NASA Podcasts

NASA TV's This Week @NASA, April 24
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This Week At NASA…

The STS-125 crew continues its preparation for next month’s mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Led by commander and veteran astronaut Scott Altman, Atlantis’s seven-member crew will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones and perform the component replacements expected to keep the telescope operational for at least five more years. To do that, five spacewalks will be performed during the 11-day mission. Leading the EVA team is self-proclaimed “Hubble hugger” John Grunsfeld.

John Grunsfeld: "When I was assigned to STS-103, my first Hubble mission, it was like finding the Holy Grail. As an astronomer this was a huge deal for me and the kind of thing I had dreamed about since I was 6 years old. When I finally got there in December of 1999, I was on the end of the robotic arm and within about a meter of Hubble and I really had one of those moments where I was…was kind of so thrilled that I just couldn’t believe it and found myself reaching out to touch Hubble -- and I literally did that with my finger -- to touch Hubble, to see if it was real. Of course, it was, and then it was down to work and for 8.5 hours we did nothing but work hard. But it was that one moment that really said this is just incredible, as an astronomer, to be able to work on the telescope like this."

Earth Day 2009 was celebrated around the agency with a variety of programs.

At the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., a special tree planting marked this Earth Day and this year’s 40th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing.

Deborah Gangloff: "Let’s plant a tree."

Alan Ladwig: "Well, it’s a pleasure to be here with our friends from the National Arboretum and the American Forests in planting this sycamore, the "moon tree," in honor of Earth Day 2009 and the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo program."

This sycamore is descended from seeds taken to the moon by the late astronaut Stuart Roosa on Apollo 14 in 1971. Later germinated on Earth by the U.S. Forest Service, the seeds grew into so-called “moon trees” and were planted throughout the United States. This second-generation "moon tree" is the first to be planted at the National Arboretum.

Alan Ladwig: "It was NASA photography that instilled the call to action, , that passion to pay attention to the planet. That photo that became known as Earthrise was taken in December of 1968 by the astronauts of Apollo 8. When Bill Anders snapped the, now iconic, photo he commented ‘we came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth.'"

Dryden Flight Research Center employees enjoyed educational displays and demonstrations about the center's involvement in environmental science. Under the theme "Living a Sustainable Life," the observance also featured a tree planting ceremony. On the Internet, the agency website’s "NASA at Home" and "NASA City" features were enhanced with interactive capabilities highlighting more than 100 NASA technologies -- and some 16-hundred products and innovations that make our lives better.

And, from 220 miles above, NASA Television broadcast views of Earth captured by cameras aboard the International Space Station.

In keeping with that green theme, the Ames Research Center and NASA Research Park hosted the 2009 Exploration and Sustainability Expo. Showcased were state-of-the-art “green” products and technologies, from electric cars, personal rapid transit systems and 21st century propulsion systems. The day-long event allowed Ames researchers to meet, network, and compare notes on “green” technology development with their research park partners and the Silicon Valley business community. More than 40 exhibits highlighted research and technology for a cleaner, greener Earth.

Michael Marlaire: "The expo is to actually show people what’s going on, on the cutting edge of technologies, so that people can see, ‘hey, here’s where new jobs and new careers could be based upon.'"

Jeff Smith: "We’ve got everybody coming together, scientists, researchers, engineers, high technology, things that are happening in your back yard, new green technology. All these groups are coming together and we’re having a really great interchange."

Near the Marshall Space Flight Center, the annual Student and University Launch Initiatives blasted off, with thirty-three student teams flexing their engineering muscles. Participants launched self-built, payload-ready rockets that climbed to an altitude of a mile, then returned safely to Earth. Sponsored by NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, the two-day event is designed to encourage young innovators to think like NASA engineers and aspire to become next generation contributors to the space program. NASA helped family, friends and rocket enthusiasts track the launches via Twitter and Facebook.

Employees of the Kennedy Space Center joined with colleagues from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to celebrate 2009 Family Day. Plenty of activities and exhibits informed and entertained families and friends. Included were drive-by tours of the shuttle launch pads, Atlas and Delta launch pads, the Air Force Museum, and the Shuttle Landing Facility.


STS-31 Launch Announcer: "3-2-1 and liftoff of the space shuttle Discovery with the Hubble Space Telescope, our window on the universe."

When STS-125 leaves for Hubble next month, it’ll be little more more than nineteen years after the telescope itself was launched aboard space shuttle Discovery on STS-31.

Since then, the telescope has provided thousands of astronomers access to the stars not possible from inside Earth’s atmosphere. Hubble has transformed scientists’ understanding and age of the universe -- 13 to 14 billion years. It has turned astronomical conjectures into certainties. Hubble has probed galaxies in all stages of evolution, and played a key role in the discovery of dark energy, a mysterious force that accelerates the expansion of the universe.

Last, but not least, it has provided millions here on Earth with pictures of other worlds we could never have imagined on our own.

And that's This Week @ NASA.

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