NASA TV's This Year @NASA

NASA TV's This Year @NASA
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This Week At NASA…

From the exploration of space and the Universe, to understanding Earth’s environment; from cutting-edge research, to community involvement; from education to inspiration. NASA owes its mission success to thousands of dedicated men and women at the agency’s headquarters and ten centers nationwide: Ames, Dryden, Glenn, Goddard, the Jet Propulsion Lab, Johnson, Kennedy, Langley, Marshall, and Stennis. In 2008, their ongoing achievements were underscored by numerous events marking NASA’s 50th anniversary. We now look back at the top stories of This Year @ NASA.

January 2008

Narration: In January…

*ICE LOSS - Narration: "Antarctic Ice Loss continues"

*HOT LAPS – Narration: "An astronaut marks 50 at Daytona"

*FINAL FLIGHT - Narration: "And a Long-time Research pilot retires"

A team of scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of California, Irvine, have found that ice loss in Antarctica increased by 75 percent over the past 10 years. A speed-up in the flow of its glaciers is to blame, mostly due to warmer ocean waters. Antarctic ice loss is now almost equal to that seen in Greenland.

NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel took a few "hot laps" at Daytona International Speedway in NASCAR’s Preseason Thunder Fan Fest. Feustel's appearance was in celebration of NASA’s 50th anniversary and the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008. Feustel, who took his laps in an official Daytona track car, will be part of the Hubble Servicing Mission crew.

Former astronaut and long-time research pilot C. Gordon Fullerton has retired after 38 years with NASA. Fullerton, who began his flying career with the Air Force in 19-58, made his final flight in a NASA F/A-18 at the Dryden Flight Research Center. Fullerton, and fellow research pilot Jim Smolka, flew a formation aerobatics flight with two other jets before concluding his career with two low-level formation flyovers.

Fullerton served on the support crews of four Apollo lunar missions, helped test the space shuttle prototype and was part of the crew of two shuttle missions -- STS-3 in 1982 and STS-51F in 1985. Since leaving the astronaut corps in 19-86, Fullerton has been with Dryden's flight crew branch, where he served as project pilot on many high-profile research programs.

Fullerton, 71, was honored with a water-cannon spray by the Edwards Air Force Base fire department as he taxied the F/A-18 up to the Dryden ramp. During his long career, Fullerton logged more than 16,000 flight hours.


Narration: "In February…"

*HOME AND READY - Narration: "STS-122 Safely Touches down as Endeavour revs up"

*STROKE STUDY – Narration: "NASA partners to support stroke research"

*SWIFT SWIMSUITS- Narration: "Wind tunnel research speeds competitive swimming"

*SATELLITE SERENADE – Narration: "And the Beatles sing across the universe"

As the STS-122 came to a successful end with the landing of shuttle Atlantis… MISSION CONTROL: "Main Gear Touch Down…."

Space shuttle Endeavour is in place on launch pad 39A, being readied for mission STS-123. Endeavour will carry the pressured segment of the Kibo Japanese Experiment Logistics Module, plus Spacelab Pallet – 1 which will be deployed by Dextre, Canada’s Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator. STS-123 is commanded by Dom Gorie.

The National Space Science and Technology Center at Marshall has teamed up with the University of Alabama Birmingham on a special health study. The study funded by the National Institute of Health is called REGARDS -- Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke. More than 30-thousand people are being surveyed with the primary focus on African-Americans because of their higher risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and stroke. Using NASA remote-sensing satellite data, UAB hopes to learn more about the impact of air quality, heat indexes, temperature, humidity, and other environmental elements on the diseases and conditions targeted in the study.

At the Langley Research Center, aerospace engineer Steve Wilkinson did some wind tunnel testing of a very different nature. At the request of swimsuit manufacturer, Speedo, Wilkinson has run a selection of more than 60 fabrics through a small window tunnel to test for “drag,” or hydrodynamic resistance. The idea, of course, was to identify which materials have lower “drag” to increase competitive swimmers’ times.

Steve Wilkinson, NASA Aerospace Engineer: "…About 30 to 35% of the drag, the restraining force on a swimmer as they move through the water, is due to what we call viscous drag and that’s what we’re simulating in this tunnel."

For decades, Langley drag reduction research has been used for spacecraft, aircraft, and even America’s Cup boats and now swimsuits will benefit from this technology. Langley will test 60 more fabrics for Speedo over the next two years.

Segue gfx UPDATE
Narration: "Story Update."

Announcer: "Swimmers take your mark."

Swimmers wearing a new racing suit developed with NASA’s help are breaking world records at a blistering pace.

Announcer: "A new world record" (applause/cheers)

The Speedo LZR racing suit was unveiled in February and since then, 40 of the 44 new world’s records were set by athletes wearing it.


(Beatles singing Across the Universe sound up then under)

"Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe"

The Deep Space Network Control Room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was the scene of an historic musical event. The Beatles’ song, ‘Across the Universe,’ was beamed by the DSN towards the North Star, Polaris, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of its writing. The transmission by the DSN’s satellites at Goldstone, California, Madrid, Spain, and Canberra, Australia, also celebrated NASA’s 50th anniversary, the launch of Explorer 1 50 years ago, and the 45th anniversary of the Deep Space Network. ‘Across the Universe,’ moving at 186,000 miles per second, will take 431 years to reach Polaris.

(Beatles singing Across the Universe sound up then under )

"are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me"

MARCH 2008

Narration: "In March…"

*EASY AS (STS) 123 - Narration: “Mission STS-123 delivers Dextre & installs Kibo”
*FULL-SCALE FABRICATION – Narration: "The Ares-1X goes on display"

*SUN SHIELD STUDIED – Narration: "And a design review for a James Webb telescope component is completed"


Commentator: "Main Gear touchdown…"

The STS-123 crew returned safely to Earth after completing a 16-day journey of nearly 6-and-a-half million miles in space aboard space shuttle Endeavour. The crew commanded by Dom Gorie landed safely at the Kennedy Space Center on March 26th. The mission highlights include the delivery of the Japanese Kibo module and the installation of Canada’s DEXTRE robot.

Michael Griffin: "I can’t Imagine that the mission could of gone any better, and they made it look easy."

STS-123 was the longest shuttle mission to the ISS and included a record five spacewalks. Joining Gorie on the mission were pilot Greg Johnson, and mission specialists Bob Behnken, Mike Foreman, Rick Linnehan, Garrett Reisman and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takao Doi. Reisman remained aboard the space station, replacing Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Léopold Eyharts, who returned with the Endeavour crew.

A full-scale element of NASA's Ares I-X rocket was on display at the Glenn Research Center. The simulated element represents the size, outer shape and mass of the second stage of the Ares I rocket. Members of the media were invited to climb inside the 18-foot wide, 45-foot tall simulation of the Ares I upper stage, which was designed and manufactured at Glenn. They also received a tour of Glenn’s Fabrication Shop, where this launch vehicle demonstrator was created. A test launch and flight of the Ares I-X is scheduled for April 2009. It will be a critical milestone in the development of NASA's Constellation Program to send astronauts back to the moon.

The preliminary design review for the tennis court-sized sunshield for the James Webb Space Telescope has been completed. The telescope is NASA’s next-generation space observatory. It’s designed to explore phenomena from distant galaxies to nearby planets and stars, from the origins of the universe to the formation of star systems capable of supporting life on planets such as Earth. The Webb telescope will give scientists unprecedented access to unexplored regions of space.

Dr. Harvey Moseley: "The James Webb Telescope is going to be the preeminent scientific tool for the nation in space over the next decade or so."

Segue gfx UPDATE
Narration: "Story Update."

The first of 18 mirror segments that comprise NASA's James Webb Space Telescope arrived at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The segments will be tested at the center’s X-ray & Cryogenic Facility or (XRCF) to determine how they will hold up in the extreme temperatures of space. The XRCF is the world’s largest X-ray telescope test facility and a unique, cryogenic, clean room optical test facility. Cryogenic testing will take place in a 7,600 cubic foot helium cooled vacuum chamber. The mirror components will be cooled from room temperature to a frigid -414 degrees Fahrenheit. As the temperature decreases, engineers will precisely measure the sections' structural stability to ensure they'll perform as designed once in orbit.

The James Webb Space Telescope is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope destined to be the premier observatory of the next decade. It is expected to launch in 2013.

APRIL 2008

Narration: In April…

*NEW RECORD – Narration: "Astronaut Peggy Whitson breaks space endurance record"

*HAWKING LECTURES – Narration: "The 50th Lecture Series presents Physics Giant Stephen Hawking"

*NEW COAT – Narration: "The SOFIA Telescope is readied for a final coat"

*’CHUTE TESTS – Narration: "Engineers test the Mars Science Lab Parachute System"

STARDUST SALUTED – Narration: "The Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission Team is honored."

SPACE PARTIES – Narration: "And NASA centers commemorate humankind's first venture into space"

Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko returned to Earth on April 19 after spending 192 days in space. During the mission they accomplished a number of record-breaking feats.

Mission Control: "Congratulations! You are the world record-holder in EVA time."

Peggy Whitson: "Just being at the right place at the right time."

Whitson set the all-time endurance record for the most aggregate days in space by a U.S. astronaut with 377 days on-orbit. Whitson is now 20th on the all-time list of astronaut stays in space while Malenchenko’s cumulative achievement of 515 days places him 9th on the all-time list of human space travelers. Whitson set the record over two missions eclipsing Mike Foale’s record of 374 days which was achieved over six flights. The Expedition 16 Crew also completed a number of experiments designed to gather information about the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body.


Physics pioneer Professor Stephen Hawking spoke to a rapt audience at George Washington University on "Why We Should Go Into Space?"

Stephen Hawking: "What is the justification for spending all that effort and money on getting a few lumps of moon rock? It will completely change the future of the human race and maybe determine whether we have any future at all."

Hawking’s and his daughter Lucy are the most recent speakers for NASA’s 50th Anniversary Lecture Series. The pair are co-authors of a children’s book -- “George's Secret Key To The Universe.” Hawking is a theoretical physicist and the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He has made significant discoveries regarding cosmology, gravity and black holes. Hawking is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. In 1982, he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire and made a Companion of Honour in 1989. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences.

ADD: Other speakers in NASA’s 50th Anniversary Lecture Series included Google CEO Eric Schmidt and NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.

Technicians at the NASA Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., carefully removed the German-built primary mirror assembly from SOFIA --the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy on April 18 in preparation for the final coating of the mirror. Under the watchful eyes of engineers and observers, they used a precision crane to lift the mirror assembly -- which weighs more than two-tons -- from its cavity in the rear fuselage of the highly modified Boeing 747 aircraft. The mirror then was gently secured and moved to a clean room to be prepared for shipment to NASA’s Ames Research Center. At Ames, the one-of-a-kind 2.5-meter diameter mirror will receive its final aluminized finish before it’s re-installed in the SOFIA aircraft. The process is expected to take about three months.

Engineers at the Ames Research Center have conducted wind tunnel tests of the Mars Science Laboratory parachute decelerator system. The parachute is designed to slow the Mars entry vehicle from Mach 2 to low subsonic speeds as it prepares for a rocket powered descent and landing on the Martian surface. Researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Pioneer Aerospace will study the data gathered when the parachute is opened and first exposed to wind. The parachute which is more than 50 feet in diameter, and 165 feet long can only be tested at Ames’s National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex -- the world's largest wind tunnel.

Members of NASA’s Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission Team were among the recipients of the National Air and Space Museum’s 2008 Trophy awards. The Stardust team received the 2008 Current Achievement Trophy for accomplishing the first U.S. robotic sample return mission beyond the moon and securing the first collection of comet and interstellar dust particles for study on earth. Tom Duxbury SOT: "After we’re done with this mission we’ve left a heritage of these samples that are going to be studied for a hundred years."

The Stardust spacecraft secured its unique specimens during a nearly 3 billion-mile, seven-year odyssey. Scientists believe these precious samples will provide answers to fundamental questions about comets and the origins of the solar system. The awards honor outstanding achievements in aerospace science and technology. Along with the awards, a special case containing Stardust artifacts was unveiled for display at the Air and Space Museum.

Ames, Goddard and Johnson were among those NASA centers sponsoring Yuri's Night World Space Parties. The Bay Area celebration drew an estimated 7,000 people to the Ames’ Moffett Field hangar and was highlighted by music, dance, technology and art. Goddard Space Flight Center played host to hundreds of partygoers, with another 15-hundred estimated in attendance at Space Center Houston. Held simultaneously in more than 25 countries and 80 locations worldwide, Yuri's Night commemorates humanity's first venture into space by Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 19-61, and recognizes the first space shuttle mission on that same date, twenty years later.

MAY 2008

Narration: In May…

*FIRST PIX – Narration: "Phoenix sends back polar region imagery"…

*YOUNG SUPERNOVA - Narration: "The most recent supernova in our Milky Way discovered"

*SATURN V SEVENTH WONDER - Narration: "And Good Morning America pays homage to the Saturn V"

These are among the first pictures transmitted by the Phoenix Mars Lander of the Red Planet as it began its three month mission. They’re the first ever taken from the surface of the planet’s polar region, where Phoenix made the first successful propulsive landing on Mars since Viking 2 in 1976. Another first is this photograph taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of Phoenix suspended from its parachute on its descent to the Martian surface. No spacecraft had ever before been photographed by another as it was landing on Mars.

Segue gfx UPDATE
Narration: "Story Update."

After five months on a mission that’s led to a wealth of discoveries, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander has stopped communicating with its team of scientists here on Earth. As expected, the Martian autumn has stopped producing enough sunshine for the lander to re-charge its batteries and power its instruments.

Among its accomplishments: the mission verified the presence of water-ice in the Martian sub-surface. Phoenix discovered chemicals that will advance the study of whether the Martian arctic could ever have supported microbial life. The spacecraft also coordinated with NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to perform simultaneous ground and orbital observations of Martian weather, and snapped more than 25-thousand pictures. These range from sweeping vistas of the Martian north, to images captured by the first atomic force microscope ever used outside Earth. Planned to gather and return data from Mars for 90 days, Phoenix exceeded its mission by two months.

The most recent supernova in our Milky Way galaxy has been located, 140 years after it exploded. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory and ground-based radio dishes discovered the remnants of the supernova, known as G1.9+0.3. When it exploded 140 years ago in the middle of the Milky Way, it couldn’t be seen optically because it was obscured by the surrounding dense gas and dust. Today, G1.9+0.3’s expanding remnant IS detectable in x-ray and radio waves by Chandra and a ground-based array of dishes.


Sam Champion: "We’re standing right the Saturn V rocket in Huntsville, Alabama."

Meteorologist Sam Champion hosted a series of live reports from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville for ABC’s “Good Morning America” program. The two-hour long network show highlighted the Saturn V rocket as one of the Seven Wonders of America.

Designed and built at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville in the 19-60s, NASA’s Saturn V powered the Apollo missions to the moon. ABC calls the Saturn V rocket, quote, "…the embodiment of America's spirit of ingenuity."

JUNE 2008

Narration: In June…

*FOLKLIFE FEST - Narration: "The Smithsonian honors NASA’s first 50 years"…

*GO GLAST - Narration: "The search for space phenomena"

*SOLAR MISSION SETS – Narration: "Ulysses comes to an end"

*AMATEUR AUSSIE - Narration: "And a Down Under data-gatherer helps Cassini astronomers"

*INDEPENDENCE – Narration: "New wheels from NASA"…

The Smithsonian is honoring NASA’s 50th anniversary by featuring the agency in this year’s Folklife Festival, an annual event held on the “Mall” in the Nation’s capitol. NASA: 50 Years and Beyond” includes visual presentations, hands-on educational activities and exhibits that explore the space agency’s past and future missions. The Folklife Festival is a celebration of cultural traditions of communities across the United States and around the world. The festival features exhibits, concerts, movies, food and lectures over a 10 day period. In addition to NASA, the Smithsonian is spotlighting the state of Texas and the country of Bhutan.

(music Space Philharmonic)

The Space Philharmonic under the direction of Emil de Cou launched the festival with its performance of Holst’s “The Planets” at the National Museum of the American Indian. Former astronaut Mae Jemison helped narrate the concert; NASA imagery was projected onto the museum’s wall behind the players.

SOT from Wall-E film: "You are now free to move about the cabin."

The Space Philharmonic also performed the score of the new Disney-Pixar movie, "WALL- E," about the last robot-rover on Earth who finds true love with a new robot named Eve.

George Diller: "Liftoff of the Delta Rocket carrying GLAST, a Gamma-ray telescope searching for unseen physics in the stars of the galaxies."

NASA’s Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope began its high-energy mission with a successful liftoff from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Gamma rays are the highest form of energy in the Universe, with millions of times more energy than the light we see with our eyes. GLAST will allow scientists to better understand what causes and powers black holes and other mysterious high-energy phenomena.

Steven Ritz: "What we see when we look at other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum is very different from what we see with our natural eyesight. And by building instruments to aid, using our brains to build instruments to aid our natural senses, we’re able to learn so much more about the universe."

A NASA/European Space Agency mission to study the sun’s poles is ending after 17 productive years. The Ulysses spacecraft was launched in October 1990 aboard space shuttle Discovery. Propelled towards Jupiter, Ulysses eventually settled into a permanent orbit around the sun to explore its heliosphere. Originally designed for five years, the mission lasted more than 17. The vast amount of data Ulysses returned changed how scientists view the sun and its effect on the space surrounding it.

An amateur astronomer in Australia is helping NASA with information he’s collected about a storm on Saturn. Backyard stargazer and retired miner Trevor Barry, who lives in the small town of Broken Hill in western New South Wales, first noticed the storm in February. He’s been sending pictures to University of Iowa scientists and NASA researchers ever since.

Trevor Barry: "This is just another night of imaging Saturn and when I process the images there was the barest hint of some structure, a white spot."

Barry’s observations are supplementing data collected of the storm by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft that’s orbiting Saturn.

Trevor Barry: "I’m now involved with NASA. Can you believe it!!!" (very excited)


(Beeping sound)

Technology designed by NASA for the Apollo program is providing independence for a Texas teenager. Matthew Swinton of the Dallas suburb of Southlake is confined to a wheelchair by muscular dystrophy. A system developed by NASA for its Apollo lunar rovers allows Swinton to get around in his own modified minivan. Rather than a steering wheel and pedals, a joystick lets Swinton turn, accelerate and brake his vehicle. A touch screen computer provides additional options, like blowing his horn…

(Horn beeping) Mathew Swinton: "Watch it buddy!"

Swinton is thrilled his newfound independence is linked to NASA’s first program to send astronauts to the moon. A recent high school graduate, Swinton will attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall – and plans to drive to South Bend.

Matthew Swinton: "One giant leap or roll for mankind."

JULY 2008

Narration: In July…

*FIGHTING FIRES – Narration: "Ikhana helps firefighters in the field"

*MARSHALL PRIZEWINNER - Narration: "SERVIR’s creator honored for groundbreaking work"

*MARS DAY – Narration: "Thousands celebrate the mysteries of Mars"

*SALLY RIDE SALUTE – Narration: "And a 25th anniversary tribute to the first American woman in space"

NASA's remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft has flown over much of California to help fight more than a thousand forest fires burning in the state. The NASA-developed Autonomous Modular Scanner aboard the aircraft is capturing visible light, infrared and thermal imagery of the wildfires. The images are transmitted through a communications satellite by Ikhana to the Ames Research Center, where they’re integrated into Google Earth maps for subsequent use by firefighters in the field.

Steve Hipskind: "The real leap that we’ve made here is getting the right data in near real time, getting it to the people, telling them where the fire fronts are, where they’re moving, and you need that information within minutes so that they can make decisions about where to put people on the ground."

Ikhana is a Predator-B aircraft adapted for civilian research and is based at the Dryden Flight Research Center.

Marshall Space Flight Center Earth Scientist Daniel Irwin has received the Charles S. Falkenberg Award for ground-breaking work using satellite imagery. Irwin created an unprecedented monitoring and visualization system that's shared among scientists, scientific agencies, and governments in Central America and the Dominican Republic. Called SERVIR, “to serve” in Spanish, the system has harnessed Earth imagery from space to help disaster responses to hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, algal blooms and other crises across Central America. Irwin is now working to build similar systems and international collaborations in other developing regions of the world, like East Africa. The award is named for Charles Falkenberg, a noted computer scientist who advanced techniques for collecting and visualizing earth and environmental science data. He, his wife, and their two young daughters lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington celebrated Mars Day with tens of thousands of visitors interested in exploring the mysteries of the Red Planet. Museum-goers participated in a variety of activities such as maneuvering a small robotic rover, studying the latest images from the Red Planet in 3-D, and operating a robotic arm

Jamal Thompson: "These are robotic arms. So, what they can do is they can move the joints on the robot arm by switching each component on the controller and she’s going to release the block into the cup so it’s pretty good idea of what it’s like to control a robot arm on Mars. "

Visitors also had opportunities to talk one-one-one with scientists about recent Mars missions and discoveries.

John Grant, CEPS: "The public is really fascinated with Mars; they always have been. This is a way for us to show all these exciting discoveries, the Phoenix Lander, for example, the Mars Rovers, and all those sorts of things we can bring to the public and explain to them how things work."

Carla Bitter, University of Arizona: "This is Phoenix’s robotic arm; so it’s a lot like your arm. It’s got a shoulder and it’s got an elbow and it’s a wrist down here with a scoop. We take the sample and program it to come and deliver the sample to one of two instruments on the deck."


The Goddard Space Flight Center celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first American woman in space -- former astronaut Sally Ride.

Sally Ride: "You know when I was little girl I always dreamed of flying in space and twenty-five years ago that dream came true. And, it’s through your hard work and your imagination, your creativity and your dedication, that all of you will be able to reach for the stars and achieve your dreams too."

The event kicked off a three-day educator conference called "Earth Then, Earth Now: Our Changing Climate" which focused on understanding climate change in the 25 years since Ride’s historic shuttle flight – and what changes are predicted over the next 25 years. The conference was sponsored by NASA, Sally Ride Science, NOAA, the National Science Teacher’s Association, and the Department of Energy.


Narration: In August…

*HUBBLE HISTORY - Narration: Hubble makes history – again…

*DROGUE DROP TEST – Narration: a Constellation Program ‘chute test proves successful;

*WEBSITE WORLD’S FAIR – Narration: a new NASA online feature debuts

*BLUFORD ANNIVERSARY – Narration: remembering Guy Bluford’s barrier-breaking mission;

*SPITZER CELEBRATION – Narration: and Spitzer turns 5.

100,000th ORBIT – Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope has another achievement. In more than 18 years of service, the NASA space observatory has now made more than 100,000 orbits of Earth. And this was the image captured by Hubble on that milestone orbit: the nebula NGC 2074, a star-birthing region 170-thousand light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Matt Mountain: It’s a testament to how well Hubble is built and how productive it’s built so even today after 18 years of observing it’s still producing world class, world beating results that people are cueing up and waiting for.”

Segue gfx UPDATE
Narration: “Story Update.”

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has taken the first visible-light snapshot of a planet circling another star. Estimated to be no more than three times Jupiter’s mass, the planet, called Fomalhaut b, orbits the bright southern star Fomalhaut, located 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Australis, the Southern Fish.

Mark Clampin: “Most of the observations out there right now are what we called indirect detections, either the planets are found through spectroscopic observations that reveal a wobble, or they’re found as they transit across the face of their parent star, and you see a small dip in the light coming from them. This particular observation we have actually sent you the smoking gun; a real image of a planet.”

Scientists had been hunting for a planet circling Fomalhaut since the early 1980s, when an excess of dust was discovered around the star by NASA’s Infrared Astronomy Satellite.

The STS-125 mission to service Hubble is scheduled for next May.

The first parachute drop test for the Ares I rocket has been conducted successfully. The drogue ‘chute designed to slow the rapid descent of Ares’ spent first-stage motor did its job, helping bring its payload to the desert floor of the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The drogue parachute, a vital element of the Ares I deceleration system, will permit recovery and re-use of the first-stage motor that helps propel the rocket to space. The successful test is a key milestone for NASA's Constellation Program that will send explorers to the International Space Station, the moon and beyond.


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


SOT: There’s our new Spitzer Image?

The unveiling of a new, spectacular image captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope helped the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles celebrate the five year anniversary of the spacecraft’s launch.

The glitzy image is just the latest eye-opening new view of the universe seen by Spitzer in infrared light. The Spitzer mission’s many accomplishments include imaging the farthest known galaxies, breakthroughs in understanding the lives of stars, and detecting light for the first time from exoplanets, planets orbiting other stars.

The activities at the Observatory included lectures on astronomy, a Spitzer information booth, and a 140-foot-long Spitzer image of our own Milky Way galaxy.


Launch Announcer: “We have ignition and we have liftoff.”

Twenty-five years ago, on August 30, 1983, Guy Bluford became the first African American in space as a crew member of STS-8, the first shuttle mission to launch and land at night. STS-8 deployed an Indian satellite and conducted a variety of scientific and medical experiments and measurements. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bluford became a NASA astronaut in August, 1979, and flew three more shuttle flights after his history-making mission.

Guy Bluford: “All of them were exciting missions where we did very different things, but things for which I feel very proud to have participated with those teams.”


Narration: In September…

*50TH GALA - Narration: NASA celebrates its golden anniversary;

*OHIO ROOTS– Narration: Buckeye astronauts gather in Cleveland;

*WALK OF HONOR – Narration: Lancaster, California pays tribute to three NASA heroes;

*NASA ART BOOK - Narration: and a new book features NASA art.

“Honoring the past, envisioning the future” was the theme of a gala in celebration of NASA’s first 50 years. Some 2-thousand guests attended the event at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar Hazy center in Chantilly, Virginia. With the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world as their backdrop, invitees heralded NASA’s five-decade-long commitment to scientific discovery, technological innovation and space exploration.

Michael Griffin: One thing about that’s very enjoyable about our 50th birthday; we’re still young enough to be able to interact with those not only our astronauts but also our flight engineers, those on the ground who helped bring it together, to be able to be mentored and taught by such people has been one of the greatest benefits that I’ve had.”

T. Keith Glennan: “NACA is to become part of a new agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency.”

It was fifty years ago, on October 1, 1958, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established to steward America’s space program, and help humankind’s understanding of the universe, our home planet, and ourselves.

Greg Chamitoff: “As we pause to mark NASA’s first 50 years of inspiration, innovation and discovery, we see a world without borders from our vantage point in space, a world where the sky’s the limit.”

The event also featured a congratulatory message from Expedition 17 flight engineer Greg Chamitoff aboard the International Space Station.

The evening's entertainment included performances by music icon Quincy Jones, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and the Space Philharmonic conducted by Emil de Cou.



Nineteen astronauts with Ohio roots participated in a NASA 50th Anniversary Gala held in Cleveland. The event highlighted the contributions of 27 astronauts born or now living in Ohio, including Neil Armstrong…

Neil Armstrong: “That’s what we did!”

John Glenn…

John Glenn: “And this gives you confidence you can really do this.”

and Jim Lovell…

Jim Lovell: “You either had to have the courage to continue or you were lost.”

New York native, astronaut Kevin Kregel also attended. Kregel was named an honorary Buckeye by the state’s governor prior to piloting Discovery on the “all-Ohio” STS-70 in 19-95; his crewmates were Commander Tom Henricks and Mission Specialists Nancy Jane Currie, Don Thomas and Mary Ellen Weber.

Mary Jane Weber: “…That’s my only words of inspiration is to keep your eyes and ears open. Look for the tiniest opportunity to try something new to seek out new people, new events, event like today.”


The city of Lancaster, California paid special tribute to three former NASA astronauts. Sidewalk plaques honoring Eileen Collins, Michael Collins and the late Gordon Cooper were unveiled on Lancaster’s Aerospace Walk of Honor. Each plaque denoted highlights of the astronauts’ careers, portions of which were spent at nearby Edwards Air Force Base.

Suzan Cooper, widow of Gordon Cooper: "Some of his most favorite stories and remembered times were of Edwards Air force Base and so I know that always was a favorite memory, favorite time, good everything for him, and this would be like coming back home again."

The careers of Cooper, Michael Collins and Eileen Collins span NASA’s human spaceflight program from Mercury through Apollo and the space shuttle.

Norman Rockwell, Annie Liebowitz, Robert Rauschenberg, just some of America’s cultural icons commissioned by the NASA Art Program to interpret and document the experience of space exploration. When Administrator James E. Webb established the art program in 1962, he believed that artists, like astronauts, constantly probe the unknown and are uniquely equipped to interpret and document space exploration. James Dean was the NASA Art Program’s first curator.

James Dean, Founding Director, NASA Art Program:

“We would call them on the telephone and say we’re trying to do this, would you be interested? They lit up! Artists had been kind of pushed into the background with the advent of great photographic coverage of everything that was happening. And they were being invited back into the front line of something that was new, exciting and had the world’s attention. They were very eager to get involved.”

In "NASA | ART 50 Years of Exploration," a new book co-authored by Dean and the art program’s current curator, the public will be able to see for the first time many of these artists’ interpretations in a historic collection of almost a half-century of space-inspired artwork.

Bert Ulrich, Co-Author, “NASA/Art 50 Years”/Curator, NASA Art Program:

“I think when people see the book they’ll go wow, NASA does that kind of stuff, I mean who would of thought! It really, really tells the NASA story in an interesting way. You really get an idea of what the history of NASA is all about. You go all the way back to the last Mercury Mission, all the way forward.”

"NASA | ART 50 Years of Exploration," contains 150 full color illustrations, along with essays by Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, science fiction novelist Ray Bradbury, and curator Tom D. Crouch.


Narration: In October…

*ROCKET COMPONENTS - Narration: a test rocket heads to Marshall;

*FLYIN’ HIGH – Narration: and, the Bay Area gets a blimp.

Full-scale components of the Ares I-X test rocket designed and manufactured at the Glenn Research Center were showcased for media prior to their journey to the Kennedy Space Center. The components represent the size, outer shape and mass of the second stage of the rocket. They'll travel from the Wellsville, Ohio Intermodal Facility on a 12-day trip to Kennedy, where they'll be integrated on the Ares 1-X test rocket scheduled for launch next year. Ares is the launch system that'll power NASA astronauts back to the moon.

The first airship to fly over the U.S. in more than 70 years floated over the Golden Gate Bridge landing at Ames Research Center’s Moffet field, after a dramatic cross country flight. The Airship Ventures Zeppelin is 246-feet-long, 50 feet longer than the Goodyear Blimp, and capable of carrying up to 12 passengers. NASA and Airship Ventures have entered into a lease agreement to base the Zeppelin at Moffet Field. The deal allows NASA to use the airship for disaster response, scientific research and educational training. The Zeppelin is also available, commercially, for aerial tours of the San Francisco Bay area.


Narration: In November…

*CREW CAPSULE TEST – Narration: Orion’s mass is measured;

*NEXT ON MARS - Narration: what’s next on the Red Planet;

*PHOTO ENHANCEMENT – Narration: an Apollo-era pic gets processed;

*APOLLO 8 – Narration: the crew remembers Apollo 8;

*DAWN IS COMING– Narration: Dawn’s flyby is coming;

*COAST-TO-COAST (CONCLUSION) – Narration: and, a 42-hundred mile journey concludes.

Members of the media witnessed the final mass properties tests on the boilerplate Orion crew module in preparation for the Launch Abort System flight test scheduled for next spring at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The tests conducted at the Dryden Flight Research Center included a series of weight and balance measurements to determine the module’s weight distribution and resistance to rotation. The results confirmed that the crew modules mass properties measurements meet the necessary requirements for the upcoming Launch Abort System test. With these measurements, NASA engineers hope to be able to accurately predict how the module will behave when it’s launched. The boilerplate crew module was built at the Langley Research Center.

The finalists for the landing site of NASA’s next mission to Mars have been selected. Four locations for the Mars Science Laboratory that’ll set down on the Red Planet have been chosen by project leaders following input from international Mars experts and engineers. The sites are Eberswalde, where an ancient river deposited a delta in a possible lake; Holden, a crater containing alluvial fans, flood deposits, possible lake beds and clay-rich deposits; Mawrth, with exposed layers containing at least two types of clay; and Gale, with a mountain of stacked layers including clays and sulfates.

Michael Meyer: "This is the first time where we have wonderful spectroscopy at high enough resolution that we can match it with the terrain, so we can point to layers and say this is where we want the rover to go and make its measurements."

The rover’s landing site will be chosen next summer.


A photograph of the Earth rising above the moon taken from space 42 years ago is now more detailed than ever. The iconic image snapped by the Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft in 1966 was saved on one of 15-hundred magnetic tapes recently rediscovered by NASA. The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at the Ames Research Center took analog data from the tapes, converted them to digital form, then reconstructed the image. Similarly-enhanced lunar images will be made available to the public after they’re processed and calibrated. Scientists hope the highly-detailed imagery will help plan NASA’s return to the moon.

Three pioneering men, six phenomenal days…
Four days before Christmas, on December 21, 1968, Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders made their mark in the history books becoming the first men to circle the moon. Two Washington institutions hosted events to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the mission. The Newseum hosted a unique discussion with the Apollo 8 astronauts about their epic journey.

William Anders: “The most memorable thing for me was to see the earth about as big as your fist at arms length and realize and the idea that the earth is so tiny almost trivial on the physical scale of things, I don’t think that’s sunk in general to humanity.” James Lovell SOT: “My most memorable moment was when I looked out the window and saw water splashing on the thing, knowing that we had safely landed in the pacific.”

The event also featured the premiere of the Newseum’s new NASA short documentary.

Senator John Glenn: “It is my pleasure to welcome the Apollo 8 astronauts.”

The National Air and Space Museum also hosted an event to honor Borman, Lovell and Anders and remember the accomplishments of Apollo 8.

Frank Borman: “The whole concept of changing our mission and getting ready in four months was done because we were in that program, that can do program, beat the Russians to the moon. NASA likes to talk about scientific exploration and our lunar expert here Bill Anders, picks up all the rocks in the world. The reason we went to the moon was to beat the Russians. I want to give you a clue. (laughter) Okay Martin. Nothing changes.”

James Lovell: The mission of Apollo 8 was really to check the navigation and to check for suitable landing spots, the flat areas, the maria, the seas that would give the people who would attempt the first landing the greatest chance of survival.”

The successful six-day Apollo 8 mission proved a firm stepping stone to the Apollo 11 moon landing seven months later.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is gliding towards a February flyby of Mars. Dawn recently shut down its ion propulsion system after gaining the thrust needed to use the Red Planet’s gravity to guide the spacecraft toward its ultimate destination: the asteroid belt. That’s where Dawn’s expected to begin its exploration of the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015

Marc Rayman: “We’ve only used about 168 pounds of propellant, and yet that’s enough to celebrate the spacecraft by more than 4,000 miles per hour. We just finished thrusting November 20, and that put us on course so the spacecraft is headed for exactly where it needs to go in order to flyby Mars to get the gravity assist that will then help send it on to Vesta.”

Astronomers and scientists hope Dawn’s orbits of Vesta and Ceres will help them better understand the origins of the universe. For more about Dawn’s 8-year, 3-billion-mile mission, visit

John Herrington: “Four thousand one hundred forty two, so far.”

Former NASA astronaut John Herrington has completed his cross-country bicycle tour to promote student interest in science, technology, engineering and math. Herrington arrived at the Kennedy Space Center three months and more than 41-hundred miles after departing from Cape Flattery, Washington. Herrington met with school students in every state through which he bicycled.

John Herrington: “I think it’s important that kids realize things they do in life can be challenging, and things that are most satisfying in life that you do are the most challenging things. I think riding a bike, flying in space, graduating from high school and college, they have to tie it all together, and if they do, they’ll be successful. And that’s the point behind the whole thing.”

Herrington became the first Native American to fly in space aboard shuttle Endeavour in 2002. As a mission specialist on STS-113, Herrington logged more than 330 hours in space, almost 20 hours of which were spent on three spacewalks.


Narration: 2008 concludes…

*PRIMARY PHASE Narration: …with an end to MRO’s first phase;

*FERRY FLIGHT – Narration: and Endeavour piggy-backs home;

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

Space shuttle Endeavour was ferried back to its home base – the Kennedy Space Center - on the back of a modified 747. The plane is one of two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft maintained by NASA. Endeavour departed the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base 10 days after landing there following the successful completion of STS-126.

And that's This Year At NASA!!

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