This Week @ NASA

Latest Edition of “This Week @ NASA” (Posted Feb. 03, 2016)

Upcoming Activities and NASA TV Coverage

Tuesday, February 2

o   9:30 amISS Expedition 46 Educational Event for ESA with Flight Engineer Tim Peake of the European Space Agency (all channels)

o   10 am  – Space Station Live (all channels)

o   11 am – NASA Announcement on Science, Technology Missions for First Flight of Space Launch System (all channels)

Wednesday, February 3

o   7:30 am  – Coverage of ISS Expedition 46 Russian Spacewalk (Spacewalk begins at 8:10 a.m. ET; Malenchenko and Volkov) (all channels)


Thursday, February 4


o   12:30 pm – ISS Expedition 46 Educational Event with Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado (Starts at 12:35 p.m.) (all channels)

Friday, February 5


o   12:30 pm – ISS Expedition 46 Interviews for KTRK-TV, Houston and TIME Magazine with Commander Scott Kelly of NASA and Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos (Starts at12:25p.m.) (all channels) 



  • Day of Remembrance – There were nearly 2,000 articles about the Challenger anniversary and the Day of Remembrance, including pieces from Florida Today, CNN, and The Washington Post.


  • Earth – Many outlets shared NASA satellite imagery of the East Coast snowstorm. Coverage included posts on CNET, AOL, and The Washington Post.







Press Releases & Web Features January 25- February 1


NASA Remembers Its Fallen Heroes, 30th Anniversary of Challenger Accident (January 27)

Arlington National Cemetery Wreath Laying Now to Start at 11 a.m. EST

NASA will pay will tribute to the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as other NASA colleagues, during the agency’s Day of Remembrance on Thursday, Jan. 28, the 30th anniversary of the Challenger accident. NASA’s Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, and other agency senior officials will hold an observance and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia starting at 11 a.m. EST. Various NASA centers also will hold remembrance events Thursday for employees and the families of those lost in service to America’s space program.


International Space Station


NASA Television to Air Russian Spacewalk (January 29)

NASA Television will broadcast live coverage of a 5.5-hour spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station beginning at 7:30 a.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 3. Expedition 46 Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos will don their spacesuits and exit the station’s Pirs airlock at approximately 8:10 a.m. Their objectives are to deploy and retrieve several experiment packages on the Zvezda and Poisk modules and install devices called gap spanners, which will be placed on the hull of the station to facilitate the movement of crew members on future spacewalks.




NASA Damage Maps May Help in Future Quakes (January 29)

Nepal’s magnitude 7.8 Gorkha earthquake caused significant damage and loss of life in 2015. In natural disasters like this, it is critical to locate areas that are in the most need of assistance as fast as possible.

Quickly assessing and communicating where the hardest-hit areas are and prioritizing which regions or communities have the greatest need for first-response teams is difficult when a disaster unevenly devastates various parts of a large area. It helps to get a bigger-picture view of where the damage is located from a high vantage point: low-Earth orbit.


NASA Radar Brings a New View of World Heritage Site (January 27)

In just two 10-minute overflights, an airborne NASA synthetic aperture radar proved it could pinpoint areas of disturbance in Peru’s Nasca lines World Heritage Site. The data collected on the two flights will help Peruvian authorities fully catalog the thousand-year-old designs drawn on the ground in and around the site for the first time, as well as giving them a new tool for protecting the fragile constructions from both careless humans and natural disturbances such as floods. The left frame shows a portion of the mesa-top site in a Google Earth image. Drainage gullies circle the mesa where the Nasca people constructed lines several miles long, enormous polygons, and animal figures simply by moving rocks. A shape called the Hummingbird is faintly visible above and to the left of the scale line, its long beak ending below a road that cuts diagonally from the right edge of the image to the center.


Solar System & Beyond


Hubble Finds Misbehaving Spiral (January 29)

Despite its unassuming appearance, the edge-on spiral galaxy captured in the left half of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is actually quite remarkable. Located about one billion light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus, this striking galaxy — known as LO95 0313-192 — has a spiral shape similar to that of the Milky Way. It has a large central bulge, and arms speckled with brightly glowing gas mottled by thick lanes of dark dust. Its companion, sitting in the right of the frame, is known rather unpoetically as [LOY2001] J031549.8-190623.


Pluto’s Widespread Water Ice (January 28)

New data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought. This false-color image, derived from observations in infrared light by the Ralph/Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) instrument, shows where the spectral features of water ice are abundant on Pluto’s surface. It is based on two LEISA scans of Pluto obtained on July 14, 2015, from a range of about 67,000 miles (108,000 kilometers). The scans, taken about 15 minutes apart, were stitched into a combined multispectral Pluto “data cube” covering the full hemisphere visible to New Horizons as it flew past Pluto. A data cube like this is a three-dimensional array in which an image of Pluto is formed at each LEISA-sensitive wavelength. Water ice is Pluto’s crustal “bedrock,” the canvas on which its more volatile ices paint their seasonally changing patterns. Initial New Horizons maps of Pluto’s water ice bedrock compared LEISA spectra with a pure water ice template spectrum, resulting in the map at left.


Methane Saturn (February 1)

The soft, bright-and-dark bands displayed by Saturn in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft are the signature of methane in the planet’s atmosphere. This image was taken in wavelengths of light that are absorbed by methane on Saturn. Dark areas are regions where light travels deeper into the atmosphere (passing through more methane) before reflecting and scattering off of clouds and then heading back out of the atmosphere. In such images, the deeper the light goes, the more of it gets absorbed by methane, and the darker that part of Saturn appears. The moon Dione (698 miles or 1,123 kilometers across) hangs below the rings at right. Shadows of the rings are also visible here, cast onto the planet’s southern hemisphere, in an inverse view compared to early in Cassini’s mission at Saturn (see PIA08168).


Ceres: Keeping Well-Guarded Secrets for 215 Years (January 26)

New Year’s Day, 1801, the dawn of the 19th century, was a historic moment for astronomy, and for a space mission called Dawn more than 200 years later. That night, Giuseppe Piazzi pointed his telescope at the sky and observed a distant object that we now know as Ceres. Today, NASA’s Dawn mission allows us to see Ceres in exquisite detail. From the images Dawn has taken over the past year, we know Ceres is a heavily cratered body with diverse features on its surface that include a tall, cone-shaped mountain and more than 130 reflective patches of material that is likely salt. But on that fateful evening in 1801, Piazzi wasn’t sure what he was seeing when he noticed a small, faint light through his telescope.




Sandy Selfie Sent from NASA Mars Rover (January 29)

The latest self-portrait from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the car-size mobile laboratory beside a dark dune where it has been scooping and sieving samples of sand. The new selfie combines 57 images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of Curiosity’s arm on Jan. 19. The rover has been investigating a group of active sand dunes for two months, studying how the wind moves and sorts sand particles on Mars. The site is part of Bagnold Dune Field, which lines the northwestern flank of Mars’ Mount Sharp.





NASA to Announce Science, Technology Missions for First Flight of Space Launch System (January 28)

NASA Television will air the announcement of the selection of a fleet of small satellites to launch on the inaugural flight of the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS). The event, which is at 11 a.m. EST (10 a.m. CST) Tuesday, Feb. 2, from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will announce the CubeSats that will fly as secondary payloads and deploy to conduct science and technology demonstrations in deep space. Following the event, which media are invited to participate in, NASA TV will air a demonstration of the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA Scout), a CubeSat that uses solar sail propulsion for low-cost exploration and reconnaissance of an asteroid.