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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, November 27
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This Week At NASA...

Launch Announcer: "We have Charlie Hobaugh flaring up the shuttle’s nose. Main gear touchdown!"

That’s how the STS-129 crew aboard space shuttle Atlantis concluded its successful eleven-day mission. The six crew members brought up almost 14 tons of spare equipment and supplies for storage on the International Space Station. They also brought home astronaut Nicole Stott after her three months on the orbiting complex.

Charlie Hobaugh: "Nicole came back with us. She’s doing great. We truly had an amazing mission. It was not us. It was not any single group but it was an incredible team from all the around the nation."

One STS-129 crew member was especially eager to get home. Mission Specialist Randy Bresnik passed out pink bubble gum cigars to his fellow flyers after learning that his wife Rebecca had given birth to Abigail Mae Bresnik while he orbited Earth. Bresnik also displayed a pink infant bodysuit sporting the STS-129 crew logo.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City hosted a special celebration commemorating the 40th anniversary of Apollo and the retired ship’s role in NASA history. Not only did Intrepid serve proudly in World War II and Vietnam; it also was a recovery vessel for the Mercury and Gemini missions.

Serving as a guest presenter was NASA Deputy Administrator, Lori Garver.

Lori Garver: "Probably when we go to Mars it will be to do something together as a planet. What a wonderful balance for the space program to do that."

Astronaut and native New Yorker Mike Massimino regaled a rapt crowd with stories of his space experiences.

Mike Massimino: "Viewing the earth from up there in space is such a unique opportunity."

And Nancy Conrad, widow of Apollo 12 commander Pete Conrad, was part of a special NASA innovation and inspiration panel. The lunar module in which her husband and astronaut Alan Bean touched down on the moon November 19, 1969, was also named "Intrepid."

Nancy Conrad: "One of the favorite things that Pete used to say and just I’ll share this with you is yeah, we went to the moon, but when we did we really discovered earth."

The three-day event was part of Kid’s week in which NASA has played a role since 2003. The Intrepid Museum and pier attracts more than three-quarters of a million visitors each year.


Astronaut: "Look under your finger there on that cable itself, right about where you left thumb is."

Better flexibility in space gloves can help astronauts perform tasks during spacewalks. And increasing their flexibility is something for which NASA continually strives.

A pair of designers who developed concepts for space gloves more flexible than those currently used by NASA have been awarded 350-thousand dollars in the agency’s Astronaut Glove Challenge.

Competitors demonstrated their design by performing a range of tasks with the glove in a pressurized chamber. The 2007 Glove Challenge winner, Peter Horner of Southwest Harbor, Maine, again took home the top prize, 250-thousand dollars. Second place winner Ted Southern of Brooklyn, N.Y garnered $100,000.

The Astronaut Glove Challenge is one of six Centennial Challenges prize competitions aimed at developing new aerospace technologies valuable to NASA's missions. Independent teams, individual inventors, student groups and private companies of all sizes are encouraged to compete in order to find innovative solutions to technical challenges.

Students at Texas Southern University in Houston deliberately spread germs around the globe. As part of a study of how microbes grow in microgravity, the school’s Center for Bio-nanotechnology and Environmental Research sent samples of E. coli and B. subtilis bacteria into orbit aboard space shuttle Atlantis to evaluate any changes these substances might undergo.

The experiment allowed students to design, monitor and execute the study in laboratories, as well as near real-time on the space shuttle.

Chelsea McCoy: "We work with microorganisms and we’re going to study the effects that microgravity has on the microorganisms in space. I really enjoyed this experiment because usually with science we’re always reading in textbooks, always studying, and always taking tests but, for once, we actually got to have a hands-on scientific experience."

Components of the study can be easily reproduced in the classroom. Collected data will be used to create grade-appropriate microbiology modules for students K-12.

Texas Southern University is a NASA University Research Center, part of a program to enhance research infrastructure at minority institutions and to stimulate student interest in science, technology, engineering and math.


Conference Speaker: "He said when he said when you go up there, tell those people that this global warming, all this heat, that the sun has nothing to do with it."

NASA hosted a special workshop about the effects of climate change and extreme weather on native peoples and their homelands. The four-day event, held on the Shakopee-Mdewakanton Indian Reservation outside Minneapolis, was designed to involve tribal colleges and universities in the development of policies and strategies that’ll ensure the survival of indigenous communities threatened by environmental change.

NASA conducted the workshop in collaboration with the nation's 36 tribally-controlled colleges and universities, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, and other partners.

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or Wise, is slated to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California December 9th to survey the entire sky in infrared light. NASA's newest spacecraft will circle Earth over the poles, scanning the entire sky one-and-a-half times in nine months. Up to hundreds of thousands of times more sensitive than its predecessors, Wise is expected to uncover hidden cosmic objects, including the coolest stars, dark asteroids and the most luminous galaxies. Amy Mainzer is deputy program manager.

Amy Mainzer: "WISE is an all-sky infrared survey, so you can kind of think of it as the Google map to the universe. In addition to finding some of the most distant objects in the universe, it’s also going to find some of those that are closest to our own homes."

Wise’s scheduled launch time on December 9th is 9:09 a.m. EST.

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