subject of two new Public Service Announcements airing on NASA TV.

(nat sound "Arthur Christmas")
"Speaking of space technology, did you know that space is hidden all around you?"

The first features Elf 6409EF from Sony Pictures new film, "Arthur Christmas." Our animated protagonist illustrates how NASA-developed space technologies are making our lives better here on Earth.

(nat sound: Norah Jones and Piers Sellers)
"Hi, I'm Norah Jones ... and I'm Piers Sellers.

And, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Norah Jones teams up with astronaut Piers Sellers on the second PSA. Jones and Sellers recorded their message in the NASA TV studio in Washington ...

(nat sound Norah Jones singing "America The Beautiful" at Congressional Medal Ceremony)
"Oh Beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain ..."

... after Jones' singing of "America the Beautiful" at the recent Congressional Gold Medal Awards ceremony on Capitol Hill.

(nat sound Norah Jones singing "America The Beautiful" at Congressional Medal Ceremony)
"From sea to shining sea ... (APPLAUSE)"

And while you ate Thanksgiving dinner and watched football on TV, NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin passed the irradiated ...

(nat sound: Dan Burbank, NASA Astronaut)
 "Smoked turkey ..."

thermostable yams and freeze-dried ...

(nat sound: Dan Burbank, NASA Astronaut)
"green beans, plenty of vegetables. Just like the Pilgrims ..."

Their International Space Station meal of thanks also included NASA's own ...

(nat sound: Dan Burbank, NASA Astronaut)
"cornbread dressing ... "

home-style potatoes ...

(nat sound: Dan Burbank, NASA Astronaut)
"and some cranberries. For dessert, what could be better than cherry-blueberry cobbler?"

And the best view from any Thanksgiving table anywhere.

And that's This Week @NASA.

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