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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, January 8
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This Week At NASA...

Administrator Charlie Bolden joined President Obama at a special White House ceremony honoring educators from across the country for their excellence in mathematics, science teaching and mentoring. The event was part of the President’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to boost student achievement in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math.

President Obama: “I've challenged the scientific community to think of new and creative ways to engage young people in their fields. That's why we launched the "Educate to Innovate" campaign -- a nationwide effort by citizens, non-for-profits, universities, and companies from across America to help us move to the top of the pack in math and science education."

President Obama lauded the honorees for their efforts and announced five new “Educate to Innovate” partners, including NASA, who’ll help inspire American students in STEM fields over the next five years.

President Obama: “NASA will also be launching an enrichment program to bring their scientists and engineers to students in the classroom and to bring students to NASA, so that they might experience that same sense of wonder and excitement while maybe learning a little bit at the same time."



More than 3,500 astronomers and students gathered in Washington for the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society. This year’s hot topics included the discovery of “hot Jupiters,” five new exoplanets detected by the Kepler telescope in deep space. These discoveries range in size from Neptune to larger than Jupiter and are known as “hot Jupiters” because of their mass and extreme temperatures, 2,200 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit; they are far too hot to sustain life.

Bill Borucki: “They’re twenty times hotter than Jupiter. All of these five planets are so hot they glow. They’re hotter than molten lava. So they’re very unusual kinds of planets compared to what we see in our solar system.”

Kepler scientists will continue searching for smaller rocky planets like our Earth that could support life as we know it.

Also at the Double-AS meeting, astronomers discussed the discovery of 17 millisecond pulsars, rapidly spinning and highly magnetized cores left behind when massive stars explode.

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These findings came from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope which detected them by studying unknown high energy sources. Millisecond pulsars are nature’s most precise clocks and may be useful as a kind of “galactic” GPS to detect gravitational waves passing near Earth.

To coincide with the Double-A S meeting, a new image from the Hubble Space Telescope was unveiled, showing more than 12 billion years of cosmic history in a panoramic view of thousands of galaxies in various stages of assembly.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden gave the conference’s keynote speech, recapping last year’s accomplishments by the Agency and previewing upcoming missions in 2010.

Charlie Bolden: "There ‘s just an incredible number of missions we are going to launch in the coming months, beginning this month, that I think will revolutionize the way we look at our world."

Space shuttle Endeavour moved from the Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A, signaling the start of STS-130’s upcoming mock launch countdown activities. Endeavour's astronauts and ground crews will participate in a launch dress rehearsal, known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, starting Jan. 19. The test provides shuttle crews an opportunity to participate in various simulated countdown activities, including equipment familiarization and emergency training. STS-130 is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on February 7 at 4:39 a.m. EST.


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STS-130 will also take to the ISS a moon rock brought back from the lunar surface 40 years ago during the historic Apollo 11 mission; it’ll be accompanied back to space by a small piece of the Earth’s highest mountain. That rock was brought back from Mt. Everest last May by former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, who’d carried the Apollo lunar sample on his trek up the 29-thousand and 35-foot-high mountain.

Scott Parazynski: “This is the summit of Mt. Everest. We’re just down the slope from the summit because it was getting kind of crowded at this point.”

A special event at Space Center Houston saw Parazynski present both rocks to NASA astronaut and STS-130 mission Commander George Zamka.

George Zamka: “These rocks have already done more than human beings can do a lifetime.”

The two rocks will be displayed inside the station's Tranquility module, which STS-130 will also deliver to the orbiting complex.



STS-129 Mission Specialists Leland Melvin and Bobby Satcher were among the riders of a flower-adorned Space Odyssey float in this year’s Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. The float sponsored by the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California, included a space shuttle created with ground white rice, solar arrays comprised of nori seaweed and onion seed, and a revolving satellite fashioned from mums, strawflower and purple statice. Joining Melvin, Satcher and Ronald McDonald on the float were children who’ve been helped by the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

And that’s This Week at NASA! Happy Holidays!

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