This Week @ NASA

Latest Edition of “This Week @ NASA” (Posted November 23,  2015)

Upcoming Activities and NASA TV Coverage

Monday, November 23

o   3 p.m. Replay of the ISS Expedition 46-47 Crew News Conference at Star City, Russia (all channels)

o   3:30 p.m. Video File of the ISS Expedition 46-47 Crew’s Visit to the Gagarin Museum in Star City, Russia and their Visit to Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow (all channels)


Tuesday, November 24

o   6:30 a.m. Video B-Roll of ISS Expedition 46-47 NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra’s Training (all channels)

o   7 a.m. – Live Interviews with ISS Expedition 46-47 NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra from Star City, Russia (all channels)


Wednesday, November 25


Thursday, November 26


Friday, November 27




  • Earth – Administrator Bolden’s interview with Ars Technica focused on NASA’s Earth science research.Tech Times and CityLab published pieces on NASA’s carbon research. Popular Science posted an article about NASA’s plan to use satellite to detect wildfires as they start. 38 outlets reported on the GISS global surface temperature anomaly map for October showing record temperatures.


  • TechnologyMashable, Forbes, and Tech Times were some of the outlets that reported on JPL’s “Chemical Laptop.”


  • MarsHumans of New York featured a photo of a man and his son, with a quote from the son talking about how if he was a reporter, he’d write a story about NASA launching a rocket to space. He also said he wanted to interview the head of NASA. NASA responded on Facebook. The Huffington Post, the Orlando Sentinel, and Mashable were some of the outlets to report on the picture and NASA’s response. Gizmodowrote about NASA’s work on aerodynamics for SLS. Ars Technica and Gizmodo published articles about the new metallic coating for Orion. Popular Science and CNET covered Curiosity’s upcoming visit to Mars’ sand dunes. Space News and Spaceflight Insider published interviews with Deputy Administrator Newman focused on the journey to Mars.


  • ISSEngadget and The Daily Mail were two of the outlets that reported on the zinnias being planted on the Space Station. Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko participated in a Q&A with The Inquiring Minds podcast posted its interview with Cady Coleman, which focused on NASA’s astronaut recruitment. ABC News previewed the upcoming Orbital ATK launch.


  • Aeronautics – Aviation Week reports NASA’s evaluation of Systems Technology Inc.’s (STI) Fused Reality concept as a way of blending simulation and flying for flight testing and training.





Press Releases & Web Features November 16-23




Springtime in the South Atlantic- November 23

The springtime phytoplankton communities shown in this image were spotted between the Falkland Islands to the west and South Georgia Island to the east by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard NASA-NOAA’s Suomi NPP satellite on November 16, 2015.


Five-Year NASA Study to Look at the Immense Influence of Petite Plankton – November 19

Plankton: They’re the tiniest of sea creatures, the bottom of the ocean’s food chain.

But when those pee-wees of the sea multiply in what’s known as a bloom, they can, collectively, have an enormous and far-reaching impact on the planet. That’s why another collective — of humans, specifically researchers and scientists from NASA and academia — have taken a distinct interest in the diminutive organisms. In fact, the folks from NASA and academia are so interested in plankton that they recently launched something called the North Atlantic Aerosols and Marine Ecosystems Study, or NAAMES, an intensive, five-year investigation of what’s happening at the bottom of the food chain and how that will evolve as climate changes.




Solar System & Beyond


Dione Before the Rings – November 23

Saturn’s rings are so expansive that they often sneak into Cassini’s pictures of other bodies. Here, they appear with the planet in a picture taken during a close flyby of Dione. The flyby of Dione (698 miles or 1123 kilometers across) during which this image was taken was the last close encounter with this moon during Cassini’s mission. The main goal of the flyby was to use the spacecraft as a probe to measure Dione’s gravity field. However, scientists also managed to take some very close images of the surface. All of the data will be helpful to understand the interior structure and geological history of this distant, icy world. This view is centered on terrain at 7 degrees south latitude, 122 degrees west longitude. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Aug. 17, 2015.


Where Alice in Wonderland Meets Albert Einstein – November 20

One hundred years ago this month, Albert Einstein published his theory of general relativity, one of the most important scientific achievements in the last century. A key result of Einstein’s theory is that matter warps space-time, and thus a massive object can cause an observable bending of light from a background object.  The first success of the theory was the observation, during a solar eclipse, that light from a distant background star was deflected by the predicted amount as it passed near the sun. Astronomers have since found many examples of this phenomenon, known as “gravitational lensing.” More than just a cosmic illusion, gravitational lensing provides astronomers with a way of probing extremely distant galaxies and groups of galaxies in ways that would otherwise be impossible even with the most powerful telescopes.




Engineers Refine Thermal Protection System for Orion’s Next Mission – November 19

Engineers developing Orion’s thermal protection system have been improving the spacecraft’s heat shield design and manufacturing process since the vehicle successfully traveled to space for the first time last year. On future missions, a silver, metallic-based thermal control coating will be bonded to the Orion crew module’s back shell tiles. When it comes to a spacecraft enduring the extremely hot and fast journey from deep space back to Earth, NASA’s Orion can withstand the heat. Engineers developing Orion’s thermal protection system have been improving the spacecraft’s heat shield design and manufacturing process since the vehicle successfully traveled to space for the first time last year. They are now enhancing the overall system in advance of the spacecraft’s next mission – a flight that will put Orion through the harshest set of conditions yet.



International Space Station


NASA Orders SpaceX Crew Mission to International Space Station – November 20

NASA took a significant step Friday toward expanding research opportunities aboard the International Space Station with its first mission order from Hawthorne, California based-company SpaceX to launch astronauts from U.S. soil.

This is the second in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. The Boeing Company of Houston received its first crew mission order in May.

New York Students Quiz Space Station Crew on Life Off the Earth – November 18

Students from East Side Middle School in New York will have the opportunity to speak with NASA astronauts on the International Space Station at 9:40 a.m. EST on Thursday, Nov. 19 during an event hosted by TIME For Kids.

The 20-minute, Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Space station commander Scott Kelly and flight engineer Kjell Lindgren will answer questions from students during the event at the TIME Inc. headquarters. TIME For Kids has been encouraging more than 3.1 million students nationwide to follow along on Kelly’s one-year mission in its monthly magazine and online.


NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra Available for Interviews Before Space Station Mission – November 17

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, who is making final preparations for a December launch to the International Space Station, is available for live satellite interviews from 7-8 a.m. EST Tuesday, Nov. 24. Kopra will participate in the interviews live from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. The interviews will be preceded at 6:30 a.m. by a video highlighting his mission training. To participate, reporters should contact Karen Svetaka at 281-483-8684 no later than 3 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23. Media participating in the live shots must tune to NTV-3.





NASA Studying Volcanic Ash Engine Test Results – November 19

NASA researchers are spending at least the next six months poring over data from a recent test that involved sending volcanic ash through an airplane engine. According to the U.S. Geological Survey more than 80 commercial aircraft encountered potentially hazardous volcanic ash in flight and at airports from 1993-2008. That was before the big 2010 volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland which disrupted hundreds of flight in Europe and the lives of about 10 million airline passengers over six days. “The primary issue is that volcanic ash forms glass in the hot sections of some engines,” said John Lekki, NASA Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) Principal Investigator, based at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. “This clogs cooling holes and chokes off flow within the engine which can eventually lead to an engine power loss. It is very erosive, which causes damage to compressor blades and other parts in the engine.”



NASA Announces New Public-Private Partnerships to Advance ‘Tipping Point,’ Emerging Space Capabilities – November 19

NASA has secured partnerships with 22 U.S. companies through two solicitations to advance the agency’s goals for robotic and human exploration of the solar system by shepherding the development of critical space technologies.

“These awards enable us to continue to foster partnerships with the commercial space sector that not only leverage capabilities to meet NASA’s strategic goals, but also focus on U.S. industry markets that are at a tipping point for commercialization and infusion,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “At NASA, technology drives exploration and partnering with the private sector in this way supports the innovation economy and creates jobs.”


NASA Awards Two Robots to University Groups for R&D Upgrades – November 17

Humanoid robots will be helpful to astronauts on our journey to Mars, so NASA has awarded prototypes to two universities for advanced research and development work. NASA is interested in humanoid robots because they can help or even take the place of astronauts working in extreme space environments. Robots, like NASA’s R5, could be used in future NASA missions either as precursor robots performing mission tasks before humans arrive or as human-assistive robots actively collaborating with the human crew. R5 initially was designed to complete disaster-relief maneuvers, however, its main goal is to prove itself worthy of even trickier terrain — deep space exploration.