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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, January 29
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This Week At NASA...

With launch day fast approaching, the STS-130 crew and launch team have their hands full with last minute preparations. As pad maintenance and system checks are performed, Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts, and Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Bob Behnken, Steve Robinson and Kathryn Hire continue to review flight data and practice tasks they’ll perform during launch and on orbit. Virts, the only first-time flyer of the crew, is understandably excited about the mission.

Terry Virts: "I think everybody on their first space flight is just looking forward to going into space. It’s an amazing concept to think of leaving the planet earth and just not that many people have gotten to do that so I’m really looking forward to that."

At launch pad 39A Endeavour’s payload bay doors are closed and ready for flight. Inside is Tranquility, a pressurized module that will house many of the station’s life support systems, and a cupola, a seven-window work station that will give the astronauts a vastly improved view of the station’s exterior. Launch of Endeavour is scheduled for Feb. 7 at 4:39 am eastern.

A NASA aircraft with extensive radar capabilities will help study earthquake faults in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. A Gulfstream III carrying NASA’s Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar, or UAVSAR, was already scheduled to perform a three-week series of science overflights in Central America. After the Haitian earthquake, NASA managers added additional science objectives that will allow UAVSAR’s unique observational capabilities to study geologic processes in Hispaniola following the earthquake. UAVSAR’s ability to provide rapid access to regions of interest, short repeat flight intervals, high resolution and its variable viewing geometry make it a powerful tool for studying ongoing Earth processes.

It began as a 90-day mission, but NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit, roamed for more than six years to gather and return unprecedented science from the Red Planet. Now, impossibly stuck in a sand trap, Spirit has been designated a stationary science platform after efforts during the past several months to free it have been unsuccessful.

Doug McQuistion: "With the loss of mobility on Spirit, people are disappointed. These have really become public icons, globally, not just in the United States. Even children, easily, identify with the rovers; they’re cute, and they give you a human’s eye view of the surface of another planet for the first time."

Spirit’s primary objective in the coming weeks will be to tilt itself more towards the sun and collect enough solar energy to weather the severe Martian winter. If Spirit survives, it could continue conducting significant new science for years.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory mission gets underway with a launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in February.

Dick Fisher: "SDO is our first opportunity to use a piece of instrumentation called a heliosiesmometer, and what this does is it does the same thing as a sonogram for a human diagnostic, where you look inside of a human to see organs and processes going on, and we are going to be able to see the birth of magnetic fields in the sun and their evolutions this is the first time ever we’ll be able to do that."

The Solar Dynamics Observatory, will help scientists zoom in on solar activity such as sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, thus improving forecasting of how this "solar weather" will affect us. The Observatory is expected to deliver startling images of the sun with ten times more detail than High Definition Television cameras. SDO is the first in NASA’s "Living with a Star" satellites and has been designed to provide invaluable data about the sun for five years.

WISE, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer has discovered a near-Earth asteroid some 98 million miles away. The asteroid is not expected to come near enough to our planet to pose a threat. Scientists say this is just the beginning for WISE, which began its all-sky survey at the beginning of the year.

Nat Sound: "Ignition and lift-off of a Delta II (2) rocket and WISE searching for stars at galaxies never seen before."

The telescope should find as many as a thousand previously undiscovered asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter, as well as hundreds of new near-Earth asteroids and other hidden objects.

Nat Sound: "The things we did on our flight, of course launch, landing & space station"

The STS-129 crew continued its center tour with a stop in northeast Ohio at the Glenn Research Center. There, they presented video highlights from their 11-day mission last November.

The 129 crew also visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, bringing with them several items that accompanied the astronauts on their 4.5 million mile journey into space: a specially-minted silver coin that will be used at the kickoff of Super Bowl XLIV; jerseys representing the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, the two NFL teams with whom crew member Leland Melvin had a tryout; and, a football, inscribed with the names of Pro Football Hall of Fame members. Local students and community partners joined in the event. Commander Charlie Hobaugh, who attended high school in Ridgeville, Ohio, and Cleveland-area native, Mission Specialist Mike Foreman, were joined by crew members Melvin, Barry Wilmore, Randy Bresnik and Bobby Satcher at a Cleveland Cavaliers game with the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves at Quicken Loans Arena.

Announcer: "Joining us tonight with that jersey is the crew from the space shuttle Atlantis."

As well as taking in the matchup, the astronauts participated in pregame activities and met with fans.

Fifteen years ago, on February 3, 1995, Space Shuttle Discovery launched from the Kennedy Space Center on mission STS-63. A night launch and the 20th mission for Discovery, it marked the first time a space shuttle mission had a female pilot, Eileen Collins. Dubbed the Near-Mir mission, STS-63 rendezvoused with and did a fly around of Russian space station Mir, in preparation for STS-71, the first mission to dock with Mir. Along with Collins, the STS-63 crew included Commander Jim Weatherbee, Mike Foale, Janice Voss, Bernard Harris and cosmonaut Vladimir Titov. Collins went on to become the first female commander of a space shuttle mission, STS-93, in 1999.

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