NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Nov. 9

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending Nov. 9
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This Week At NASA …

The STS-120 crew completed its fifteen-day mission to the International Space Station with a picture-perfect landing at the Kennedy Space Center.

Mission Announcer: "Main Gear Touchdown."

Expedition 15 Flight Engineer Clay Anderson, who had spent nearly five months aboard the station, returned with the crew.

"Open that hatch." "Beautiful."
"So you guys can go outside and play."
"We call it work, but we know better."

STS-120's primary task was to deliver the Harmony module to the Station.

"Well, Great day in outer space."
"That's pretty amazing."
"That's pretty cool."
"When I came through here, there wasn’t a Node Here."

But this mission will also be remembered for the repair of a torn solar array by spacewalker Scott Parazynski.

"That's how you do it."
"Yeah I saw your tug test."
"It looks good. Good job!"

Enabling its successful, full deployment.

"2-1 mark."
"Full rise in the tension bar."
Upon their return to Houston, the STS-120 crew got a surprise welcome home from President Bush. His schedule coincided with the crew's return, enabling the President to join them at Ellington Field to shake their hands for a job well done.

The success of STS-120 sets the stage for the next shuttle mission -- STS-122, which is targeted to begin Dec. 6. The STS-122 crew commanded by Steve Frick will carry the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory module to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Atlantis.

Astronomers have discovered a fifth exoplanet circling a nearby star. The star is Cancri 55, about 41 light years away in the constellation Cancer. With this fifth exoplanet, Cancri 55 holds the record for most confirmed planets in an extrasolar system. Cancri 55's planetary system is very similar to Earth's, with nearly the same mass and age as our sun. It's also easily visible with binoculars.

NASA engineers completed a successful test firing of a four-segment reusable solid rocket motor that will be used to launch the Orion crew vehicle on missions to the moon.

Test Engineers: "3-2-1-0."

The two-minute static firing provided important information for upcoming shuttle launches -- and the development of the Ares I. The motor burned for approximately 123 seconds, the same duration burn of solid rocket motors during a space shuttle launch. These tests evaluate proposed changes to the rocket motor and help determine whether new materials perform as well as those now in use.

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale was a keynote speaker at the California Space Authority's annual Transforming Space conference in Los Angeles. Joining Dale at the conference were representatives of NASA's three California Center. They participated in a panel discussion on the economic impact of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Dryden Flight Research Center and the Ames Research Center and available business opportunities at those centers. JPL, Dryden and Ames award annual contracts totaling more than $4 billion.

The Kennedy Space Center hosted the inaugural World Space Expo. For its debut, the expo celebrated NASA's first 50 years in space. Special appearances were made by astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter. Also highlighting the four-day event were spectacular aerial performances by the world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Hundreds turned out at Johns Hopkins University for a goodbye tribute to the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer or FUSE, the largest space mission ever operated by a university.

Launch announcer: "3-2-1 engine start, ignition, and liftoff of a Delta II rocket with the FUSE spacecraft to explore the origins of the universe."

The FUSE telescope made more than 3,800 celestial observations during its eight-year mission. Scientists used its high-resolution spectroscopy in the far ultra violet region to look for deuterium, an exotic form of hydrogen left over from the Big Bang. Other FUSE discoveries included confirming a halo of hot gas around our Milky Way, and that Mars's vanished ocean was about a hundred feet deep.

Host: "Dr. John Mather, please give him a warm Langley welcome."

NASA's first Nobel Prize winner, John Mather spoke to employees at the Langley Research Center on the history and future of the universe. A Nobel winner for his work on the Big Bang theory, Mather gave a second lecture to the public.

John Mather: "…We know the Big Bang is a pretty darn good explanation for what we see."

…both were titled, "Finding our Origins with the James Webb Space Telescope." In addition to his role as NASA Chief Scientist, Mather is the senior project scientist for the James Webb Telescope. Scheduled to launch in 2013, Webb will be the largest telescope ever placed in space.

Former astronaut John Herrington visited students and parents at a NASA Explorer School in North Hills, Calif. Herrington encouraged students at the Vintage Magnet School.

Herrington: "You want to be an astronaut -- you want to be a doctor -- whatever you want to be -- if you dream about it, okay, if you want to live your dream -- that's exactly what I'm doing." …to study math and science to prepare for careers in aeronautics and space. Vintage Magnet School is one of 25 schools selected to participate in the NASA Explorer Schools program this year. The program, operated nationally, helps educators and students from diverse communities join NASA's mission of discovery through educational activities and special learning opportunities.

The Johnson Space Center hosted its annual Ballunar Liftoff Festival. The three-day event was highlighted by balloon competitions, skydiving and arts and crafts exhibits. Thousands of visitors who attended this one-of-a-kind tribute to human flight also were treated to aviation equipment displays, food and entertainment.

And that's This Week At NASA!
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