NASA Podcasts

This Year @ NASA, 2010 (Part 2)
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For NASA, 2010 was another year of new exploration, exciting discoveries, and important milestones.

From spaceflight, to science and technology; from understanding life here on Earth, to where we might find it somewhere else; from protecting our home planet, to inspiring the next generation of explorers.

This was "This Year at NASA."


NASA scientists drilling through the thick ice of Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf last November didn't expect to see this shrimp-like thing swimming underneath. The creature, a three-inch long Lyssianasid amphipod, was captured 600 feet below the West Antarctic ice sheet by a borehole camera lowered through the ice. This was the view looking upwards. The critter was about 12-and-a-half miles away from open water. Scientists say this is the first time such a sophisticated life form was found in this type of sub-glacial environment.

Scientists now believe Earth's nearest neighbor Venus is more like our planet than they previously thought. New findings based on pictures and infrared imagery captured by the European Space Agency's Venus Express mission and NASA's Magellan spacecraft confirm that Venus is not a cold rock but a dynamic host of active volcanoes like those found in Hawaii.

Sue Smrekar : "The fact that we have discovered this volcanism that's pretty recent on the surface of Venus definitely moves us toward a picture of Venus where it continues to have volcanism today and, in a lot of ways, is more like the earth than we had imagined."

Relatively young lava flows within the last 3 million years have been identified by their emissions of infrared radiation. These observations suggest Venus is still capable of volcanic eruptions. Venus Express has been in orbit around the planet since April 2006.

The first images are in from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, and scientists who study the sun say they are a stunning treasure trove of data about Earth's star.

Dick Fisher : "The first images are now in hand and these are truly spectacular and they show the details of our sun that have not been available to us before in a comprehensive and multidimensional manner."

Launch Announcer: "Ignition and lift-off of the Atlas-5 with the Solar Dynamics Observatory."

Launched on Feb. 11, 2020, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. SDO's images confirm an unprecedented new capability for heliophysicists to better understand our sun's dynamic processes and how and why these solar activities affect everything on earth.

William Borucki : "This discovery is just astounding."

After continually monitoring the brightness of more than 156,000 stars, NASA's Kepler team has released the first 43 days of science data…

William Borucki : "This is the biggest release of candidate planets that has ever happened. The number of candidate planets is actually greater than all the planets that have been discovered in the last 15 years."

Launch Announcer: " 3-2-engine start—1, zero, and lift off of the Delta II Rocket with Kepler."

Since its launch on March 6, 2009, Kepler has been on the hunt to find planets similar in size to our Earth, especially those in the habitable zone of stars where liquid water and possibly life might exist.

New observations by the Hubble Space Telescope's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), confirm the existence of a giant scorched planet traveling extremely close to its star. Named HD 209458b, it's being called by astronomers a "cometary planet" because it has the components of a planet - but with a trailing tail like a comet, possibly the result of strong stellar winds sweeping off its super heated atmosphere.

Eric Smith : "Mass is being stripped of at the rate of about 100,000 cars per second. So, a typical big car plant on the Earth might make 100, 200, 300-thousand cars a year. That's how many they're making. This planet is losing that much mass per second."

HD 209458B is 153 light years from Earth, weighs slightly less than Jupiter, and speeds around its star in about 3 and1/12 days, which means one of our weeks is equal to two of its years.

The EPOXI mission spacecraft made its planned flyby of comet Hartley 2 – and the pictures it sent back to investigation team members at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory did not disappoint.

"Deep Impact," so named for the 2005 mission it initially served as the "in-flight" spacecraft, flew by Hartley 2 about 435 miles above its surface, close enough to image the heart of the comet, its nucleus.

Mission Announcer : "Congratulations on a fantastic flyby. Good job everybody!"

Michael Ahearn : "The data we have, I am convinced, the comic Hartley will have increased our knowledge of how comments work by at least three Hartleys. The Hartley is a real unit of information and three Hartley's is about a factor of ten."

Charles Bolden : "I always like to tell people that you all are incredible ambassadors as you're there representing just two of the many nations that are partners in the International Space Station. What you do is actually a modern-day Star Trek, if you will; kids are excited about watching you."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden helped mark the tenth anniversary of a continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station by discussing life aboard the complex with its current residents, the Expedition 25 crew.

Doug Wheelock : "Everyday there's new excitement and new adventure as we venture out with some of the science that we're doing. And, of course, being here in space never ceases to amaze us of the surprises it has in store for us."

Expedition 25 Commander Doug Wheelock and Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri, Oleg Skripochka, Scott Kelly, Fyodor Yurchikhin, and Shannon Walker are the latest of almost 200 men and women who, over the past decade, have called the ISS home while away from Earth.

Charles Bolden : "I want to thank you for what you've done and for what you represent, and congratulate you on being the occupants of the station as we celebrate its tenth anniversary."

Soil inside shadowy craters on the moon is rich in useful materials. That's one of the findings by NASA scientists after analyzing the impact plume created by the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission last year. The lunar soil also showed that the moon is chemically active and has a water cycle.

Anthony Colaprete : "There are a variety of sources, either comets or the solar wind, and these sources are coming to the moon and then, once at the moon, this water is migrating, moving around the moon and finding its way to various places, like the cold craters. But it doesn't stop there. Once in the cold craters, there's chemistry going on that's further changing these compounds, having them interact with each other and resulting in this mix of water and other things."

LCROSS collected invaluable data as it flew through the debris kicked up by the crash of its Centaur rocket's spent upper stage into a permanently-shadowed region of a lunar crater on October 9, 2009.


The first, full-scale, friction stir welded and spun-formed tank dome was unveiled by NASA and its partners at a special ceremony at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Lesa Roe "It's terrific to be here in person to publicly thank this team and to recognize the great efforts that come out of this work over the last four-to-five years. It's been a terrific effort."

Tank domes are a necessary component in fuel tanks for securing liquid propellant.

The 18-foot prototype was developed using cutting-edge manufacturing techniques that, by eliminating complex welding, machining and inspection steps, are proving more reliable and less expensive. They can create domes for any large liquid propellant tank.

A six-member team of aquanauts is testing exploration concepts off Florida's east coast in the difficult and often dangerous work environment of the ocean.

During the 14-day undersea mission, the NEEMO crew lives and works aboard the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, where they'll perform life science experiments on human behavior, performance and physiology. They'll also venture out into the depths to simulate spacewalks, and operate and maneuver mockups of vehicles future space explorers might use in setting up a habitat on another planet.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, has conducted its "First Light" mission, producing this composite infrared image of Jupiter. A recent visual-wavelength picture of approximately the same side of Jupiter is shown for comparison. The white stripe in the infrared image is a region of relatively transparent clouds through which the warm interior of Jupiter can be seen. Recording the imagery was the recently-installed Faint Object Infrared Camera, or FORCAST. FORCAST will be used to study celestial objects such as planets and star-forming regions.

A camera aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has helped develop the most accurate global Martian map ever. And not only can researchers access the map – so, can the public, explore and survey the entire surface of the Red Planet as well.

The map is made from nearly 21,000 images taken by the Thermal Emission Imaging System, THEMIS, a multi-band infrared camera on Odyssey. The pictures have been smoothed, matched, blended and cartographically controlled to make a giant mosaic. Users can pan and zoom into the images, with some of the smallest surface details just 330 feet wide. Researchers at Arizona State University's Mars Space Flight Facility and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been compiling the map since THEMIS began observations eight years ago.


NASA's next-generation, five-segment solid rocket development motor -- or DM-2 – was fired in its test stand at ATK's facility in Promontory, Utah. The successful cold motor test was completed in less than three minutes and was designed to advance the understanding, safety, technology and capability of solid rocket motors. The DM-2's overall temperature was lowered to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to validate the motor's performance in cold weather -- in contrast to the DM-1 testing which was conducted at ambient temperature.

Alex Priskos: "This was a cold test, which is one of the most severe and tough environments for a solid rocket booster to undergo, and it looks like the motor performed brilliantly."



NASA is bringing the public one step closer to the universe through a partnership with Gowalla. The mobile web application lets users check-in via smart phone as they visit a location. When users visit a NASA-related venue, such as the Kennedy Space Center or here at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, they'll be awarded a virtual NASA item, such as moon rocks or a space shuttle. Gowalla users collecting enough of these items will qualify for the chance to win a special limited edition NASA/Gowalla map.

The virtual items will be "available" at NASA visitor centers and at more than 400 museums, science centers, observatories, and other NASA Museum Alliance members.

To view the NASA/Gowalla map and connect with NASA and @Astro_Mike on Gowalla and other social media applications, visit:


Brenda Manuel, NASA Associate Administrator for Diversity and Equal Opportunity, was honored by the Society of Women Engineers as this year's recipient of the group's President's Award. A lawyer by training, Manuel was recognized for her longtime encouragement of women to pursue careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

STS-125, the fifth space shuttle servicing mission that gave the Hubble Space Telescope a new lease on life, and L-CROSS, the mission that definitively proved the presence of water on the moon, received awards from the Space Foundation at its 26th annual National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

"The award this year goes to the Hubble Telescope repair team and the repair mission team."

For program success in the evolution of space exploration and development, the STS-125 crew of Commander Scott Altman, Pilot Greg Johnson and Mission Specialists Drew Feustel, Mike Good, John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino and Megan McArthur received the Foundation's annual Space Achievement Award.

LCROSS team member: "On behalf of the entire Hubble Servicing team I'd like to thank the space foundation."

The LCROSS mission team was presented with the 2010 John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., award for Space Exploration. Established in 2004, the annual award is a tribute to the late Coloradan and his enduring legacy of space exploration as a member of the Apollo 13 mission. LCROSS crashed one spacecraft into the moon; another, following minutes behind, found the water by analyzing the debris kicked up after the impact.

LCROSS team member: "Thank you very much. I must admit this is somewhat surreal for LCROSS team. I feel like the independent film winning the best picture at the Academy Awards."

John Callas: "We've explored deep craters, we've climbed mountains, we've survived rover-killing dust storms and several harsh cold winters. The adventure is still not over for these two intrepid vehicles."

The team that operates the NASA rovers already on Mars Spirit and Opportunity was honored by the Space Ops organization with its 2010 Award for Outstanding Achievement. The presentation was made at the group's annual conference held in Huntsville, Alabama.

John Callas: "My team, the team that has earned this, goes to work on Mars every single day. I have the great pleasure of being up here to accept this award, but it really is award that goes to not only the ten people listed on the certificate, but the hundreds of people that have contributed and continue to contribute on this really great project. Thank you all very much."

NASA's International Space Station Program has been awarded the 2009 Collier Trophy, considered aviation's highest honor. The National Aeronautic Association, the country's oldest national aviation organization, bestowed the prestigious award on the ISS team not only for its design, development and assembly of the world's largest spacecraft, but also for the complex's promising discoveries and pioneering new standards for international cooperation in space.

Accepting the award on behalf of the ISS team was NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver.

Lori Garver : "I truly am standing on the shoulders of giants.

Garver was also among a group of NASA women honored by Women in Aerospace at the organization's 25th annual awards dinner held near Washington. She was recognized for her contributions to WIA, as well as, quote, her passion and dedication to opening the high frontier of space to the everyday person.

"Main engine ignition and lift off of the Atlas 5 rocket with LRO/LCROSS."

NASA's Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, mission has won Popular Mechanics magazine's 2010 Breakthrough Award for innovation in science and technology.

"Last packet 11-35-35.054 seconds."

On time and under budget, (nat) the LCROSS team confirmed the presence of water ice on the moon, by slamming into the lunar surface the spent upper stage of the spacecraft's Atlas V rocket, then flying through the resultant degree plume to detect concentrations of water comparable to those of the Sahara desert. Fabricated with commercial off-the-shelf parts, the LCROSS spacecraft was cited by Popular Mechanics for setting "a new standard for lost-cost, high impact NASA programs


It began as a 90-day mission, but NASA's Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, roamed for more than six years to gather and return unprecedented science from the Red Planet. Now, impossibly stuck in a sand trap, Spirit has been designated a stationary science platform after efforts during the past several months to free it have been unsuccessful.

Doug McQuistion - "With the loss of mobility on Spirit, people are disappointed. These have really become public icons, globally, not just in the United States. Even children, easily, identify with the rovers; they're cute, and they give you a human's eye view of the surface of another planet for the first time."

The John Glenn Lecture Series at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington honored the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission. Joining Commander Jim Lovell was Apollo 13 Flight Controller, Gene Kranz; Lunar Module Pilot, Fred Haise; and astronaut Ken Mattingly, who was replaced on the mission by the late Jack Swigert after contracting measles just before the mission's start.

In April 1970, Apollo 13 was to have been NASA's third moon landing. But Lovell and crew would never make it to the lunar surface. On the way to their destination, the Apollo 13 spacecraft was crippled by the explosion of an oxygen tank, casting doubts about their survival.

Apollo 13 crew: "Houston, we've had a problem."

Gene Kranz, Apollo 13 Flight Controller: "We didn't know it was an explosion at that time. The majority of my controller's data was absolute gibberish. The numbers of calls that came in literally about a 30 second period as each controller was reporting what he thought he was seeing in the console, but truly didn't believe it , couples with what the crew was calling, it was literally chaos. The fortunate thing was the training kicked in a after about 60 seconds."

Thus began the crew's perilous but safe return to Earth, made possible through the heroic efforts of the ground control team and the astronauts themselves. Apollo 13 has been called a "successful failure" and one of NASA's finest hours.

HST LAUNCH 20th ANNIVERSARY - April 24, 1990 – HQ/STSci
Launch Announcer: "-2-1 and liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery with the Hubble Space Telescope, our window on the universe."

On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Since then, the observatory orbiting 350 miles above Earth has produced hundreds of thousands of unprecedented images of different corners of the universe.

Ed Weiler : "Not many humans get to work on things that a hundred years from now history will remember, Hubble is certainly one of them."

Named after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, the telescope's gaze has helped determine the age of the universe, the identity of quasars, and the existence of dark energy. Hubble is one of NASA's most successful and long-lasting science missions, shedding light on many of the great mysteries of astronomy.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, is the new robotic record-holder for longevity on the Red Planet. Opportunity surpassed the duration mark set by NASA's Viking Lander I of six years and 116 days operating on the surface of Mars.

John Callas : "Spirit has likely passed that record, but right now Spirit is deeply asleep, so we haven't heard from the rover in about two weeks, but once she wakes up she'll reclaim the title as the longest lived asset on the surface of Mars."

Cheered on by hundreds of handkerchief-waving employees to the strains of a traditional New Orleans brass band the last external fuel tank scheduled to fly on a space shuttle mission was rolled away from the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans in preparation for its 900-mile sea journey to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The tank, designated ET-138, was completed by Lockheed Martin workers on June 28.

12,000 DAYS – JPL
For nearly 33 years, Voyager 2 has returned data about the giant outer planets, making important discoveries like Neptune's Great Dark Spot and its 1,000-mph winds. On June 28, Voyager 2 reached an operations milestone – 12,000 days.

When Voyager 2 launched on August 20, 1977Jimmy Carter was president. Its twin, Voyager 1, launched about two weeks later on Sept. 5, 1977; Built and managed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Voyagers 1 and 2 are the most distant human-made objects, traveling the outer edges of the heliosphere -- the bubble the sun creates around the solar system.

NASA Anniversary: MRO LAUNCH, August 12, 2005

Launch Announcer: "Ignition and liftoff of the Atlas V rocket with MRO."

Five years ago, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched in search of evidence that water persisted on the surface of Mars over a prolonged period of time. Previous Mars missions indicated that, at some point in the Red Planet's history, water flowed across its surface. Throughout the years, MRO has continued to analyze minerals, look for water, trace the distribution of dust in the atmosphere and monitor Martian weather.

The Marshall Space Flight Center marked its 50th anniversary with multiple events honoring the work of several generations.

Marshall Space Flight Center leaders unveiled an Alabama historic marker commemorating the formation of the NASA center -- and the subsequent 50 years of Marshall innovation. The marker was placed at the visitor's center for Redstone Arsenal, Marshall's home for the past 50 years.

To commemorate the historic anniversary, Marshall employees posed for an aerial photograph, by forming a giant "50."

On Sept. 8, 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower visited Huntsville to lead the Marshall Center's dedication ceremony.

President Dwight Eisenhower : "I dedicate this, the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. May this great center be ever worthy of its honored name."

He unveiled a bust of the center's namesake, U.S. Army Gen. George C. Marshall, who received the Nobel Prize in 1953 for overseeing the European Recovery Program or "Marshall Plan," which secured $13 billion dollars in post-war food, machinery and other aid for Europe.

Two historic milestones have been marked at the Kennedy Space Center -- the arrival of the Space Shuttle Program's final external fuel tank, and the departure of the program's final solid rocket boosters from the Assembly and Refurbishment Facility.

The external fuel tank for STS-134, the final planned shuttle flight, was removed from the barge that carried it 900 miles over six days at sea from the Michoud Assembly Facility. STS-134 is scheduled for launch next February.

A series of roundtables kicked off NASA's commemoration of the 10th anniversary of human life, work and research on the International Space Station. The events, originating from three NASA centers and headquarters in Washington, aired on NASA Television and featured former space station residents, key leaders and team members who have guided the station through its first 10 years.

Among them, Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd and Flight Engineers Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko, who became the first residents of the space station on Nov. 2, 2000.

Bill Shepherd : "It was kind of a strange day for me because Sergei and Yuri were very experienced. I was pumping my fist mostly because, as a crew, we'd waited a long time to get to that point in life where this was actually happening and I was very keen to emphasize, let's go get this done."

Sergei Krikalev : "The main thought I had was that now it's starting for real and launching the Expedition, this is our first work and oftentimes the way you start it, it's the way it's going to go next."

Since Expedition 1, 200 explorers have visited the International Space Station; 15 nations have contributed modules and hardware; and more than 600 experiments have been conducted aboard the orbiting complex.



Yuri's Night 2010 celebrated humankind's achievements in space exploration with music, dance, fashion, and art at countless locations around the world, including several NASA centers.

Yuri's Night is named for the first human in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who rocketed into Earth's orbit on April 12, 1961.

Hundreds of students from middle schools, high schools, and colleges representing 20 states were in northern Alabama for the annual Space Launch Initiative, or LaunchFest.

Each year, NASA challenges young, aspiring rocketeers from around the country to design and build these launch vehicles complete with a working science payload, then send them aloft, here at LaunchFest, to an altitude of one mile.

Huntsville's U.S. Space & Rocket Center hosted the 17th annual Great Moonbuggy Race.

Competing were upwards of 600 student drivers, engineers and mechanics representing more than 70 teams from 18 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, India and Romania.

Competitor: "We got around the obstacle; we had a flat on our tire, and the chain was slipping. I burnt a lot of energy out there, but I never gave up."

For more, log onto Happy Holidays – and see you next year!
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