NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Sept. 14

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Sept. 14
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This Week at NASA …

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin joined the director of the National Institutes of Health, Elias Zerhouni, in signing an historic memorandum of understanding. NASA sent Congress a plan in May describing how the U.S. segment of the International Space Station can be used as a national laboratory. This partnership will be the first agreement with NASA and another government agency to conduct research aboard the station.

Michael Griffin SOT: "We will not fail to make groundbreaking discoveries."

Following two months of sky-darkening dust that held up its progress, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity entered Victoria Crater. The rover team commanded Opportunity to drive just far enough into the crater to get all six wheels onto the inner slope, and then back out to see how much the wheels slipped on the slope. The Hokey Pokey was how the team described the maneuver. This was just the first dip into the crater that Opportunity will extensively explore.

NASA flew its remotely piloted Ikhana airplane with a payload of thermal imaging sensors over the Lick wildfire near Gilroy, Calif. The instruments saw through smoke and identified hot spots, flames and temperature differences. The data was sent via satellite to the Ames Research Center where the imagery was combined with Google Earth maps and placed on a website. There, fire incident commanders used the near real-time eye in the sky imagery to more effectively plan and direct how to combat the wildfire.

Michael Brown SOT: "24 hours ago, I was making "Xs" with a number two pencil on a photo copy of a quad map, but I had to hike up the mountain to get the "X" in the right place. Now, I’m going to go to bed and sleep all night because I can see the activity from the burnout, in real time, and have the confidence the plan is going."

Arizona's high desert is similar to the surface of the moon, a perfect place for RATS. NASA's Desert Rats, or Research and Technology Studies. First used by NASA in the 1960s to train Apollo astronauts for the first moon landings, this area northeast of Flagstaff served as this year's site for field testing of planetary rovers, robots and futuristic spacesuits that may be used for NASA's next missions to the moon, now planned to begin by 2020.

Barbara Romig SOT: "I think it’s really important what we’re doing out here with the Desert Rats testing. It's a stepping stone for us to get to the moon and then on to Mars, so I’m really excited about it."

NASA will mark its 50th anniversary on Oct. 1, 2008. To help commemorate this milestone, the agency has a new 50th anniversary logo. It was unveiled by NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale at WIRED Magazine's NextFest in Los Angeles.

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley spoke to education leaders from 18 states at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Alabama was selected by the National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices to host the educator conference because the state has become a model for improving math, science and technology education. The Marshall Center supports education activities across the state.

The seven space shuttle Endeavour astronauts who returned to Earth from STS118 were honored in a day of ceremonies at Walt Disney World. Among the festivities: the crew members served as honorary grand marshals of the afternoon parade down the Magic Kingdom's Main Street, U.S.A.

Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz became the first Hispanic-American in space when he launched aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on Jan. 12, 1986. The STS 61-C mission was a 6-day flight during which Chang-Dìaz participated in the deployment of the SATCOM KU satellite, conducted experiments in astrophysics and operated a materials processing laboratory. Chang-Diaz, who came to this country after high school with no more than 50 dollars in his pocket, participated in seven space flights, logging more than 1,600 hours in space.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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