NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending August 8

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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending August 8
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This Week At NASA…

Data from soil samples collected and tested by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander continue to undergo close analysis by scientists. Sample findings from one lander science instrument suggest that a constituent of the Martian soil may be perchlorate, a highly oxidizing and toxic substance. Scientists are awaiting complementary results for perchlorate from a different instrument aboard Phoenix before drawing any conclusions.

Voice of Peter Smith: "We're about half way through the data collection phase. Started, but not yet complete, is the analysis and laboratory work with samples using our engineering model. After that would traditionally come the writing of science articles then peer review by scientists who are not involved in the project. We're still at the stage where multiple hypotheses are being examined. But even so, we have substantial evidence that our soil sample contain perchlorate."

Team scientists hope a clear understanding of what's in Martian soil will tell them whether the Red Planet does, or could ever have supported life as we know it.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff visited the Ames Research Center to see first-hand how NASA technology helps the nation respond to natural disasters. Chertoff witnessed a demonstration of Ames' hyperwall-2, a high-resolution visualization system that displayed images of the wildfires raging throughout California and the latest satellite images of tropical storm Edouard. The Secretary also learned how Ames' Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, DART, helps emergency respondents prepare for natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and fires.

NASA's Lunar Surface Manipulation System was demonstrated for reporters at the Langley Research Center. Controlled by a remote computer, the manipulator can lift and precisely position materials and items both large and small, from a lunar lander to a delicate scientific payload. Fresh from successful field tests on this lunar-like landscape in eastern Washington, the system was designed to help astronauts build and live in outposts on the moon.

Students in NASA's DEVELOP program gave their final presentations at Headquarters completing a busy summer of scientific endeavors. Whitney Crawford SOT. "I am a senior physics major from Spellman college and we are the Georgia Air Quality team." The DEVELOP program is conducted by NASA's Science Mission Directorate, DEVELOP extends science research to communities nationwide while mentoring future scientists. Teams of high school, college and graduate school students researched NASA science capabilities to determine how they could help understand and address specific local and regional concerns throughout the world, such as air and water quality. Their science measurements, advanced computer-generated visualizations and predictions are then shared with community leaders and policy makers. More than 150 ten-week DEVELOP internship programs are funded by NASA's Science Mission Directorate each year.

Forty-three seniors from high schools across Virginia participated in a week-long residential Academy hosted by the Langley Research Center. The Academy was the culmination of Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars, or VASTS, an intensive, three-month-long distance-learning program. Highlighting the week was a simulated human mission to Mars. The students planned how to reach, live and work in the unforgiving environment of the Red Planet. VASTS was sponsored by Langley and the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.


President Eisenhower: "This is President Eisenhower speaking. It is a great personal satisfaction to participate in this first experiment in communications."

Forty-eight years ago this week, on Aug. 12, 1960, President Eisenhower's recorded voice message was beamed to Echo 1 and back. A giant metal balloon, Echo 1 thus became the first successful communications satellite launched by NASA. Echo directed Eisenhower's address between Bell Lab scientists in New Jersey and their NASA counterparts at the Goldstone Tracking facility in California. During its eight year life in orbit, Echo 1 also relayed direct transcontinental and intercontinental telephone, radio and television signals.

And seventeen years later, on Aug. 12, 1977, the prototype space shuttle Enterprise made its first free flight. Two crews of astronauts, Fred Haise and Gordon Fullerton, and Joe Engle and Dick Truly, took turns flying the 75-ton spacecraft to free-flight landings. The approach and landing tests proved the orbiter could transition from space flight to a safe, controlled, precision landing on a conventional runway.

Want to learn more about NASA history?

Automa the robot: "Welcome to our celebration of NASA’s 50th anniversary."

The NASA website has a new multimedia experience that takes visitors on an interactive tour of the agency's first five decades of exploration. It combines current and historic video with state-of-the-art computer animation for a virtual World's Fair of NASA history. Each decade has a pavilion that hosts exhibits chronicling those ten years of challenges and achievements. Visitors get unique insight into NASA's 50 years of exploration and research, as well as a glimpse into the future.
Automa the robot: "It's the new millennium!"

Let Automa the robot guide your journey through NASA history, at

And that's This Week At NASA!

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