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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, May 22
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This Week At NASA...
SPITZER "WARMS" TO NEW MISSION - JPL
After more than five-and-a-half years of probing the cool cosmos, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is entering its new, “warm” mission. Spitzer has run out of the liquid helium that’s kept its infrared instruments chilled. But the slightly-warmer telescope will still have two channels of its infrared array camera operating at full capacity, allowing Spitzer to continue unveiling the far, cold and dusty universe unobservable in visible wavelengths.
Doug Hudgins: "If you’re looking at regions that have a lot of gas and dust in it, for instance, the infrared radiation will penetrate much further through that material, whereas visible radiation would be blocked out."
Since its 2003 launch from Cape Canaveral, Spitzer has made countless breakthroughs in astronomy, including new insights into how stars are born, and the discovery of hundreds of massive black holes lurking in the darkness of space.
KEPLER ON THE HUNT - ARC
Launch Announcer: "3-2 engine start, 1-0, and liftoff of the Delta II rocket with Kepler."
Two-and-a-half months after its launch, the Kepler spacecraft has begun its search for other Earth-like worlds. Scientists and engineers have finished Kepler’s equipment checkouts and calibrations. The spacecraft will now spend three-and-a-half years staring at more than 100,000 stars in our Milky Way galaxy. Scientists hope Kepler’s cameras will detect telltale signs of planets that orbit in their sun-like stars’ "Goldilocks Zone:" not too hot, not too cold, but just right to have liquid water, a requirement for life as we know it.
ASIAN PACIFIC HERITAGE EVENT - MSFC
To celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the Marshall Space Flight Center held a special Lunch and Learn session on Cultural Diversity in Art. Featured lecturer was artist Caroline Wang, who also is manager of software assurance for the Ares I Upper Stage J-2X Engine. The award-winning artist grew up in Taipei, Taiwan and started painting at age 5. She joined NASA in 1980, but has continued her art, working primarily in watercolor and often painting on traditional silks, linen or rice paper.
Caroline Wang: "You see it’s not perfect, but it will be; I’ll show you."
This event was one of several at Marshall in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
ANNIVERSARY: ABLE & BAKER May 28, 1959 – HQ
Fifty years ago, on May 28, 1959, two monkeys became the first living beings to successfully return to Earth after traveling in space. A rhesus monkey named Able, and Miss Baker, a South American squirrel monkey, successfully traveled atop a Jupiter rocket to an altitude of 360 miles and 1700 miles downrange from the Eastern Space Missile Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Joe Guion: "So I steamed towards the direction of where it was supposed to be."
Joseph Guion commanded the U.S. Navy vessel that recovered the nose cone with the space-faring simians.
Joe Guion: "As soon as I picked it up out of the water, it was flying all over the place. The ship was rolling and the nose cone swung back and forth. And I was just hoping that nobody would get hurt."
After a lengthy battle with wind and waves, Guion’s crew finally got the nose cone safely on board. Whether its pair of passengers was safe remained to be seen.
Joe Guion: "We still didn’t know if the monkeys were alive ‘cause we didn’t have the telemetry. And so one technician ran up to the back end of it and plugged in and he says, ‘They’re alive!’ So everybody went ‘Yay!’ And that’s when I could finally say, ‘Ah!’ Relax."
Both monkeys were unharmed, having withstood 38 times the normal pull of gravity and a weightless period of about 9 minutes. Four days after the history-making flight, Able would succumb to an unrelated medical problem, while Miss Baker died in 1984 at the age of 27.
Joe Guion: "She got a medal from the ASPCA. It’s the first time the ASPCA actually recognized an animal experiment."
Able and Miss Baker's survival of speeds exceeding 10,000 miles per hour was the first step toward putting an American in space.
And that's This Week At NASA!
For more on these and other stories, log onto : www.nasa.gov
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