This Week @ NASA

Latest Edition of “This Week @ NASA” (Published July 18, 2014)
Upcoming Activities and NASA TV Coverage
Monday, July 21
  • Kennedy Center Operations & Checkout Building Renamed in Honor of Neil Armstrong. NASA TV will air live coverage of the renaming of the center’s Operations and Checkout Building in honor of Armstrong, who passed away in 2012. The renaming ceremony will include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Center Director Robert Cabana, and Apollo 11’s Collins, Aldrin and astronaut Jim Lovell, who was the mission’s back-up commander. International Space Station NASA astronauts Steve Swanson, who is the current station commander, and Reid Wiseman, also will take part in the ceremony from their orbiting laboratory 260 miles above Earth. Kennedy’s Operations and Checkout Building has played a vital role in NASA’s spaceflight history. It was used during the Apollo program to process and test the command, service and lunar modules. Today, the facility is being used to process and assemble NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which the agency will use to send astronauts to an asteroid in the 2020s and Mars in the 2030s. [Media Advisory]
  • NEEMO Mission Begins. July 21 is the first day of the 18th NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission. NEEMO is a NASA analog mission that sends groups of astronauts, engineers, and scientists to live in Aquarius, an undersea research station. NEEMO 18 will last nine days and will focus on studies in behavioral health and performance, human health issues, and habitability.  Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will command NEEMO 18. He will be joined by NASA astronauts Jeanette Epps and Mark Vande Hei and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet. [Press Release]
  • NASA Posts Begin on CBS This Morning’s Instagram Account. Every day this week, a NASA image will be posted on the CBS This Morning Instagram account. [Instagram]
  • Departure of the Progress 55 Cargo Craft from the International Space Station. NASA Television will broadcast live the departure of an unpiloted Russian cargo spacecraft from the International Space Station (ISS). ISS Progress 55 arrived at the orbiting laboratory in April and will undock from the space station’s Pirs docking compartment at 5:44 p.m. EDT on July 21. NASA TV coverage of the undocking will begin at 5:30 p.m. The cargo ship will undergo several days of engineering tests in orbit before being commanded to reenter Earth’s atmosphere during which it will burn up over the Pacific Ocean. [Media Advisory]
  • 10:15 a.m. - Renaming Ceremony for the KSC Operations and Checkout Building (includes in-flight downlink from the ISS at 10:25 a.m. ET) (all channels)
  • 11:30 a.m. - Space Station Live (all channels)
  • 5:30 p.m. - Coverage of the ISS Progress 55 Cargo Ship Undocking from the ISS (all channels)
Tuesday, July 22
  • 3 p.m. - Google+ Hangout: “The Big, Bad & Beautiful Universe with Chandra.” “In fifteen years of operation, the Chandra X-ray Observatory has given us a view of the universe that is largely hidden from telescopes sensitive only to visible light. Chandra has captured galaxy clusters – the largest gravitationally bound objects in the universe – in the process of forming, and provided the best evidence yet that the cosmos is dominated by a mysterious substance called dark matter.” [Google+]
Wednesday, July 23
  • 8 a.m. - Live Interviews with Crew Members of the NEEMO Mission. Four astronauts who will be living 62 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean will be available to answer questions during satellite interviews from inside an underwater habitat from 8 to 8:45 a.m. EDT Wednesday. [Media Advisory]
  • Launch of the Progress 56 Cargo Craft to the International Space Station. The ISS Progress 56 resupply ship will launch at 5:44 p.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (3:44 a.m. local time on July 24), with about  5,700 pounds of food, fuel and supplies for the station’s Expedition 40 crew. Launch coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. Progress 56 will make its four-orbit, six-hour trip to the space station and dock at 11:30 p.m. Docking coverage will begin at 11 p.m. [Media Advisory]
  • 8 a.m. - Live Interviews with the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) Crew in the “Aquarius” Underwater Research Vessel (all channels)
  • 5:30 p.m. - Coverage of the Launch of the ISS Progress 56 Cargo Ship from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan (all channels)
  • 11 p.m. - Coverage of the Docking of the ISS Progress 56 Cargo Ship to the ISS (all channels)
Thursday, July 24
  • 6 p.m. - NASA Panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego: “NASA’s Next Giant Leap.” On Thursday, which is the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11′s return to Earth, the agency will host a panel discussion — called NASA’s Next Giant Leap — from Comic-Con International in San Diego, California. Moderated by actor Seth Green, the panel includes Aldrin, NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green, JPL systems engineer Bobak Ferdowsi, and NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who will talk about Orion and the Space Launch System rocket, which will carry humans on America’s next great adventure in space. NASA will host a media availability with agency representatives following the Comic-Con panel. [Press Release]
  • 10 a.m. - Space Station Live (all channels)
  • 11:20 - ISS Expedition 40 In-Flight Event with the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology (all channels)
News Highlights
There have been hundreds of articles about the 45th Anniversary of Apollo 11, including pieces from ForbesNBC NewsPBS News Hour, and MashableThe Houston Chronicle covered NASA’s social media efforts around the anniversary and the Associated Press reported on the renaming of the Kennedy Center Operations and Checkout Building in honor of Neil Armstrong.
Administrator Bolden appeared on CNN on July 16 and on CSPAN on July 18.
The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostCNN, and the National Journal are some of the outlets that covered an event hosted by NASA on Monday, July 14, about the search for life in the universe.
Press Releases & Web Features July 14-18
NASA Seeks Proposals for Europa Mission Science Instruments (July 15)
NASA has issued an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for proposals about science instruments that could be carried aboard a future mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa. Selected instruments could address fundamental questions about the icy moon and the search for life beyond Earth. LINK
NASA Turns Over Next-Generation Air Traffic Management Tool to Federal Aviation Administration (July 15)
A new NASA-developed computer software tool designed to aid air traffic controllers was presented to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during a ceremony Monday at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The Terminal Sequencing and Spacing (TSS) technology will enable air traffic controllers to better manage the spacing between aircraft as they fly more efficient approaches into airports, saving both time and fuel and reducing emissions. TSS is the another step in NASA’s support of the development of a Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, which is a joint multi-agency and industry initiative to modernize and upgrade the nation’s air traffic control system. LINK
Cygnus Delivers Science, Station Supplies (July 16)
The Expedition 40 crew welcomed more than a ton and a half of science, supplies and spacewalking equipment to the International Space Station Wednesday with the arrival of Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo spacecraft. LINK
NASA Rover’s Images Show Laser Flash on Martian Rock (July 16)
Flashes appear on a baseball-size Martian rock in a series of images taken Saturday, July 12 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the arm of NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover. The flashes occurred while the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument fired multiple laser shots to investigate the rock’s composition. LINK
NASA Begins Engine Test Project for Space Launch System Rocket (July 17)
Engineers have taken a crucial step in preparing to test parts of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will send humans to new destinations in the solar system. They installed on Thursday an RS-25 engine on the A-1 Test Stand at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The Stennis team will perform developmental and flight certification testing of the RS-25 engine, a modified version of the space shuttle main engine that powered missions into space from 1981 to 2011… Early tests on the engine will collect data on the performance of its new advanced engine controller and other modifications. LINK
NASA Kicks Off Field Campaign to Probe Ocean Ecology, Carbon Cycle (July 17)
NASA embarks this week on a coordinated ship and aircraft observation campaign off the Atlantic coast of the United States, an effort to advance space-based capabilities for monitoring microscopic plants that form the base of the marine food chain. Phytoplankton, tiny ocean plants that absorb carbon dioxide and deliver oxygen to Earth’s atmosphere, play a major role in the global cycling of atmospheric carbon between the ocean and the atmosphere. NASA has long used satellites to make observations of the concentration of phytoplankton worldwide, but new types of tools are needed if scientists are to understand how and why different species and concentrations of phytoplankton change from year to year. For three weeks, NASA’s Ship-Aircraft Bio-Optical Research (SABOR) experiment will bring together marine and atmospheric scientists to tackle the optical issues associated with satellite observations of phytoplankton. LINK
A Ten-Year Endeavor: NASA’s Aura and Climate Change (July 17)
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this week, NASA’s Aura satellite and its four onboard instruments measure some of the climate agents in the atmosphere including greenhouse gases, clouds and dust particles. These global datasets provide clues that help scientists understand how Earth’s climate has varied and how it will continue to change. LINK
Astronauts to Test Free-Flying “Housekeeper” Robots (July 17)
Inspired by science fiction, three bowling ball-size free-flying Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying inside the International Space Station since 2006. These satellites provide a test bed for development and research, each having its own power, propulsion, computer, navigation equipment, and physical and electrical connections for hardware and sensors for various experiments. LINK
Rosetta Spacecraft Approaching Twofold Comet (July 17)
As the European Space Agency’s spacecraft Rosetta is slowly approaching its destination, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet is again proving to be full of surprises. New images obtained by OSIRIS, the onboard scientific imaging system, confirm the body’s peculiar shape hinted at in earlier pictures. Comet 67P is obviously different from other comets visited so far. LINK
OCO-2 Data to Lead Scientists Forward into the Past (July 18)
NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, which launched on July 2, will soon be providing about 100,000 high-quality measurements each day of carbon dioxide concentrations from around the globe. Atmospheric scientists are excited about that. But to understand the processes that control the amount of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, they need to know more than just where carbon dioxide is now. They need to know where it has been. It takes more than great data to figure that out. LINK
Robonaut Upgrades and Cargo Craft Ops for Station Crew (July 18)
The six-person Expedition 40 crew of the International Space Station closed out a productive workweekFriday with more upgrades for a humanoid robot, station maintenance and preparations for the arrival of a Russian cargo vehicle. Commander Steve Swanson focused his attention primarily on mobility upgrades for the station’s robotic crew member, Robonaut 2. Since arriving aboard the station in May 2011 during the STS-134 space shuttle mission, Robonaut has been put through a series of increasingly complex tasks to test the feasibility of a humanoid robot taking over routine and mundane chores or even assisting a spacewalker outside the station. LINK