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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, March 5
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This Week At NASA...

The STS-131 Crew and space shuttle Discovery continues their progress toward an April 5 launch to the International Space Station. Discovery has been rolled out to Launch Pad 39A, while the seven STS-131 astronauts participated in launch countdown dress rehearsal activities and other prelaunch training.

Rick Mastracchio: "I’ve had two space launches and I’ve done three spacewalks, but I’m telling you the rollout of the space shuttle Discovery the other night was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen."

During their mission, Commander Alan Poindexter, Pilot Jim Dutton and Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki will deliver a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks that will be transferred to the International Space Station’s laboratories.

STS-131 is the 33rd shuttle mission to the station.

The World Wind Java computer program developed at the Ames Research Center has earned NASA's 2009 Software of the Year Award. World-Wind is an open-source platform used to display NASA and U.S. Geological Survey data on virtual 3-D globes of Earth and other planets.

The user friendly program uses button or mouse controls to rotate, pan and zoom through models to engage the public to learn more about our planet and NASA technology. The displayed information comes from satellites, aerial photography, and topographic and geographic data.

Software engineers also envision the program helping to better enable government, commercial enterprises, and individual developers build the applications they need for research and business.

Members of the software development team received medals during a special ceremony at the NASA Project Management Challenge Conference in Galveston, Texas.

NASA is replacing an aging fleet of 230-foot-wide antennas used in the Deep Space Network with new "beam wave guide" antennas that enable the network to operate on several different frequency bands within the same antenna. The replacement antennas are approximately half the size of the originals. The NASA Deep Space Network - or DSN - is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth-orbiting missions.

In the first phase of the project, near Canberra, Australia, up to three 110 feet-wide antennas will be built. That work should be completed by 2018. The DSN currently consists of three deep-space communications facilities placed approximately 120 degrees apart around the world: at Goldstone, in California's Mojave Desert; near Madrid, Spain; and near Canberra, Australia. This strategic placement permits constant observation of spacecraft as the Earth rotates, and helps to make the DSN the largest and most sensitive scientific telecommunications system in the world. The antennas are more than 40 years old and show wear and tear from constant use. The decision to begin construction came on the 50th anniversary of U.S. and Australian cooperation in space tracking operations.

Christopher DellaCorte, of the Glenn Research Center’s Tribology & Mechanical Components branch has received the 2009 Quality and Safety Achievement or Qasar Award for figuring out what caused severe degradation of a starboard solar array alpha rotary joint on the International Space Station.

The repair alleviated the need to launch a massive replacement rotary joint to space station and enabled full operation of the solar arrays supplying primary power to space station modules and experiments.

The QASAR recognizes individual government and contractor employees who have shown exemplary performance in contributing to the quality and/or safety of products, services, processes, or management programs and activities. DellaCorte’s knowledge, skill and dedication played a major role in overcoming a malfunction that would have limited the capability aboard the complex. His efforts have been referred to as the largest lube job in space.

Teachers became students while participating in the second annual NASA Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics -- STEM -- Educators, Workshops held this year in Charlotte, N.C. The 40-session workshop provided elementary, middle and high school teachers with creative hands-on ways to incorporate NASA content into their classrooms. The workshops are specifically designed to give teachers tangible resources for immediate use in classrooms.

The three-day event culminated with a guest appearance from Astronaut Leland Melvin, who spoke to an audience of hundreds of middle school students at the NASA Sponsored Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Education Day.

Leland Melvin: "It’s all about you today, because you are the future."

The CIAA is an athletic conference made up of eleven historically African-American institutions of higher education and is the nation's oldest black athletic conference.

Melvin the son of teachers is the co-manager of NASA's Educator Astronaut Program. In that role he travels across the country helping teachers get students excited about careers in mathematics, science and technology and the role they play in space exploration.

The NASA supported “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” Robotics program began its 19th year with regional competitions like this one held in Washington, D.C. FIRST is a nationwide competition that teams young people with professionals to solve engineering design problems in a competitive way.

Afriyie Turner: "You can always learn from things so a better way to, you know, complete the task at hand."

Each year First Robotics creates a new contest that gives kids the chance to build a robot using skill sets they may later use to become scientists, engineers, or inventors.

Jeffrey Wood: "I expect to learn things that I didn’t know before and use it to apply to a career that I want to choose which is engineering."

This year’s competition is called "Breakaway" where student teams will compete on a 27-by-54-foot field with bumps, attempting to earn points by collecting soccer balls in goals.

More than 1,800 teams will compete in forty-three regional events in the U.S., Canada, and Israel all leading up to the Championship in Atlanta, April 15-17.

And that’s This Week @ NASA.

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