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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, April 9
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This Week at NASA…


Scientists now believe Earth's nearest neighbor Venus is more like our planet than they previously thought. New findings based on pictures and infrared imagery captured by the European Space Agency's Venus Express mission and NASA’s Magellan spacecraft confirm that Venus is not a cold rock but a dynamic host of active volcanoes like those found in Hawaii.

Sue Smrekar: "The fact that we have discovered this volcanism that's pretty recent on the surface of Venus definitely moves us toward a picture of Venus where it continues to have volcanism today, and in a lot of ways, is more like the earth than we had imagined. Relatively young lava flows within the last 3 million years have been identified by their emissions of infrared radiation. These observations suggest Venus is still capable of volcanic eruptions. Venus Express has been in orbit around the planet since April 2006.


Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover, has reached another milestone in its travels around the Red Planet. The rover has covered more than twelve-and-a-half miles since landing on Mars six years ago. Opportunity has explored a series of craters on the plain of Meridiani and now is traveling to another destination -- the Endeavour crater that's 7-and-a-half miles away. If Opportunity continues heading directly to the crater, stopping only to recharge its batteries, the trek should take the rover about two more years. HI-TECH TANK DOME

The first, full-scale, friction stir welded and spun-formed tank dome was unveiled by NASA and its partners at a special ceremony at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Lesa Roe: "It's terrific to be here in person to publicly thank this team and to recognize the great efforts that come out of this work over the last four-to-five years. It's been a terrific effort."

Tank domes are a necessary component in fuel tanks for securing liquid propellant.

The 18-foot prototype was developed using cutting-edge manufacturing techniques that, by eliminating complex welding, machining and inspection steps, are proving more reliable and less expensive. They can create domes for any large liquid propellant tank.

The high-tech dome technology was jointly developed by Marshall, the Langley Research Center, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and MT Aerospace of Augsburg, Germany.


Four members of the STS-130 Endeavour space shuttle crew expressed their appreciation for employees of the Marshall Space Flight Center during a recent visit. The crew thanked employees for supporting the successful February mission to the International Space Station. Among other contributions, Marshall provided the three main engines that powered the crew on their 14-day mission.

Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts, and Mission Specialists Kay Hire and Bob Behnken recapped their time in space with a special video presentation. Audience Question: "How did it feel to be weightless?"

They then took questions about their mission to deliver the Tranquility node, and it seven-window cupola attachment to the space station.

NASA ANNIVERSARY: April 12, 1981, STS-1 -- First Shuttle Launch

Twenty-nine years ago, on April 12, 1981, space shuttle Columbia was launched from the Kennedy Space Center. Commanded by Gemini and Apollo veteran John Young and piloted by first-time flyer Bob Crippen, this first space shuttle mission, STS-1, was also the first U.S. manned orbital space flight since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project almost six years earlier. Columbia made its ascent into orbit, where Young and Crippen checked out all of its systems. The orbiter landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base, California on April 14 after 37 trips around the Earth.

John Young: "We had practiced a lot of malfunctions, and we were checking out all the systems and making sure they worked, and they worked beautifully."

Bob Crippen: "I wanted to make sure that I did my part of the mission well and it was fun, all the way."

And that's This Week at NASA!

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