NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending December 05

NASA TV's This Week @NASA, Week Ending December 05
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This Week At NASA…



The winner of the 2008 Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge was recognized in a ceremony at NASA Headquarters.

A ceremonial check for $350,000 was presented to Armadillo Aerospace team leader, John Carmack, by Doug Comstock, director of NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program.

Mike Griffin: "Today we’re here to recognize the genius and the perspiration of Armadillo Aerospace."

Last October at the Las Cruces International Airport in New Mexico, a rocket-powered vehicle built by Armadillo Aerospace successfully lifted off vertically to a height of 50 meters, flew horizontally to a landing pad 100 meters away, landed safely after at least 90 seconds of time in the air, then repeated the flight. A lunar lander with these capabilities will be essential to ferry payloads and/or humans back and forth between lunar orbit and the moon's surface. The Lunar Lander Challenge is one of seven competitions designed to tap the nation's ingenuity in support of NASA’s goals and missions.

STS-119 – KSC
The STS-119 crew, led by Commander Lee Archambault, recently spent several days at the Kennedy Space Center familiarizing themselves with some of the equipment they’ll use on their mission to the International Space Station. The crew will deliver and install the S6 truss segment to complete the backbone of the ISS, enabling the station to double its crew capacity from three to six. The other members of the crew are pilot Tony Antonelli and mission specialists Joe Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Ricky Arnold and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata will remain on the station, replacing Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Sandy Magnus, who’ll return to Earth with the Discovery crew. STS-119 is slated to launch February 12.

In the Space Station Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center, workers check a payload item for the STS-127 mission. On that mission space shuttle Endeavour will deliver the Kibo laboratory’s Experiment Logistics Module-Exposed Section to the ISS. The ELM-ES is one of the final components of Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module. Experiments on Kibo include space medicine, biotechnology and Earth observations. Endeavour’s STS-127 mission is targeted to launch next May 15.

Workers at the Marshall Space Flight Center packed up a key component of the STS-128 mission to the ISS. The Materials Science Research Rack, or MSRR, is headed for the Kennedy Space Center; it’s scheduled for launch aboard space shuttle Atlantis next summer. The MSRR will be housed in the U. S. Destiny Laboratory Module. Astronauts will use the rack for researching how basic materials, such as metals, ceramics, semiconductor crystals and glasses are affected by microgravity. STS-128 is scheduled to begin July 30.

And STS-130 is still a year away, but workers at Kennedy’s Space Station Processing Facility are already preparing space shuttle Endeavour’s prime cargo for that mission. The Cupola module will be delivered and installed on the International Space Station by space shuttle Endeavour and its crew. Cupola, delivered in 2004 by the European Space Agency, will offer a 360-degree panorama of activities outside the station and spectacular views of the Earth. Cupola will also help astronauts on spacewalks. The final element of the space station core, Cupola is scheduled for launch on Endeavour's STS-130 mission targeted for Dec. 10, 2009.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has just completed its primary science phase. After a seven month journey to Mars and six months of aerobraking to reach its science orbit, MRO has spent two years seeking out the history of water on the Red Planet. It has captured extreme close-ups of the Martian surface, analyzed minerals, monitored daily global weather, and measured how much water and dust is in Mars’s atmosphere. MRO’s latest finding: Mars has “rhythm.” Climate cycles persisting for millions of years on ancient Mars left a record of rhythmic patterns in thick stacks of sedimentary rock layers, revealed in three-dimensional detail by MRO’s HiRISE camera.

Kevin Lewis: "One of the really exciting things is that these rocks we know now are essentially recording an archive of the past climate so someday we can go there and actually read the ancient history of Mars in the rocks. And, so, we know now that there is an archive existing on the planet that we could go look at to learn about the ancient climate."

And that's This Week At NASA!

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