NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Aug. 24

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Aug. 24
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This Week at NASA …

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Stennis Space Center for the new A-3 Test Stand. The 300-foot-tall, open steel frame structure will be used to test the J-2X engines they'll power the upper stages of NASA's Ares I and Ares V rockets. Ares I will launch the Orion spacecraft, taking astronauts to the International Space Station no later than 2015, then to the moon by 2020. The Ares V will carry cargo and components into orbit for trips to the moon and later to Mars. Stennis has been home to the Apollo-era test stands which have served the nation's space program through the shuttle era. The A-3 will be the first large test stand built at the center since the 1960s. Testing is scheduled to begin in late 2010.

NASA's Ikhana, a remotely-piloted Predator B aircraft, is flying a series of wildfire imaging missions over the western United States. A fire sensor developed at the Ames Research Center is collecting detailed thermal-infrared imagery of numerous wildfires. The imagery is downlinked directly to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Ikhana can collect data continuously for up to 20 hours. The Dryden Flight Research Center is Ikhana's home base.

Plans continue for the September launch of Dawn, NASA's next scheduled science mission. Dawn will travel to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Once there, the spacecraft will orbit two of the belt's largest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. These two objects are thought to hold clues about how planets in our solar system formed billions of years ago. Vesta is dry and rocky like the inner planets, while the dwarf planet Ceres is much like the icy moons of the outer solar system. Dawn will be the first spacecraft to orbit an object in the asteroid belt, and the first spacecraft to orbit two bodies after leaving Earth. Dawn is scheduled to begin its eight-year flight from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station no earlier than Sept. 26.

Google Earth has made 129 of the best images taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope available to the public in its new featured link “explore the sky.” This easy-to-use Internet tool enables users to view and navigate through 100 million individual stars and 200 million galaxies. High-resolution imagery and informative overlays about the Hubble images create a unique educational environment for visualizing and learning about space. Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute worked with Google programmers to assemble a tapestry of Hubble images for the desktop planetarium program.

Space shuttle Endeavour's successful STS-118 mission to the International Space Station has been the subject of education seminars at the Dryden Education Center in Palmdale, California. Sponsored by the education office of the Dryden Flight Research Center, the instructional seminars are aligned with state educational standards and provide teachers and students with materials related to STS-118 and the space shuttle program.

Forty-five years ago this week, the Mariner 2 spacecraft began its 3-and-a-half-month flight to Venus. On the way Mariner 2 measured the solar wind, interplanetary dust, solar flares and cosmic rays emanating outside the solar system. On December 14, 1962, Mariner 2 passed Venus for the first successful planetary flyby, revealing a planet with an extremely hot surface surrounded by cool clouds.

And that’s This Week At NASA!
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