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NASA TV's This Week @NASA, July 23
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This Week at NASA…

New observations by the Hubble Space Telescope’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), confirm the existence of a giant scorched planet traveling extremely close to its star. Named HD 209458b, it’s being called by astronomers a "cometary planet" because it has the components of a planet - but with a trailing tail like a comet, possibly the result of strong stellar winds sweeping off its super heated atmosphere.

Eric Smith: "Mass is being stripped of at the rate of about 100,000 cars per second. So, a typical big car plant on the Earth might make 100, 200, 300-thousand cars a year. That’s how many they’re making. This planet’s losing that much mass per second."

HD 209458B is 153 light years from Earth, weighs slightly less than Jupiter, and speeds around its star in about 3 and1/12 days, which means one of our weeks is equal to two of its years.

Eric Smith: "Up to just recently in human history we’ve only known about the planets in our own solar system, and can study those and so we developed theories about how stars and planets formed based upon that. Now, there is just this incredible diversity of planet types, different stellar types, different orbits, and it’s causing us to have to rethink entirely how we believe stars and planets formed."


NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA, is currently conducting a second series of flight tests to prepare for the airborne observatory’s early science missions.

This phase requires SOFIA to fly above 41,000 feet with the telescope assembly and aperture operating at its full range of vertical movement.

These tests will enable SOFIA to meet all airworthiness requirements during the flying observatory's 20-year operational life expectancy.

An Aerojet AJ26 rocket engine was delivered to the Stennis Space Center and installed in its E-1 Test Stand. That’s where a series of tests will prove its readiness for use in the Taurus II space launch vehicle currently under development by Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va. Two AJ26 rocket engines similar to this test engine will provide first stage propulsion for the Taurus II and be flown in support of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS, cargo demonstration to the International Space Station.

Members of the STS-132 crew visited the Marshall Space Flight Center. Commander Ken Ham, Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Garrett Reisman and Piers Sellers showed video highlights from their May 14th mission to the International Space Station and participated in a question-and-answer session with Marshall employees.

We hear you during ascent talking back to people in the control room. How hard or difficult is that?

Ken Ham: "In the video, you heard some hooting and hollering; that’s on the internal communications system, (laughter) So, we’re having hooting and hollering, and when it’s time to talk, it’s important to get everybody to shut up." (laughter)

STS-132 was a 12-day mission that delivered a Russian Mini Research Module and other equipment to the orbiting outpost.

MARS DAY 2010 - HQ
The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington celebrated “Mars Day” with a smorgasbord of activities for everyone’s tastes.

Among them, testing one’s skills at maneuvering a robotic rover or using a robotic arm; viewing a real meteorite from Mars; and looking at the Red Planet in 3D. Visitors also discussed the latest NASA missions and discoveries with research scientists.

Jim Green: "More people come to this and look at what we do in space and aeronautics than any other museum in the world. It’s a fabulous opportunity for people to come and learn about our space program and what we’re doing both in human exploration, but also in our robotics missions and really participate in the dream and the realities of exploring space as we have for the last 40 years."

"Mars Day" is held annually at Air and Space to mark the July 1976 landing of Viking 1, the first spacecraft to operate on Mars. A test version of Viking 1 is displayed in the museum’s Milestones of Flight gallery.

The Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland opened its doors to Girl Scouts from across the country for NASA's "Girls in Space" camp.

Mollie O’Day: "I don’t know what the clean room is, but I’m excited about seeing it."

The scouts spent four days learning about NASA missions and how astronomers investigate the mysteries of the universe. Bailey Gordon SOT: “It’s just really amazing that we can have this opportunity to come here and learn everything about space.” Once home, these Girls Scouts will share their new knowledge by, among other activities, helping form Girl Scout Astronomy clubs in their hometowns.


Announcer: "Let me introduce Leland and Jose and their magical, mystery tour of outer space!"

Youngsters joined their parents at NASA Headquarters for Take Your Children to Work Day.

Kid question: "How do you keep food from floating away in space?"

Boys and girls ages 7 to 15, and their equally eager parents, participated in fun, educational, and interactive events to learn more about space, astronauts, and working at the agency.

Kristen Erickson: "I'm in planetary science and we have a lot of the content here; our asteroid models are here, and our moon rocks, and our Mars meteorites."

It's hoped the unique experience of accompanying their moms and dads to work will leave children with positive, lasting impressions on their lives and perhaps influence the careers they'll pursue.

Jack Glowacki: "I want to be an astronaut."

And that's This Week at NASA!

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