Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NASA Presents Challenge to Top Chef Contestants


A new dish is being prepared for astronauts working in space. Bravo TV's Emmy-award winning reality show "Top Chef" will feature a special challenge for the five remaining "chef'testants." The winning contestant will have his or her recipe prepared by NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and flown on a future space shuttle mission.

Food preparation and taste have come a long way since the Apollo era. Today, the menu for astronauts includes 180 food and beverage items. These include tomato basil soup, chicken fajitas, shrimp cocktail, scrambled eggs and beef tips with mushrooms. They can also munch on nuts, granola bars and cookies. Beverages come in powdered form and include coffee, tea, apple cider, orange juice and lemonade.

As much as possible, NASA tries to provide astronauts with meals that look and taste like those on Earth. Crew members continually say that when they're in such an unfamiliar environment so far away, food is one of the main things that reminds them of home.

On Sept. 1, the chefs will participate in a challenge to create a tasty meal for the astronauts. They will be restricted by the same nutritional guidelines that NASA food scientists follow in the Space Food Systems Laboratory in Houston.

This episode will feature the space program with portions shot at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The “Top Chef” production crew, accompanied by head judge Tom Colicchio and the five contestants, visited Goddard and filmed in the Network Integration Center.

Rumor has it that former Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin and current astronauts Sandy Magnus and Leland Melvin will make appearances.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/behindscenes/top_chef_challenge.html

Monday, August 30, 2010

Galaxy at the Edge

Spiral galaxy NGC 4921 presently is estimated to be 320 million light years distant. This image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is being used to identify key stellar distance markers known as Cepheid variable stars. The magnificent spiral NGC 4921 has been informally dubbed anemic because of its low rate of star formation and low surface brightness. Visible in the image are, from the center, a bright nucleus, a bright central bar, a prominent ring of dark dust, blue clusters of recently formed stars, several smaller companion galaxies, unrelated galaxies in the far distant universe, and unrelated stars in our Milky Way Galaxy.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1748.html

Sunday, August 29, 2010

U2 And NASA Create Video To Celebrate Collaboration

NASA and U2 released a commemorative video highlighting a year's worth of collaboration in space and on the Irish rock band's 360 Degree tour.

U2 approached NASA in 2009 with an idea to include a dialogue between the band and the crew of the International Space Station during U2's world tour. The astronauts of Expedition 20, the crew then living aboard the space station, agreed to participate and spoke with U2 several times before recording a video segment the band incorporated into its concerts.

The space station crew members were Michael Barratt of NASA, Frank De Winne of the European Space Agency, Bob Thirsk of the Canadian Space Agency, Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Gennady Padalka and Roman Romanenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency.

"Working with U2 is atypical for NASA," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Space Operations. "By combining their world tour with the space station's out-of-this-world mission, more people -- and different people than our normal target audiences -- learned about the International Space Station and the important work we are doing in orbit."

Speaking onstage in Houston last year, Bono said, "These are the very best people in the world -- dedicated to figuring how our little planet exists in this cosmos we call home." De Winne, and Romanenko attended U2's performance in Moscow on Wednesday and met with the band before the show.

U2.com created the video and presented it to NASA to document the collaboration between the band and the space agency.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/shuttle_station/features/U2.html

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Islands of Four Mountains


The picturesque, but snow-capped volcanoes, composing the Islands of the Four Mountains in Alaska's Aleutian Island chain look suspiciously like an alien world in this August 2010 image from the ASTER camera aboard NASA's orbiting Terra satellite.

The islands contain restless Mt. Cleveland, an active volcano currently being watched to see if it emits an ash cloud that could affect air travel over parts of North America. A close look at Mt. Cleveland, seen near the image center, shows red vegetation (false color), a white snow-covered peak, a light plume of gas and ash, and dark lanes where ash and debris fell or flowed. Millions of volcanoes have likely been active over the turbulent history of the Earth's surface, while about 20 volcanoes are erupting even today, at any given time.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1746.html

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Artemis Spacecraft First to Enter New Type of Orbit


The full Moon yesterday evening helped light the way for NASA's ARTEMIS-P1 to become the first spacecraft successfully placed into an Earth-Moon libration orbit.

At 12:33 a.m. on August 25 NASA engineers, in association with the University of Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory operations facility, performed a propulsion maneuver to capture ARTEMIS-P1 into the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrangian point, located on the far side of the Moon from Earth about 38,100 miles (61,300 km) above the lunar surface. The orbit is unique because it relies on a precise balancing of the Sun, Earth, and Moon’s gravity.

In October, its sister spacecraft – ARTEMIS-P2 – will be captured into the Earth-Moon L1 Lagrangian point located between the Earth and Moon.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/sunearthsystem/main/News082510-artemis.html

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Build a Life-Sized Model and Real Giant NASA Space Telescope


It takes many years to build a space telescope or a satellite and years to put one together. However, when it comes assembling and disassembling the life-sized model of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, it takes a couple of days. That's how long it took to assemble the Webb model in New York City recently.

Assembling a Life-Sized Model

The full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope was built by the prime contractor, Northrop Grumman, to provide a better understanding of the size, scale and complexity of this satellite. It was set up in New York City's Battery Park for the 2010 World Science Festival, which ran June 1- June 6.

The life-sized model is constructed mainly of aluminum and steel, weighs 12,000 lbs., and is approximately 80 feet long, 40 feet wide and 40 feet tall. It was specifically designed for an environment subject to gravity and weather. A specially manufactured material imported from France called "Ferrari recontraint" allows the sunshield to 'breathe.' The model requires 2 trucks to ship it over land, and assembly takes a crew of 12 approximately four days.

How Real Satellites/Space Telescopes Come About

It takes years to bring a real large space telescope from basic concept to hardware reality. First, a scientist comes up with an idea to study some aspect of the Earth or the cosmos. The idea is discussed, reviewed and developed by committees of scientists. It is proposed to NASA, who makes decisions on what missions to go forth on, and which missions to pass on. If a mission is selected for study a timeline is created to develop the mission.

One of the most difficult aspects of creating a new mission is convincing others to fund it. Once a mission is funded, the team of scientists and engineers "pitching" the mission can then investigate how it could come together. Later, NASA usually selects a prime contractor to help design the telescope and other systems that will fly on the satellite. Northrop Grumman was selected to build components for the Webb telescope. The instruments, or cameras, on the telescope are selected as well, with teams of scientists to watch over the design.

The design process usually includes a number of different designs, which are all tested to see which would yield the best result for the type of object the instrument would study. For example, various types of infrared cameras may be developed and tested, and the one that gives a scientist the best result, would be chosen to be built as a test unit.

Engineering Test Units

Engineering test units, or ETUs are created before an actual instrument is built, so that engineers and scientists can make sure it would work properly. ETUs are a replica of the flight unit that can perform certain flight functions for testing purposes. ETUs are also used when engineers are practicing installation of an instrument into a satellite's mainframe or "bus." The outcome of the tests on ETUs may lead to a change in handling procedures of the actual flight instrument, but not a change in its flight construction.

Once the ETUs test successful, then the actual instruments that will fly aboard a satellite or space telescope can be manufactured. Those instruments go through their own set of rigorous tests by the manufacturing contractor, NASA and other partners. On the Webb telescope, NASA is partnering with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

Testing the System

Satellite and space telescope instruments can endure harsh temperature swings as big as 200 degrees Fahrenheit, micro-meteor impacts and exposure to solar radiation. On top of that, before a spacecraft like the Webb can operate in orbit, it has to survive a ride on a rocket to get there. That's where environmental testing chambers like the ones at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., come into play. Hardware gets run through NASA Goddard's centrifuge, acoustics and thermal vacuum chambers to ensure they can endure the rigors of launch.

The centrifuge simulates the increased feeling of gravity's pull during a launch. For astronauts, that's normally a few minutes at two or three times the force of Earth's gravity, measured in Gs. The Webb telescope can experience 6-7 G's due to the Ariane 5 rocket's combined acceleration and vibration. The Webb telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 ECA rocket. The launch vehicle is part of the European contribution to the mission.

Launching a rocket carrying a satellite or space telescope creates extraordinarily loud noise, so engineers use an Acoustic Test Chamber to make sure an instrument can handle it safely. In Goddard's 42-foot-tall chamber, technicians expose payloads to the noise of a launch. To do that, they rely on 6-foot-tall speakers. The speakers (more accurately called horns) use an altering flow of gaseous nitrogen to produce a sound level as high as 143 decibels for one-minute tests. That's about the level of sound heard standing next to a jet engine during takeoff.

The hardware is also tested in the thermal vacuum which exposes them to conditions they will experience in space. The chamber has massive mechanical vacuum pumps and cryopumps to ensure that the hard vacuum of space is simulated in the test chamber. The cryopumps use gaseous helium to condense remaining gases out of the chamber once the mechanical pumps have done their work. The two types of pumps work together to eliminate all but the tiniest trace of air in the chamber, down to about a billionth of Earth's normal atmospheric pressure.

Because the Webb telescope is operating in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum it is designed to operate at very cold temperatures. To simulate this environment an additional cooling system, a helium refrigeration system, was added so the thermal vacuum chamber could reach temperatures in the -413 Fahrenheit (F) range. "The ISIM structure was tested in our thermal vacuum chamber down to about 26 Kelvin, or minus 413 F," said Jon F. Lawrence, Webb telescope Mechanical Systems Lead Engineer/Launch Vehicle Liaison at NASA Goddard.

This test program starts at the lowest level of assembly, instrument or spacecraft components and is repeated at each next level of assembly. Once the instruments pass these tests they are all put together into the structure which holds them and the unit is tested again. The instrument structure is connected to the telescope and the whole observatory is tested yet again. There isn't a vacuum chamber large enough to hold the entire Webb observatory at NASA Goddard, so the telescope will travel to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to be tested in a chamber that was originally built for testing the Apollo command module to simulate the trip to the moon. The next stop after that is launch into deep space.

Currently, ETUs or actual flight hardware for the Webb telescope are being tested in various ways.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the next-generation premier space observatory, exploring deep space phenomena from distant galaxies to nearby planets and stars. The Webb Telescope will give scientists clues about the formation of the universe and the evolution of our own solar system, from the first light after the Big Bang to the formation of star systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth.

The Webb Telescope project is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

For More information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/webb-build.html

Perseids Complete 2010 August Light Show


The 2010 Perseid meteor shower is drawing to a close after painting brilliant streaks across the August nighttime skies. This year's shower began around July 17, peaked August 12-13 and will be officially over by August 24.

"The Perseids are a great shower, one I look forward to every year. And this year didn’t disappoint!" said Dr. Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, located at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

More About the Perseids

The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for at least 2,000 years and is associated with the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years or so. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet's debris. These bits of ice and dust travel around 132,000 mph, burning up about 56 miles overhead in the Earth's atmosphere to create one of the best meteor showers of the year. The shower is called the "Perseids" because the meteors appear to come from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

The Perseids can be of any brightness, but most are as bright as Polaris – the North Star -- or brighter. This meteor shower, however, is known for producing "fireball" meteors that appear at least as bright as the planet Venus as they burn up in the night sky. The bits of Swift-Tuttle debris range in size from one millimeter to several centimeters – the larger the particle hitting the Earth's atmosphere, the brighter the meteor trail. The streak of light in a meteor trail isn’t a view of the particle, but the ionization trail. Ionization happens as the speeding particle causes electrons to be ripped away from atoms in the atmosphere. The meteor trails from a Perseid meteor can be many miles long and remain visible for several seconds.

Missed the Perseids? December Brings the Geminids

If you missed the Perseids this year, another good meteor shower is coming in December. The Geminids will happen between Dec. 7-17, with the best viewing after moonset Dec. 13-14. The forecast is for 50-120 meteors per hour at the peak on Dec. 14 at roughly 2 in the morning. The Geminids are named for the constellation Gemini, the direction from which the meteors appear to originate.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/watchtheskies/perseids2010.html

Sunday, August 22, 2010

NASA Bids Fond Farewell to Summer’s Students and Teachers


The summer may end but its memories will last forever. This was the sentiment at a farewell commencement last week at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., where hundreds of undergraduate interns, graduate fellows, and faculty from higher education programs and their mentors were acknowledged for jobs well done.

As the United States enters the second century of flight, NASA has committed itself to excellence in science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM) education to ensure that the next generation of Americans can meet our country’s future challenges. To help meet the demands of a technical workforce, NASA designed more than a dozen summer Higher Education projects that target America’s students and educators at all levels, but especially those in traditionally underserved and underrepresented communities.

This summer, hundreds of students and teachers came to Ames to participate in NASA’s STEM activities and learn how they are applied to its missions and technology programs. As an added benefit, NASA scientists, researchers and engineers assumed the roles of mentor and educator, developing and supervising multi-week summer learning programs. NASA focuses on engaging and retaining students in STEM education programs to ensure their success in a demanding and competitive workforce.

“NASA is about the future. We do three things here. We do science. We revolutionized physics with Dr. John Mather’s Noble-Prize-winning work on the Big Bang. We do things on Earth. For instance, we’re addressing how to study climate change. We also do human flight research. We’re on the verge of sending humans to another planet,” said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. at the commencement. “To you students, I want to say: the future is the limit. You are our replacement.”

This was a wonderful day. Students and mentors gathered together to celebrate their achievements and say “we’re so glad we got to know you,” “thank you” and “best wishes.” Students participated in a variety of NASA’s higher education programs. Although education programs were diverse, students seemed similarly excited and inspired by the summer’s activities and events. After a ten-week tenure, NASA Ames acknowledged them as our next generation of explorers, innovators and entrepreneurs.

“I never did any research before. At Ames, I learned a new computer program, which I used to model engine data that is scalable for a new aircraft design,” said Adam Cortese, a graduate student at Georgia Technology University, Atlanta. “I really learned a lot this summer. The experience showed me how the aircraft industry works.” Cortese entered NASA’s first rotorcraft design competition at school and, consequently, was accepted into NASA’s Education Associates Program (EAP).

EAP is a unique workforce development education program. Its students are given hands-on experience with NASA scientists, engineers and program managers on a range of NASA projects and missions, and they also receive academic credit for the experience.

Another EAP student shared his appreciation of the NASA experience.

“At school, I was working on a NASA-funded project, called N+2. It’s a futuristic commercial airline that mounts the engines on top of the wing to make it quieter, and the wings are more blended with the body. My work on N+2 is what brought me to Ames,” said Bryan Castanza, a graduate student at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. “In the future, I’d like to work at NASA Ames to flight test engines, or maybe start my own company some day.”

Serving underserved and underrepresented STEM students is the focus of many NASA higher education programs. One such program is Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology Project (MUST). Funded by NASA, it is a joint partnership between the Hispanic College Fund, the United Negro College Fund Special Programs and the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers.

These students also were present and given the opportunity to do rewarding work at Ames. “At Ames, I worked like a researcher. In school, I followed directions. I was taught how to do things. Here, I was allowed to develop my own method of creating a compound. I was given a goal to make cadmium sulfide. I did the literature search, and selected the chemical to make it. I was given the freedom to be creative here,” said Olivia Lenz, an undergraduate chemistry student from Seattle Pacific University, Wash. who is a MUST program participant.

While learning experiences were designed to benefit students and teachers in the higher education programs, mentors also claimed satisfaction with the summer’s events. When asked to comment on mentoring these participants, they seemed very pleased with the amount and quality of the work performed over the summer. Experiences were diverse but similarly positive.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ to my students,” said Pat Cowing, a psychology physiologist at Ames. “They worked hard and gave me a lot of support. I literally could not have done this job without their help this summer.”

As the ceremony drew to a close, STEM participants and mentors were asked to share their memorable experiences at NASA, or what important lessons they had learned in the last ten weeks. Responses were similarly hopeful and sincere.

“I really wanted to do well this summer. It was my one shot, and I wanted to take it,” said one student of his tenure at NASA. “I met great people here, and had some really exciting moments. I will definitely share my NASA experience with the world.”

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/features/farewell_interns.html

Friday, August 20, 2010

History-Making Mars Mission Launched 35 Years Ago


Thrust from a Titan 3/Centaur rocket launched NASA's Viking 1 spacecraft on a 505-million-mile journey to Mars on Aug. 20, 1975. Viking 2 followed three weeks later.

Each mission included both an orbiter and a lander, and all four components accomplished successes. On July 20, 1976, the Viking 1 lander returned the first photograph taken on the surface of Mars. That lander in a region called Chryse Planitia operated until Nov. 13, 1982. The Viking 2 lander operated in the Utopia Planitia region from Sept. 3, 1976 to April 11, 1980. The orbiters sent home images of the entire planet at resolutions of 300 meters or less per pixel.

For more information visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-273

Thursday, August 19, 2010

NASA's LRO Reveals 'Incredible Shrinking Moon'


Newly discovered cliffs in the lunar crust indicate the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today, according to a team analyzing new images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. The results provide important clues to the moon's recent geologic and tectonic evolution.

The moon formed in a chaotic environment of intense bombardment by asteroids and meteors. These collisions, along with the decay of radioactive elements, made the moon hot. The moon cooled off as it aged, and scientists have long thought the moon shrank over time as it cooled, especially in its early history. The new research reveals relatively recent tectonic activity connected to the long-lived cooling and associated contraction of the lunar interior.

"We estimate these cliffs, called lobate scarps, formed less than a billion years ago, and they could be as young as a hundred million years," said Dr. Thomas Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Washington. While ancient in human terms, it is less than 25 percent of the moon's current age of more than four billion years. "Based on the size of the scarps, we estimate the distance between the moon's center and its surface shrank by about 300 feet," said Watters, lead author of a paper on this research appearing in Science August 20.

"These exciting results highlight the importance of global observations for understanding global processes," said Dr. John Keller, Deputy Project Scientist for LRO at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "As the LRO mission continues in to a new phase, with emphasis on science measurements, our ability to create inventories of lunar geologic features will be a powerful tool for understanding the history of the moon and the solar system."

The scarps are relatively small; the largest is about 300 feet high and extends for several miles or so, but typical lengths are shorter and heights are more in the tens of yards (meters) range. The team believes they are among the freshest features on the moon, in part because they cut across small craters. Since the moon is constantly bombarded by meteors, features like small craters (those less than about 1,200 feet across) are likely to be young because they are quickly destroyed by other impacts and don’t last long. So, if a small crater has been disrupted by a scarp, the scarp formed after the crater and is even younger. Even more compelling evidence is that large craters, which are likely to be old, don't appear on top any of the scarps, and the scarps look crisp and relatively undegraded.

Lobate scarps on the moon were discovered during the Apollo missions with analysis of pictures from the high-resolution Panoramic Camera installed on Apollo 15, 16, and 17. However, these missions orbited over regions near the lunar equator, and were only able to photograph some 20 percent of the lunar surface, so researchers couldn't be sure the scarps were not just the result of local activity around the equator. The team found 14 previously undetected scarps in the LRO images, seven of which are at high latitudes (more than 60 degrees). This confirms that the scarps are a global phenomenon, making a shrinking moon the most likely explanation for their wide distribution, according to the team.

As the moon contracted, the mantle and surface crust were forced to respond, forming thrust faults where a section of the crust cracks and juts out over another. Many of the resulting cliffs, or scarps, have a semi-circular or lobe-shaped appearance, giving rise to the term "lobate scarps". Scientists aren't sure why they look this way; perhaps it's the way the lunar soil (regolith) expresses thrust faults, according to Watters.

Lobate scarps are found on other worlds in our solar system, including Mercury, where they are much larger. "Lobate scarps on Mercury can be over a mile high and run for hundreds of miles," said Watters. Massive scarps like these lead scientists to believe that Mercury was completely molten as it formed. If so, Mercury would be expected to shrink more as it cooled, and thus form larger scarps, than a world that may have been only partially molten with a relatively small core. Our moon has more than a third of the volume of Mercury, but since the moon's scarps are typically much smaller, the team believes the moon shrank less.

Because the scarps are so young, the moon could have been cooling and shrinking very recently, according to the team. Seismometers emplaced by the Apollo missions have recorded moonquakes. While most can be attributed to things like meteorite strikes, the Earth's gravitational tides, and day/night temperature changes, it's remotely possible that some moonquakes might be associated with ongoing scarp formation, according to Watters. The team plans to compare photographs of scarps by the Apollo Panoramic Cameras to new images from LRO to see if any have changed over the decades, possibly indicating recent activity.

While Earth's tides are most likely not strong enough to create the scarps, they could contribute to their appearance, perhaps influencing their orientation, according to Watters. During the next few years, the team hopes to use LRO's high-resolution Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs) to build up a global, highly detailed map of the moon. This could identify additional scarps and allow the team to see if some have a preferred orientation or other features that might be associated with Earth's gravitational pull.

"The ultrahigh resolution images from the NACs are changing our view of the moon," said Dr. Mark Robinson of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., a coauthor and Principal Investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. "We've not only detected many previously unknown lunar scarps; we're also seeing much greater detail on the scarps identified in the Apollo photographs."

The research was funded by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. The team includes researchers from the Smithsonian, Arizona State, the SETI Institute, Mountain View, Calif., NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., Institut für Planetologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany, Brown University, Providence, R.I., and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LRO/news/shrinking-moon.html

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Into the Night


Researchers do not yet know what is lighting up IRAS 05437+2502, a small, faint nebula that spans only 1/18th of a full moon toward the constellation of the Taurus. Particularly enigmatic is the bright upside-down V that defines the upper edge of this floating mountain of interstellar dust.

This ghost-like nebula involves a small star-forming region filled with dark dust that was first noted in images taken by the IRAS satellite in infrared light in 1983. This recently released image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows many new details, but has not uncovered a clear cause of the bright sharp arc.

For more details visit http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1741.html

Monday, August 16, 2010

Move Over Caravaggio: Cassini's Light and Dark Moons


NASA's Cassini spacecraft has returned Saturnian moon images from its flyby late last week, revealing light and dark contrasts worthy of chiaroscuro painters like Caravaggio.

The flyby on August 13 targeted the geyser moon Enceladus, but also brought Cassini close to two other moons--Tethys and Dione.

The raw images include the best ones to date of Penelope crater on the icy moon Tethys . Penelope crater, which is 150 kilometers (90 miles) wide, is the second-largest crater on Tethys.

Cassini was also able to obtain a portrait of Enceladus over the bright arc of Saturn's atmosphere and a moody still life of one of the "tiger stripe" fissures at the Enceladus south polar region on the cusp of darkness . This particular "tiger stripe" -- which is the nickname for the fissures spewing water vapor and organic particles out into space - is called Damascus Sulcus. It was also the subject of a heat scan by Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer. Scientists are still analyzing the results.

Images of Dione highlight the moon's battered surface .

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-270

Sunday, August 15, 2010

NASA Statement on Release of NRC's 2010 Astrophysics Decadal Survey

NASA is pleased to receive the National Research Council's Astro2010 report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics*. We appreciate the science community's efforts in defining a set of compelling science objectives for space-based astrophysical research for the coming decade, and for carefully considering the cost of the initiatives the report recommends.

We look forward to assessing the report's findings and recommendations for strengthening the nation's world-class space astrophysics program. From new worlds to new physics, the coming decade of discovery leverages not only our current space observatories – such as the Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra and Fermi space telescopes – but also our planned facilities – especially those from previous decadal surveys, the James Webb Space Telescope and the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The survey calls for new facilities that expand our reach into the cosmos that will include opportunities for coordination and cooperation with other Federal agencies and international partners.

There are exciting times ahead and NASA is proud to be a part of it.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/decadal_statement.html

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cassini Hunting Enceladus 'Tigers' with Night Vision

On Aug. 13, 2010, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be flying by Saturn's moon Enceladus, shown here spewing water ice from its south polar region. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute - Full image and caption

NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be hunting for heat signatures at the "tiger stripes" in the dim south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus on Friday, Aug. 13. The closest approach will bring the spacecraft to within about 2,500 kilometers (1,600 miles) of the surface of Enceladus.

The tiger stripes -- which are actually giant fissures that spew jets of water vapor and organic particles hundreds of kilometers, or miles, out into space - are hard to see in the visible-light spectrum because winter is beginning to darken the moon's southern hemisphere. Cassini, however, has its own version of "night vision goggles" -- the composite infrared spectrometer instrument -- which can track heat even when visible light is low. The instrument will map temperatures in the transverse fractures between the tiger stripes Cairo Sulcus and Alexandria Sulcus. It will also scan part of the tiger stripe Damascus Sulcus.

The relatively high flyby allows the composite infrared spectrometer to track the tiger stripe surface smoothly throughout the flyby. That kind of coverage is more difficult at lower altitudes because the surface whooshes by very quickly.

In addition, the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer will collect data on the composition of Enceladus, and the imaging cameras will take pictures.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

For more information visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-267

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Star Wars Meets UPS as Robonaut Packed for Space


Getting into space isn't necessarily easy for astronauts, and it's not much easier for a robotic astronaut, either.

Cocooned inside an aluminum frame and foam blocks cut out to its shape, Robonaut 2, or R2, is heading to the International Space Station inside the Permanent Multipurpose Module in space shuttle Discovery's payload bay as part of the STS-133 mission.

Once in place inside the station, R2, with its humanlike hands and arms and stereo vision, is expected to perform some of the repetitive or more mundane functions inside the orbiting laboratory to free astronauts for more complicated tasks and experiments. It could one day also go along on spacewalks.

Making sure the first humanoid robot to head into space still works when it gets there has been the focus of workers at NASA's Kennedy and Johnson space centers. Engineers and technicians with decades of experience among them packing for space have spent the last few months devising a plan to secure the 330-pound machine against the fierce vibrations and intense gravity forces during launch.

"I think back in May we realized we had a huge challenge on our hands," said Michael Haddock, a mechanical engineer designing the procedures and other aspects of preparing R2 for launch, including careful crane operations inside the Space Station Processing Facility's high bay.

Though it was fast-paced, intense work, the payoff of getting to help R2 into space added extra motivation for the engineers involved.

By spaceflight standards, planning for the packing effort moved quite quickly, particularly considering R2 is perhaps the heaviest payload to be taken into space inside a cargo module.

"The mass is what's driving the crane operations, otherwise we'd be handling the robot by hand," Haddock said. "But the robot itself weighs on the order of 333 pounds and when it is installed in the structural launch enclosure, it will weigh over 500 pounds."

As they must when loading anything for spaceflight, the engineers designed the packaging so astronauts could easily remove R2 from its launch box, known by its acronym SLEEPR or Structural Launch Enclosure to Effectively Protect Robonaut.

"We were trying to do something very unique and very fast," said Scott Higginbotham, payload manager for the STS-133 mission. "And we've got the best team in the world for dealing with things like that."

There was talk of simply strapping the robot into the empty seat on the shuttle's middeck, Higginbotham said, but R2 was too heavy for that. So the teams came up with a plan to fasten R2 to a base plate and use struts to support the back and shoulders. Then dense foam will provide more support, followed by an aluminum frame. A clamshell of foam tops off the package.

Assembling the packing precisely is important for R2 because a space shuttle accelerates to more than three times the force of gravity during its eight-minute climb into orbit.

"The team had to educate ourselves, learn the uniqueness of it as well as learn how to install it into the vehicle," said Ken Koby, lead systems engineer for Boeing. "That's what the team has basically been doing every day for the last three months, educating ourselves about Robonaut."

Coincidentally, detailed analysis showed that R2's best position to withstand the launch forces will be the same as the astronauts -- facing toward the nose of the shuttle with the back taking all the weight.

"The orientation is just like the crew flies," Koby said. "The crew will be facing straight up on their backs and Robonaut will be the same direction, obviously 30 feet behind them in the module here."

Although the robot is fundamentally a very complex machine full of state-of-the-art sensors and operated by phenomenally sophisticated software, it is its shape that stirs fascination. Designed by NASA and General Motors as a robotic assistant for astronauts working in space, R2 looks like the upper torso of a sculpted bodybuilder and is topped with a helmeted head that includes two cameras to give it three-dimensional vision plus other sensors.

Its look has been compared to Star Wars bounty hunter Boba Fett, the endoskeleton from the Terminator films and the animated robot that plays football on Fox Sports.

"It's rather intimidating at first sight because of its size, its physique and you can't see its eyes," Haddock said.

"From the moment you walk into the room and see R2, it's everything you'd expect from a robot, from the gold-shield face to the thickness, the broadness of his shoulders," Koby said. "It's truly very science fiction-like, but it's all fact in this case."

It also has a pair of beefy arms and two hands, complete with four fingers and one thumb each, that can shake hands. Its programming is sensitive enough to respond to a handshake with the same amount of force as the person squeezing R2's hands. In other words, it can hold a piece of equipment in space without crushing it.

"It really grabs people's attention," said Higginbotham. "It's so incredibly cool. It can use the same tools and procedures as an astronaut."

This Robonaut was not meant to fly at first. Instead, it was strictly a developmental model to be tested and perfected on the ground. However, it was adapted for flight and has tested well for launch. That is a bit of a theme for the STS-133 mission because the Permanent Multipurpose Module that Discovery is taking to the station also was retrofitted to add more capabilities. The PMM was formerly a Multipurpose Logistics Module known as Leonardo and was built to stay in space for only short periods at a time. But its mission has changed and engineers built up its armor and added some interior features so it can be permanently attached to the station and used as more of a storage closet than the moving van first envisioned.

"Someone said this mission is anything but ordinary," said Higginbotham, "and that is a fact."

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/behindscenes/robonautpacking.html

Monday, August 9, 2010

Crew to Perform Second of Three Spacewalks Wednesday


Flight controllers and engineers continue meetings to review the results from the first spacewalk conducted Saturday by International Space Station Expedition 24 Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson and to plan for the second of what now will be three spacewalks to complete the replacement of a failed pump module on the station’s starboard truss.

In the wake of an eight-hour, three-minute spacewalk Saturday that fell short of removing the failed pump module due to a leak in the fourth of four ammonia line connectors hooked up to the old pump, mission operations and station program officials laid out a series of procedures for Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson to perform at the beginning of the second spacewalk Wednesday designed to greatly reduce, or eliminate the possibility of ammonia leaking from the final fluid connector – called M3 – when it is demated to set the stage for the failed pump to be removed from the truss.

The plan would call for Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson to close other quick disconnect lines where the S1 and S0 trusses meet that will isolate ammonia upstream in the system from the final connector, preventing any recurrence of leakage while the new pump module is being installed. Additional work to configure lines and valves would be conducted by the spacewalkers prior to the final electrical demating of the old pump so it can be parked on a stowage bracket on the station’s Mobile Base System.

The goal Wednesday will be to remove the old pump and stow it on a payload attachment bracket on the Mobile Base System on the station’s truss while preparing the replacement pump for its removal from a stowage platform adjacent to the Quest airlock and its installation on the truss during a third spacewalk targeted for no earlier than next Sunday.

Mission and station managers are continuing meetings today to prepare for the second spacewalk before the station Mission Management Team meets Tuesday morning to provide its final approval to proceed.

The station’s systems remain in good condition operating on the second of two cooling loops available for the complex and the crew is well rested following Saturday’s spacewalk, spending the last two days recharging spacesuit batteries, reviewing spacewalk procedures and configuring tools for Wednesday’s excursion.

NASA TV coverage of the second spacewalk on Wednesday will begin at 6 a.m. EDT. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin around 6:55 a.m.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Sunday, August 8, 2010

NASA Dryden’s INSPIRE Interns Learn Flight Testing First-hand


Eight high school students who participated in the INSPIRE internship program at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center this summer learned first-hand about the start-to-finish process of flight testing experimental aircraft.

NASA Dryden controls and dynamics engineer Brian Taylor, who served as mentor to the INSPIRE interns, said the students modeled, tested, and analyzed the aerodynamic and mass properties of a large model aircraft called the Dryden Remotely Operated Integrated Drone – or DROID – while going through the Dryden flight-approval process. The process included a series of technical reviews, safety analyses, development of mission rules and flight operations before conducting actual data-collection flights.

They then completed two days of flight tests in late July totaling nearly two hours of flight time on the DROID aircraft. All planned test points were completed during 13 short flights at the Muroc Model Masters model aircraft flight operations area on the north side of Rosamond Dry Lake. The students then analyzed the data transmitted from sensors on the aircraft, comparing the results to their models.

While one group of students flight tested the aircraft to determine the takeoff distance, best rate of climb, thrust required for level flight, and lift to drag ratios, the other group performed inertia swings on the aircraft in order to determine its mass properties.

NASA Dryden operations engineer Leslie Monforton of Tybrin Corp., who flew the aircraft for the students’ flight-test project, found the experience rewarding.

It was a privilege working with these gifted students, both in coaching and flying the DROID for them,” she said. “They all will have a great future.”

INSPIRE – an acronym for Interdisciplinary National Science Project Incorporating Research and Education Experience – is a multi-tiered year-round program designed for students in ninth-to-12th grades who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and careers.

The INSPIRE summer internship program provides the opportunity for students interested in careers in engineering to get direct project experience prior to entering their senior year of high school or first semester of college,” said Kendra Titus, Student & Faculty Programs Coordinator at NASA Dryden’s Office of Education.

The DROID aircraft used in the INSPIRE flight tests is one of four such aircraft at Dryden used for research and for pilot training on remote-controlled aircraft.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/Features/inspire_interns.html

Friday, August 6, 2010

Great Ball of Fire


On August 1, 2010, almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. This image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory of the news-making solar event on August 1 shows the C3-class solar flare (white area on upper left), a solar tsunami (wave-like structure, upper right), multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection and more.

This multi-wavelength extreme ultraviolet snapshot from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sun's northern hemisphere in mid-eruption. Different colors in the image represent different gas temperatures. Earth's magnetic field is still reverberating from the solar flare impact on August 3, 2010, which sparked aurorae as far south as Wisconsin and Iowa in the United States. Analysts believe a second solar flare is following behind the first flare and could re-energize the fading geomagnetic storm and spark a new round of Northern Lights.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1732.html

Thursday, August 5, 2010

NASA's Hurricane Quest Set To Begin


In less than two weeks, NASA scientists will begin their quest for the holy grail of hurricane research.

The exact conditions required to kickstart a tropical depression into a hurricane largely remain a mystery. Though scientists know many of the ingredients needed, it is unclear what processes ultimately drive depressions to form into the intense, spinning storms that lash the U.S. coasts each summer.

"Hurricane formation and intensification is really the ‘holy grail' of this field," said Ed Zipser, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah and one of three program scientists helping to lead the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) experiment this summer.

With GRIP, NASA's first domestic hurricane project since 2001, the agency has assembled the largest-ever hurricane research experiment to investigate these questions. Three NASA planes, multiple NASA satellites and four planes from research partners NOAA and NSF will combine to make unprecedented measurements of tropical storms as they are forming (or dying out) and intensifying (or weakening). The intense scientific focus on these meteorological processes could provide new insight into the fundamental physics of hurricanes and ultimately improve our ability to forecast the strength of a storm at landfall. Predictions of hurricane strength continue to lag behind the accuracy of storm track predictions, but accurate predictions of both are needed for the best possible preparation before landfall.

With each aircraft outfitted with multiple instruments, scientists will be taking a closer look at hurricanes with hopes of gaining insight into which physical processes or large-scale environmental factors are the key triggers in hurricane formation and intensification.

The GRIP fleet includes NASA's Global Hawk, the unmanned drone built by Northrop Grumman and also used by the U.S. Air Force, WB-57 and DC-8. The NASA aircraft will be deployed from Florida (DC-8), Texas (WB-57) and California (Global Hawk) and will fly at varying altitudes over tropical storms in an attempt to capture them at different stages of development.

"One of the potential data-gathering breakthroughs of GRIP could be to continuously observe a tropical storm or hurricane for 24 hours straight, by including aircraft from all three agencies," said GRIP Project Manager Marilyn Vasques. The Global Hawk alone could fly continuously over a storm system for up to 16 hours.

While geostationary satellites used for forecasting can observe the basic movement of a storm across the Atlantic, these aircraft instruments will be able to "see" below the cloud-tops and uncover what is happening in the internal structure of the storm.

"That's what makes this really unique, the ability to observe one of these storms up close as it changes over its life-cycle. Before we've only been able to get a few hours of data at a time," Vasques said. "We want to see storms that become hurricanes, and we want to see some that don't become hurricanes, so we can compare the data. The same is true for hurricane intensification."

"When you think of analyzing it later, we want to break down what the temperatures were, what the winds were doing, what the aerosol concentration was, to see if we can start detecting a pattern," Vasques said.

The variety and number of instruments will allow scientists to investigate multiple science questions at once: What role does dust from the Sahara play in hurricane formation? Can lightning be used as a predictor of a storm's change in intensity? Do widespread environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature, precipitation and clouds lead to cyclone formation, or are smaller-scale interactions between some of these same elements the cause?

Scientists at NASA and the many academic and government research partners in GRIP are excited to put several new state-of-the-art hurricane observing instruments in the field. A powerful microwave radiometer and a radar will provide insight into the massive "hot towers" of convection found in cyclones, and a NASA-designed and –built lidar (laser radar) will provide the first-ever measurements of wind speed in three dimensions – not just east, west, north and south, but also vertically.

These instrument advancements, in addition to the deployment of the Global Hawk in a major Earth science campaign for the first time, have NASA scientists anxious to take to the field.

"This is one of the most exciting points in my career," said Ramesh Kakar, GRIP program manager and lead of NASA's recently formed Hurricane Science Research Team. "Satellites can only get a brief glimpse of what is happening inside a hurricane, and we get very excited about seeing that. Now imagine if you could watch a storm unfold for 20 hours."

The ability to keep an eye on developing storms for that length of time will largely depend on a complex deployment of the various planes, from different locations, at different times and at different altitudes. The NASA planes have different flight ranges, with the DC-8 able to fly for eight hours, the WB-57 four hours and the Global Hawk 30 hours. Those flight ranges include the time required to get to the storm and back to home base.

"In general, when the aircraft are deployed to study potentially developing hurricanes, they will fly a basic grid pattern over the weather system," Zipser said. ‘Ideally this pattern will be repeated on consecutive days. Once planes are flying over an established hurricane, they'll fly repeatedly over the eye of the storm and covering its breadth, creating somewhat of an asterisk pattern centered on the eye. Flights on consecutive days will deliver the best cache of data on how the storm changed over time."

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/missions/grip/news/grip-quest.html

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NASA Moves Space Station Repair Spacewalk To Friday, Sets Briefings

he first of two spacewalks by NASA astronauts to replace a failed ammonia pump on the International Space Station has been delayed by 24 hours to Friday, Aug. 6. A second spacewalk is planned for Monday, Aug. 9, to complete the repairs.

Flight controllers and station managers made the decision Monday night after reviewing proposed timelines, final procedures for the repair work, and the results from a spacewalk dress rehearsal conducted in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Expedition 24 Flight Engineers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson are scheduled to perform the spacewalks. The two NASA astronauts will replace an ammonia coolant pump that failed July 31.

NASA Television coverage of both spacewalks will begin at 5 a.m. CDT. Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson are expected to begin the spacewalks from the Quest airlock at 5:55 a.m. Friday's spacewalk will be the fourth for Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson's first.

Approximately two hours after the conclusion of each spacewalk, NASA TV will broadcast a briefing from Johnson. The briefing participants will be Mike Suffredini, International Space Station program manager; Courtenay McMillan, Expedition 24 spacewalk flight director; and David Beaver, Expedition 24 spacewalk officer.

Reporters may ask questions from participating NASA locations, and should contact their preferred NASA center to confirm participation. Johnson will operate a telephone bridge for reporters with valid media credentials issued by a NASA center. Journalists planning to use the service must contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of a briefing. Phone bridge capacity is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Engineers and flight controllers continue to review data on the failure, which resulted in the loss of one of two cooling loops aboard the station. This caused a significant power down and required adjustments to provide the maximum redundancy possible for station systems. The systems are stable, and the six crew members aboard are not in any danger.

Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson originally were scheduled to perform a spacewalk to outfit the Russian Zarya module for future robotics work and prepare the station for the installation of a new U.S. permanent multipurpose module. However, because of the importance of restoring redundancy to the station's cooling and power systems, the two new spacewalks will be dedicated to the pump module replacement.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/aug/HQ_M10-107_EVA_Changes.html

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New Project Manager for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter


NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has a new project manager: Phil Varghese, who has managed another veteran NASA Mars mission - the Mars Odyssey orbiter - since 2004. Varghese has worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., since 1989.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been examining Mars with six advanced instruments since 2006. It has returned more data than the total from all other NASA missions that have flown farther than the moon.

Mars Odyssey began orbiting Mars in 2001 and is the longest-active spacecraft studying the Red Planet. Varghese previously managed the Deep Space 1 technology demonstration mission, which flew past asteroid Braille and comet Borrelly using solar-powered ion propulsion.

Varghese, a native of Kerala, India, came to the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1971 to study physics, earned his doctorate at the University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore., and then worked with computer and aerospace companies. He began his work at JPL as an engineer on NASA's Mars Observer Project. He lives in Los Angeles.

JPL's Jim Erickson managed the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project from December 2006 to February 2010, succeeding the project's original manager, Jim Graf. Erickson now manages JPL's Deep Space Network and Mission Service Planning and Management Program. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Manager Dan Johnston served as acting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project manager for the past four months.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey for NASA.

For more information visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-255

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Station in Stable Configuration After Loss of Cooling Loop

Mission Operations personnel and ISS Program management met Sunday morning to discuss the status of the loss of cooling loop A Saturday night on the International Space Station when a circuit breaker tripped just before 7 p.m. Central time Saturday night that resulted in the failure of the Pump Module for loop A that feeds ammonia to maintain the proper cooling for systems and avionics.

An attempt overnight Sunday to close the circuit breaker and restart the Pump Module was not successful.

The station is in a stable configuration with most systems receiving cooling and many systems operating with redundancy following the installation of jumper cables from the Destiny Lab’s power system overnight. The crew is not in any danger and is monitoring systems and relaxing on an otherwise off duty day.

One of two Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMG 1) that was taken off line Saturday night was spun up once again this morning, enabling the station to operate with three of four CMGs to electrically control the orientation of the outpost. Temperatures on the Main Bus Switching Units, which route power to various systems, are a little higher than normal, but well within normal parameters and are stable.

The flight control and management teams today approved a preliminary plan to replace a planned spacewalk Thursday by Expedition 24 crewmembers Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson with at least two spacewalks to swap out the failed Pump Module that resides on the station’s S1 truss. There are two spare Pump Modules on stowage platforms on the station’s truss. The replacement module under consideration for replacement resides on External Stowage Platform 2, which is adjacent to the Quest airlock. The crew is being informed that replanning for alternate spacewalk activity is underway.

Although a final decision on a new spacewalk plan is still pending engineering and timeline analysis, the most likely scenario would call for an initial spacewalk no earlier than Thursday by Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson to replace the Pump Module and structurally bolt it into place on the S1 truss, with an additional spacewalk by the duo two or three days later to mate fluid and electrical connections.

To protect for spacewalk activity later this week, the flight control team plans to vent residual ammonia in the lines between the Ammonia Tank Assembly on the S1 truss and the failed Pump Module Tuesday to prepare for the module’s eventual replacement.

The tasks originally planned for Thursday’s previously scheduled spacewalk by Wheelock and Caldwell Dyson to install a power extension cable to the Unity module prior to the delivery of the Permanent Multipurpose Module on the STS-133 mission in November and to install a Power and Data Grapple Fixture to the Zarya module to support future robotics work will be deferred to a later date.

A briefing to discuss the station’s status and spacewalk replanning efforts is scheduled Monday on NASA Television at 3 p.m. Central time originating from the Johnson Space Center with Mike Suffredini, ISS Program Manager and Courtenay McMillan, Expedition 24 Spacewalk Flight Director. This briefing replaces a previously scheduled briefing on Tuesday.

For more information visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html