This Week @ NASA

Latest Edition of “This Week @ NASA”

Upcoming Activities and NASA TV Coverage

Tuesday, September 16

  • ·         Media Briefing on Arctic Climate Change Campaigns. Earth’s northern polar region, one of the most rapidly changing areas of our planet, is the focus of three recent NASA research campaigns and will be discussed in detail during a media teleconference at 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 16. The airborne field campaigns will examine changing glacier elevations in Alaska, thawing permafrost and the impact of sea ice retreat on the Arctic climate. NASA’s first campaign to study the link between sea ice retreat, clouds and the energy balance in the Arctic is underway, flying out of Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Arctic Radiation-IceBridge Sea and Ice Experiment (ARISE) is making flights over Arctic sea ice to measure ice, cloud properties and incoming and outgoing radiation. LINK

Wednesday September 17

  • ·         Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata Visit Goddard Space Flight Center. Astronauts Rick Mastracchio of NASA and Koicha Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will tour NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Sept. 17. While at Goddard, Mastracchio and Wakata will view the new Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) control room and other satellite control centers. The GPM Core Observatory was launched into orbit in February while the two astronauts were aboard the International Space Station. The GPM team will brief Mastracchio, Wakata and the media on the observatory’s collection of data on rain, snowfall and other types of precipitation, data that is now available to the general public. LINK
  • ·         MAVN Pre-Orbit Briefing. NASA will host a televised media briefing at 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Sept. 17, to outline activities around the Sunday, Sept. 21 orbital insertion at Mars of the agency’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. The briefing will be held in NASA’s Headquarters’ auditorium, 300 E Street SW in Washington, and broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars. The mission’s goal is to determine how the loss of atmospheric gas to space played a role in changing the Martian climate through time. LINK
  • ·         NASA TV

o   10:15 a.m. - ISS Expedition 41 In-Flight Event for ESA from Berlin with Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency – JSC (Translated version on NTV-1 and 2; native language on NTV-3) (all channels)

o   2 p.m. - Video File of the ISS Expedition 41/42 Crew Activities in Baikonur, Kazakhstan – JSC via Baikonur, Kazakhstan (all channels)

Thursday, September 18

  • ·         Future Space Station Crew NASA TV Briefing. A crew launching to the International Space Station in the near future, which includes NASA astronaut Terry Virts, will participate in a news conference and media interviews Thursday, Sept. 18, at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The news conference will air live on NASA Television at 2 p.m. EDT. Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency, and Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency will launch to the space station Nov. 23 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. LINK
  • ·         SpaceX-4 Science and Research Briefings. During panel discussions Sept. 18 at 9, 10, and 11 a.m., scientists and researchers will discuss the various science and research studies, including RapidScat, 3-D printing in Zero-G, technology to measure bone density, and model organism research using rodents, fruit flies and plants. LINK
  • ·         NASA TV

o   9 a.m. - Live Interviews for European Media with Expedition 42 Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (NTV-1 and NTV-2 with Interpretation; NTV-3 to Europe in native language) (NTV-3 (Media))

o   9 a.m. - NASA ISS Earth Science Briefing (NTV-1 (Public), NTV-2 (Education))

o   10 a.m. - NASA ISS Research and Technology Briefing (all channels)

o   11 a.m. - NASA ISS Model Organisms Briefing (all channels)

o   12 p.m. - NASA ISS/SpaceX CRS-4 Panel Discussion-1 (Science and Research) (NTV-1 (Public), NTV-2 (Education))

o   12:20 p.m. - ISS Expedition 41 In-Flight Event with the NBC Nightly News website and NASA Flight Engineer Reid Wiseman (all channels)

o   1:30 p.m. - Video B-Roll Feed of ISS Expedition 42-43 Crew Training (all channels)

o   2 p.m. - ISS Expedition 42-43 Crew News Conference (Anton Shkaplerov, Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti) (all channels)

o   3 p.m. - NASA ISS/SpaceX CRS-4 Panel Discussion-3 (Science and Research) (all channels)

Friday, September 19

  • ·         SpaceX-4 Senior Leader Briefing and News Conference. NASA senior leaders will host a briefing Sept. 19 at 9 a.m., followed by a prelaunch news conference at 10 a.m. at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. All these briefings, which are subject to a change in time, will be carried live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. LINK
  • ·         NASA TV

o   6 a.m. - Live Media Interview on Maven Spacecraft Mars Orbit Insertion (NTV-3 (Media))

o   9 a.m. - SpaceX CRS-4 Prelaunch News Conference (all channels)

o   10 a.m. - NASA ISS Program Briefing (all channels)

Saturday, September 20

  • ·         Launch of the SpaceX-4 Cargo Mission. The fourth SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract is scheduled to launch Saturday, Sept. 20, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The one-day adjustment in the launch date was made to accommodate preparations of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and was coordinated with the station’s partners and managers. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying its Dragon cargo spacecraft loaded with more than 5,000 pounds of scientific experiments and supplies, will lift off at 2:16 a.m. EDT. NASA Television coverage of the launch begins at 1:15 a.m. If for any reason the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is Sunday, Sept. 21 at approximately 1:53 a.m. The mission, designated SpaceX CRS-4, is the fourth of 12 SpaceX flights NASA contracted with the company to resupply the space station. It will be the fifth trip by a Dragon spacecraft to the orbiting laboratory. LINK
  • ·         NASA TV

o   12:45 a.m. - Video B-Roll Feed of the Processing of the SpaceX-CRS 4 Falcon 9 Rocket and the Dragon Cargo Craft (all channels)

o   1:15 a.m. - Coverage of the SpaceX-CRS 4/Dragon Launch (Launch time is 2:16 a.m. ET) (all channels)

o   3:45 a.m. - SpaceX-CRS-4/Dragon Post-Launch News Conference (all channels)

o   5:30 a.m. - Coverage of the Grapple of the SpaceX-4/Dragon at the ISS (all channels)

News Highlights

There were hundreds of articles about the safe flyby of asteroid 2014 RC on Sunday, including coverage from the BBCPeople MagazineABC News, and ReutersNBC News and The Guardian are two of the outlets that reported about skepticism from NASA scientists that the blast was caused by a meteorite.

News that scientists had discovered evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa generated more than 80 articles. Coverage included pieces from TimeAFP, and Popular Mechanics.

The return of three astronauts from the International Space Station was covered by outlets like CBS News and Reuters. A number of outlets also reported on the upcoming SpaceX resupply mission to the space station. Nature Magazine and NBC News reported on the 3-D printer that will travel to the space station later this week.

Press Releases & Web Features September 2 – 8


NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft Makes Final Preparations For Mars (September 8)

On Sept. 21, 2014, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft will complete roughly 10 months of travel and enter orbit around the Red Planet. The orbit-insertion maneuver will be carried out as the spacecraft approaches Mars, wrapping up an interplanetary journey of 442 million miles (711 million kilometers). Six thruster engines will fire briefly for a “settling” burn that damps out deviations in pointing. Then the six main engines will ignite two by two in quick succession and will burn for 33 minutes to slow the craft, allowing it to be captured in an elliptical orbit. This milestone will mark the culmination of 11 years of concept and development for MAVEN, setting the stage for the mission’s science phase, which will investigate Mars as no other mission has.

NASA Identifying Candidate Asteroids for Redirect Mission (September 9)

NASA is on the hunt to add potential candidate target asteroids for the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). The robotic mission will identify, capture and redirect a near-Earth asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon. In the 2020s, astronauts will explore the asteroid and return to Earth with samples. This will test and advance new technologies and spaceflight experience needed to take humans to Mars in the 2030s. NASA has two options for robotic asteroid capture. One concept would capture a small asteroid in its “native orbit” – the natural orbit in which it is found. The other would retrieve a boulder from a larger asteroid. NASA will decide between the capture options in December and hold a Mission Concept Review in early 2015, which will further refine the design of the mission. LINK

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover Arrives at Martian Mountain (September 11)

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet’s Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission’s long-term prime destination. “Curiosity now will begin a new chapter from an already outstanding introduction to the world,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “After a historic and innovative landing along with its successful science discoveries, the scientific sequel is upon us.” Curiosity’s trek up the mountain will begin with an examination of the mountain’s lower slopes. The rover is starting this process at an entry point near an outcrop called Pahrump Hills, rather than continuing on to the previously-planned, further entry point known as Murray Buttes. Both entry points lay along a boundary where the southern base layer of the mountain meets crater-floor deposits washed down from the crater’s northern rim. LINK

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Nears Completion, Ready for Fueling (September 11)

NASA is making steady progress on its Orion spacecraft, completing several milestones this week at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for the capsule’s first trip to space in December. Engineers finished building the Orion crew module, attached it and the already-completed service module to the adapter that will join Orion to its rocket and transported the spacecraft to a new facility for fueling.LINK

NASA Unveils World’s Largest Spacecraft Welding Tool for Space Launch System (September 12)

The largest spacecraft welding tool in the world, the Vertical Assembly Center officially is open for business at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The 170-foot-tall, 78-foot-wide giant completes a world-class welding toolkit that will be used to build the core stage of America’s next great rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).  SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built for deep space missions, including to an asteroid and eventually Mars. The core stage, towering more than 200 feet tall (61 meters) with a diameter of 27.6 feet (8.4 meters), will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the rocket’s four RS-25 engines.

Solar System and Beyond

Hubble Finds Supernova Companion Star after Two Decades of Searching (September 9)

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a companion star to a rare type of supernova. The discovery confirms a long-held theory that the supernova, dubbed SN 1993J, occurred inside what is called a binary system, where two interacting stars caused a cosmic explosion. “This is like a crime scene, and we finally identified the robber,” said Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy at University of California (UC) at Berkeley. “The companion star stole a bunch of hydrogen before the primary star exploded.” LINK

First Map of Rosetta’s Comet (September 11)

Scientists have found that the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — the target of study for the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission — can be divided into several regions, each characterized by different classes of features. High-resolution images of the comet reveal a unique, multifaceted world. ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft arrived at its destination about a month ago and is currently accompanying the comet as it progresses on its route toward the inner solar system. Scientists have analyzed images of the comet’s surface taken by OSIRIS, Rosetta’s scientific imaging system, and defined several different regions, each of which has a distinctive physical appearance. This analysis provides the basis for a detailed scientific description of 67P’s surface. LINK

NASA Research Helps Unravel Mysteries Of The Venusian Atmosphere (September 11)

Underscoring the vast differences between Earth and its neighbor Venus, new research shows a glimpse of giant holes in the electrically charged layer of the Venusian atmosphere, called the ionosphere. The observations point to a more complicated magnetic environment than previously thought – which in turn helps us better understand this neighboring, rocky planet. LINK

A Significant Flare Surges Off the Sun (September 11)

The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 1:48 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2014. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground.  However — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel… Two coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, also exploded off the sun from the same active region as the Sept. 10, X-class flare. Images of the CMEs were captured by the joint European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory. Scientists use observations like these to determine the speed, strength, and size of CMEs. LINK

Earth Right Now

NASA Launches New Era of Earth Science from Space Station (September 8)

The launch of a NASA ocean winds sensor to the International Space Station (ISS) this month inaugurates a new era of Earth observation that will leverage the space station’s unique vantage point in space. Before the end of the decade, six NASA Earth science instruments will be mounted to the station to help scientists study our changing planet. The first NASA Earth-observing instrument to be mounted on the exterior of the space station will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on the next SpaceX Commercial Resupply Services flight, currently targeted for no earlier than Sept. 19. ISS-RapidScat will monitor ocean winds for climate research, weather predictions and hurricane monitoring from the space station. LINK

On Space Station, Earth’s Beauty is in the Eye of the High Definition Beholder (September 8)

A series of new Earth science instruments launching to the International Space Station over the next year is prompting a new era of Earth observation from the orbiting outpost. These new tools that monitor ocean winds and measure clouds and pollution in the atmosphere, among other climate science phenomena, will help NASA deliver important information to climate researchers. While these new Earth science instruments collect valuable information on our changing planet, one current Earth observation study continuously streams live views of Earth directly to your desktop or mobile internet device. The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) investigation allows anyone with an internet connection to view our world from above. LINK

International Action Against Ozone Depleting Substances Yields Significant Gains (September 10)

Worldwide action to phase out ozone-depleting substances has resulted in remarkable success, according to a new assessment by 300 international scientists. The stratospheric ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas that protects Earth from harmful ultraviolet light, is on track to recovery over the next few decades. The Assessment for Decision-Makers, a summary of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, provides new information to affirm that the 1987 international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer has successfully resulted in global international policies to reduced levels of ozone-depleting substances. LINK

NASA Research Aids Response to California Napa Quake (September 10)

NASA data and expertise are proving invaluable in California’s ongoing response to the Aug. 24 magnitude 6.0 earthquake in Napa Valley, northeast of San Francisco. The quake was the strongest to occur in the San Francisco Bay Area in a quarter-century and caused significant regional damage. Analyses by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, of airborne data from NASA’s Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), GPS data and radar imagery from the Italian Space Agency’s COSMO-SkyMed satellites, are revealing important details of how the ground deformed in the region and the nature of the fault movements. In addition, a NASA-funded disaster decision support system has provided a series of rapid-response data maps to decision makers at the California Earthquake Clearinghouse. Those maps are being used to better direct response efforts. LINK

International Space Station

Space Station Expedition 40 Crew Returns to Earth, Lands Safely in Kazakhstan (September 10)

Three crew members from the International Space Station (ISS) returned to Earth Wednesday after 169 days of science and technology research in space, including a record 82 hours of research in a single week, which happened in July. Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson of NASA and Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan at 10:23 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Sept. 10 (8:23 a.m., Sept. 11, in Dzhezkazgan). LINK

Other NASA Announcements

NASA Selects U.S. Firms to Provide Commercial Suborbital Flight Services (September 8)

NASA has selected four companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space. The selection is part of NASA’s continuing effort to foster a viable market for American commercial reusable suborbital platforms that allow testing of new space technologies within Earth’s atmosphere. Through these new awards, selected companies will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract for integration and flight services, drawing from a pool of commercial space companies. The three-year contracts have two-year extension options and a minimum value of $100,000. The flights will carry a variety of payloads during five diverse flight profiles to help meet the agency’s research and technology needs. LINK

NASA, Honeywell Bring Hip Hop Physics Tour to Greater Seattle Area (September 9)

NASA and Honeywell are inviting media to participate in the west coast kickoff of the 10th anniversary celebration of their FMA Live! Forces in Motion tour. The tour show will visit three Seattle-area schools during the week of Sept. 15. The award-winning, action-packed show combines NASA content, hip-hop music, dancers, larger-than-life demonstrations and audience participation in a way that engages middle school students and teaches them the basic principles of physics. The fall tour will make its way down the Pacific states in celebration of a significant milestone for this education outreach program: reaching 400,000 students and 1,000 schools in the last decade. LINK

Science Mission Directorate Weekly Highlights (Attached)