Archive for February 10, 2012

NASA TV to Broadcast Space Station Spacewalk Feb. 16

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Two cosmonauts will conduct a six-hour spacewalk Thursday, Feb. 16, to continue outfitting the International Space Station. NASA Television will broadcast the spacewalk beginning at 7:45 a.m. CST.

Expedition 30 Russian Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov will move one of the two Strela cranes from the Pirs docking compartment to begin preparing for its replacement next year with a new laboratory and docking module. The 46-foot crane will be relocated to the Poisk module for future assembly and maintenance work. The duo also will install five debris shields on the Zvezda service module and, if time permits, a small experiment on the forward section of the module, an experiment sample pack on Poisk and support struts on the Pirs ladder.

Both spacewalkers will wear Russian Orlan suits bearing blue stripes and equipped with NASA helmet cameras. They will emerge from the Pirs airlock at about 8:15 a.m.

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Could Venus Be Shifting Gear?

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

ESA’s Venus Express spacecraft has discovered that our cloud-covered neighbour spins a little slower than previously measured. Peering through the dense atmosphere in the infrared, the orbiter found surface features were not quite where they should be.

Using the VIRTIS instrument at infrared wavelengths to penetrate the thick cloud cover, scientists studied surface features and discovered that some were displaced by up to 20 km from where they should be given the accepted rotation rate as measured by NASA’s Magellan orbiter in the early 1990s.

These detailed measurements from orbit are helping scientists determine whether Venus has a solid or liquid core, which will help our understanding of the planet’s creation and how it evolved.

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Cassini Significant Events 02/01/2012 – 02/07/2012

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

The most recent spacecraft tracking and telemetry data in this reporting period were acquired on Feb. 8 from the Deep Space Network 70 meter Station 14 at Goldstone, California. The Cassini spacecraft is in an excellent state of health with all subsystems operating normally except for the known issues with the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer and the Ultrastable Oscillator. Information on the present position and speed of the Cassini spacecraft may be found on the “Present Position” page at:

This week’s science activities began with multi-instrument observations of Titan from as far as 2.8 million kilometers away, as Cassini continued moving towards apoapse. These activities included a RADAR radiometry observation and a calibration, and observations by the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS), Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) and the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) for atmospheric and cloud monitoring. Following this, the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) made a 13.5 hour interstellar dust observation.

Later, ISS performed observations of some of Saturn’s small inner moons (part of the Satellite Orbit Campaign), including Janus and Polydeuces, to improve understanding of the orbits of these small satellites. This was followed by a 9.5 hour search for Trojan satellites around the L5 Lagrange point, 60 degrees behind Titan in its orbit.

Finally, ISS made some additional observations in the Satellite Orbit Campaign, and then CIRS, ISS and VIMS made an 11 hour Titan observation from a distance of more than 3.6 million kilometers.

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NASA Mission Celebrates 10 Years & 40,000 X-ray Flares

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

On February 5, 2002, NASA launched what was then called the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (HESSI) into orbit. Renamed within months as the Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) after Reuven Ramaty, a deceased NASA scientist who had long championed the mission, the spacecraft’s job was to observe giant explosions on the sun called solar flares.

During a solar flare, the gas soars to over 20 million degrees Fahrenheit, and emits X-rays that scientists can use as fingerprints to study these events on the sun. X-rays cannot penetrate Earth’s atmosphere, however, so RHESSI observes them from space. Its goal is simple: to understand how the sun so efficiently shoots out such huge amounts of energy and particles.

Ten years since its launch, RHESSI has observed more than 40,000 X-ray flares, helped craft and refine a model of how solar eruptions form, and fueled additional serendipitous science papers on such things as the shape of the sun and thunder-storm-produced gamma ray flashes.

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NASA Officials to Discuss Fiscal Year 2013 Budget

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency’s fiscal year 2013 budget at 2 p.m. EST on Monday, Feb. 13. The news conference will take place in the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, located at 300 E St. SW, in Washington.

NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson will join Bolden. The news conference will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Questions will be taken from news media representatives at headquarters and NASA field centers.

For the first time, NASA is inviting 20 of its Twitter followers to join reporters for the budget news conference. Tweeps interested in being a part of this event and asking questions can sign-up online. Registration will be open for 24 hours beginning at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Selected participants will be notified on Friday, Feb. 10.

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