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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, October 8, 2010
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This Week at NASA…

Launch Announcer: "3-2-1 fueling tower separates, booster ignition, and liftoff of the Soyuz Rocket as Alexander Kaleri, Scott Kelly and Oleg Skripochka begin their journey to the International Space Station."

Following several days of traditional pre-launch activities and preparations, the Expedition 25 crew successfully launched aboard a Soyuz rocket to begin its two-day journey to the International Space Station. Soyuz Commander Alexander Kaleri, and Flight Engineers Scott Kelly and Oleg Skripochka are joining forces aboard the complex with station Commander Doug Wheelock and Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Shannon Walker, all of whom have been in orbit aboard the complex since June.

Mark Kelly: "It was exciting to watch him rocket off into space one more time; it’s the third time I’ve seen him do this. He’s certainly having a really exciting time right now, especially that first eight-and-a-half minutes of a rocket ride into space is just an incredible experience, and it was great for all of us to get to see it."

Expedition 25 is the twenty-fifth long-duration mission to the International Space Station.

The United States Congress has approved the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010. The bill provides NASA with a clear path forward and helps put America’s space program on a more sustainable trajectory.

Rep. Bart Gordon: "NASA is investment in our future and the future of our children. The United States has been a global leader in space exploration and technology and innovation and our efforts over the remainder of the Congress should be aimed preserving that leadership position."

Provisions in the legislation will extend the life of the International Space Station, launch a commercial space transportation industry, develop path-breaking technologies, work to create thousands of new jobs and help inspire a new generation of Americans to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Rep. Pete Olson: "Today we take a step toward restoring the goals worthy of a great nation and in doing so we are saying to the men and women of NASA currently, and those that come that this nation still chooses to explore."

This is an image of a meteorite that was found and examined last month by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity. The meteorite was first revealed in images taken on Sept. 16. This close-up was captured eight days later by Opportunity’s panoramic camera. Inspection by a microscopic imager and spectrometer on the rover’s arm confirmed the rock to be a nickel-iron meteorite. Opportunity’s team has informally dubbed the find "Oileán Ruaidh" (ay-lan ruah), the Gaelic name for an island off the coast of northwestern Ireland.

And now Centerpieces…


"Okay so now we get into the more interesting part."

The Kepler Science Working Group met at the Ames Research Center to review the progress of the Kepler Mission and discuss its future plans. This international group of scientists convenes every three months to review data they’re getting from Kepler and devise strategies for sharing and distributing their discoveries.

Jon Jenkins: "I actually feel looking at the data like a boy at the seaside, picking up pretty shells and I’m fortunate to have all these experts, these astronomers and astrophysicists that look at these beautiful light curves that we’re producing and understand the scientific import of these light curves and make these grand discoveries that have never been made possible before by any other instrument or mission."

Kepler is on a three-and-a-half year mission to search for Earth-size planets in our galaxy. After one year in space, Kepler has collected more, and better, data than some researchers had expected. The spacecraft has already discovered several exoplanets much larger and hotter than Earth. Scientists hope to eventually find smaller, habitable planets with liquid water that could sustain life as we know it. The Kepler team has even more to celebrate this week. The software system devised at Ames for use by mission scientists to locate Earth-size exoplanets has been selected as the agency’s Software of the Year by NASA’s Software Advisory Panel. Kepler’s Science Operations Center software system is a suite of 22 custom-designed tools for processing, analyzing, and storing transit photometry and engineering data.

Family and friends of Kennedy Space Center employees were treated to a look, behind-the-scenes look during the 2010 Family and Take Our Children to Work Day Celebration.

Center facilities were opened so guests could learn about vehicle processing, launch operations and other center functions. Visitors toured the Orbiter Processing Facility, had an opportunity to meet an astronaut at the Launch Control Center, and walk inside the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building. A tour highlight was drive by launch pad 39A to see Space Shuttle Discovery poised for its targeted November 1 liftoff.

After undergoing a major overhaul and upgrades, the Boeing / NASA X-48B Blended Wing Body research aircraft has resumed flight tests at the Dryden Flight Research Center. The sub-scale, manta ray-shaped airplane is supporting NASA's Environmentally Responsible Aviation, or ERA, project. ERA aims to develop the technology needed to create quieter, cleaner, and more fuel-efficient airplanes for the future. The remotely piloted X-48B flew 80 test flights over three years in the project's first phase from July 2007 through March of this year.

From sea to shining sea, America’s national parks are home to some of the most breathtaking views on Earth. Now, NASA is helping the National Parks Service alert its millions of annual visitors to an attraction in the sky above their campsites.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of continuous human life, work and research on the International Space Station, NASA has added the coordinates for 500 national parks and seashores, historic sites, monuments, and wild and scenic rivers to its list of locations for which it calculates opportunities to see the ISS as it passes overhead. Free from urban light pollution, parks like Yosemite and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail can provide a much clearer view of the orbiting complex as it travels 200-plus miles above Earth. Park rangers will also publicize the information at campgrounds and various landmarks.

Check out sighting times in your area at Go to "realtime data" and click on "sighting opportunities."

And that's This Week at NASA!

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