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NASA Glenn To Host Tweetup Celebrating 50th Anniversary Of First American To Orbit Earth

Stephanie L. Schierholz
Headquarters, Washington                                    
202-358-4997
stephanie.schierholz@nasa.gov

Lori J. Rachul
Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio
216-433-8806
lori.j.rachul@nasa.gov

RELEASE : 12-037 NASA Glenn To Host 50th Of To CLEVELAND — NASA’s Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland will host a special event on March 2 to celebrate the 50th of John Glenn’s first orbital flight by an American. NASA also will invite 100 people for a behind-the-scenes Tweetup at GRC in advance of the celebration event.

The Tweetup activities begin at 7:30 a.m. EST with a tour of Glenn’s world-class flight research and ground test facilities that support aeronautics and space exploration. Participants will speak with scientists and engineers about technologies being investigated and developed.
Following the tours, the Tweetup will move to downtown Cleveland for the Glenn tribute event. “Celebrating John Glenn’s Legacy: 50 years of Americans in Orbit,” will be held at 1 p.m. at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center. The program will include a tribute and remarks by Glenn and agency and political officials. Tweetup participants also will meet Greg “Box” Johnson and other special guests.

On March 1, 1999, the Lewis Research Center was officially renamed the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in recognition of Glenn’s contributions to science, space and the State of Ohio. As one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, Glenn trained in 1960 at Lewis in the Multiple Axis Space Test Inertia Facility.

Today, the center’s research and technology development work focuses on air-breathing propulsion; communications; in-space propulsion and cryogenic fluids management; power, energy storage and conversion; materials and structures for extreme environments; and physical sciences and biomedical technologies in space.

Tweetup registration opens at noon on Friday, Feb. 3, and closes at noon on Monday, Feb. 6. NASA will select 100 total participants, including Twitter followers and their guests, by lottery from those who register online. Because Glenn is a government facility with restricted access, the event is open only to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

For more NASA Tweetup information and to sign up, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/tweetup

To follow Johnson on Twitter, visit:

http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Box

For more information about John Glenn, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/about/bios/john_glenn.html

For more information about NASA’s Glenn Research Center, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/glenn

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NASA Spacecraft Returns First Video from Far Side Of The Moon

RELEASE : 12-040 NASA from Far Side Of The Moon WASHINGTON — A camera aboard one of NASA’s twin Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory () lunar spacecraft has returned its unique view of the far side of the moon. MoonKAM, or Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students, will be used by students nationwide to select lunar images for study.

GRAIL consists of two identical spacecraft, recently named Ebb and Flow, each of which is equipped with a MoonKAM. The images were taken as part of a test of Ebb’s MoonKAM on Jan. 19. The GRAIL project plans to test the MoonKAM aboard Flow at a later date.

To view the 30-second video clip, visit:

http://go.nasa.gov/zZXAPs In the video, the north pole of the moon is visible at the top of the screen as the spacecraft flies toward the lunar south pole. One of the first prominent geological features seen on the lower third of the moon is the Mare Orientale, a 560 mile-wide (900 kilometer) impact basin that straddles both the moon’s near and far side.

The clip ends with rugged terrain just short of the lunar south pole. To the left of center, near the bottom of the screen, is the 93 mile-wide (149 kilometer) Drygalski crater with a distinctive star-shaped formation in the middle. The formation is a central peak, created many billions of years ago by a comet or asteroid impact.

“The quality of the video is excellent and should energize our MoonKAM students as they prepare to explore the moon,” said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

The twin spacecraft successfully achieved lunar last New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Previously named GRAIL-A and -B, the washing machine-sized spacecraft received their new names from fourth graders at the Emily Dickinson Elementary School in Bozeman, Mont., following a nationwide student-naming contest.

Thousands of fourth- to eighth-grade students will select target areas on the lunar surface and send requests to the GRAIL MoonKAM Mission Operations Center in San Diego. Photos of the target areas will be sent back by the satellites for students to study. The MoonKAM program is led by Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space. Her team at Sally Ride Science and undergraduate students at the University of California in San Diego will engage middle schools across the country in the GRAIL mission and lunar exploration. GRAIL is NASA’s first planetary mission carrying instruments fully dedicated to education and public outreach.

“We have had great response from schools the country, more than 2,500 signed up to participate so far,” Ride said. “In mid-March, the first pictures of the moon will be taken by students using MoonKAM. I expect this will excite many students about possible careers in science and engineering.”

Launched in September 2011, Ebb and Flow periodically perform trajectory correction maneuvers that, over time, will lower their orbits to near-circular ones with an altitude of about 34 miles (55 kilometers). During their science mission, the duo will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how and other rocky planets in the solar system formed.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the GRAIL mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

For more information about GRAIL, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/grail
Information about MoonKAM is available at: https://moonkam.ucsd.edu/ – end – text-only version of this release

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NASA Releases First Multi-Player Facebook Game

RELEASE : 12-034 NASA Multi-Player Game WASHINGTON — NASA has launched its multi-player online game to test players’ knowledge of the space program. Who was the to walk in space? Who launched the liquid-fueled rocket? These are only a few of the questions players can answer in Space Race Blastoff.

Available on Facebook, Space Race Blastoff tests players’ knowledge of NASA history, technology, science and pop culture. Players who correctly answer questions earn virtual badges depicting NASA astronauts, and celestial objects. Players also earn points they can use to obtain additional badges to complete sets and earn premium badges.

“Space Race Blastoff opens NASA’s history and research to a wide new audience of people accustomed to using social media,” said David Weaver, NASA’s associate administrator for communications. “Space experts and novices will learn new things about how exploration continues to impact our world.”

NASA chose to make the game available through Facebook to take advantage of the social media site’s large audience and enable players to compete against others. Individuals also can play solo games.

Once in the game, players choose an avatar and answer 10 multiple-choice questions. Each correct answer earns 100 points, with a 20-point bonus to the player who answers first. The winner advances to the bonus round to answer one additional question for more points.
Correctly answering the bonus question earns the player a badge.

Space Race Blastoff was developed by Scott Hanger, Todd Powell and Jamie Noguchi of NASA’s Internet Services Group in the Office of Communications. Play the game now at: http://apps.facebook.com/spacerace

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Astronaut Jerry Ross, First Seven-Time Flier, Retires

RELEASE : 12-033 Ross, Seven-Time , HOUSTON — Jerry Ross, the first person to launch into space seven times, has retired from NASA. In a career that spanned more than three decades, Ross spent almost 1,400 hours in space and conducted nine spacewalks to rank third on the list of most extravehicular activity time in space.

“Jerry has been instrumental in the success of many of NASA’s human spaceflight missions and numerous spacewalks,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office. “Not only were his skills and operational excellence key in major spaceflight activities but his expertise and vigilance also helped all those who followed in his footsteps. We are the better for his years of dedication to the corps and NASA.”

Ross joined NASA in 1979 as a payload officer and flight controller. In 1980, he was selected as an astronaut. He and Franklin Chang-Diaz are the only two astronauts to have flown into space seven times. In addition to Ross’ spaceflight mission accomplishments, he went on to serve NASA in the critical role of managing the Vehicle Integration Test Office.

“Jerry was equally invaluable leading this critical team, especially through space station assembly, the transition to the space shuttle retirement, and during the initial phases of our future programs,” said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations. “He was considered a mentor to many he worked with there. We wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Of his seven flights into , Ross flew on space shuttles Endeavour and Columbia once each and a record-setting five times on shuttle Atlantis, including his first and last missions. His first flight was on the STS-61B mission in 1985. His final flight into space was on the STS-110 mission in 2002.

During his seven missions, he assisted in deploying a number of satellites and other payloads. He performed experiments in life, material and sciences, and physics, and astronomy. Ross was a member of the STS-74 mission’s crew, the second mission to dock to the Russian space station Mir. He also traveled to the then-fledgling International Space Station, where he helped connect the U.S.-built Unity node to the Russian Zarya module. On the STS-110 mission, Ross’ final trip to space, he was instrumental in delivering and installing the S0 (S-Zero) truss. Ross accumulated more than 1,393 hours in space, including 58 hours and 18 minutes on nine spacewalks.

For Ross’ complete biography, visit:

http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/ross.html
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NASA Helps Kick Off 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition

RELEASE : 12-004 NASA Kick Off 2012 WASHINGTON — An international robotics aimed at developing a new generation of technology leaders kicks off at 10:30 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 7. NASA, the largest sponsor of the Robotics Competition, and its centers across the nation will join local technology firms to launch the event. The main competition kickoff will take place at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester and will air live on NASA Television.

FIRST — or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — is a long-standing challenge to inspire curiosity and create interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among high school students. Encouraging students to pursue STEM studies and careers is the focus of NASA’s education programs.

“NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is proud to have sponsored this technology revolution for the past 19 years,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This program has given tens of thousands of students a crucial mentoring experience if they choose to be a part of future exploration endeavors in space. FIRST Robotics is fun and exciting and will sustain an unprecedented positive educational impact on our nation’s youth.”

The FIRST Robotics Competition gives students the opportunity to design, build and test a robot that can perform specific functions. The competition also gives students the opportunity to be mentored by NASA professionals, who help them to explore potential solutions to robotics problems and understand the real-world challenges faced by engineers and researchers.

“FIRST Robotics has had a tremendous impact on students’ interest in robotics and invention since its inception,” said Leland Melvin, NASA’s associate administrator for Education. “In fact, it was a mutual interest in FIRST Robotics that led the agency to a recently announced collaboration with entertainer will.i.am. We are excited to work together to help inspire the next generation to pursue STEM and robotics studies.”

During the live broadcast of this year’s competition kickoff, inventor and FIRST founder Dean Kamen and designers of the annual challenge will reveal this year’s competition scenario. This kicks off a six-week design and building frenzy for students and their engineering mentors.

Each year, participating FIRST teams are presented with a new robotics competition scenario with twists and nuances to challenge both rookie and veteran teams. Each team receives a kit of parts and has six weeks to design and build a robot based on the team’s interpretation of the game scenario. Other than dimension and weight restrictions, the look and function of the robots is up to each team.

NASA plays a significant role by providing public access to robotics programs to encourage young people to investigate careers in the sciences and engineering. Through the NASA Robotics Alliance Project, the agency provides grants to teams and sponsors four regional student competitions. NASA engineers and scientists participate with many of these teams as technical participants and mentors to the students. Through these mentoring activities, NASA engineers are able to directly share their expertise and experiences with the nation’s next generation of technical leaders.

This year, there will be regional competitions across the country, as well as four additional international competitions in March and April. The FIRST Championship competition will be held April 25-28 in St. Louis.

The program was founded in 1989 by Kamen to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people, their schools and communities. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST is a non-profit organization that designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge and life skills while motivating young people to pursue academic opportunities.

For more information about NASA’s Robotics Alliance Project, visit:

http://robotics.nasa.gov

For more information about the FIRST Robotics Competition and a listing of competing teams, visit:

http://www.usfirst.org

For NASA TV streaming and downlink information, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For additional information about NASA’s education programs, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/education– end – text-only version of this release

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First Of NASA’S Two Grail Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around Moon

Dwayne Brown      
Headquarters, Washington     
202-358-1726                                
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov
DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-9011
agle@jpl.nasa.gov
Caroline McCall
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
617-253-1682
cmcall5@mit.edu
RELEASE : 11-427 Of NASA’S Two Moon PASADENA, Calif. — The first of two NASA to study the moon in unprecedented detail has entered lunar orbit.

NASA’s Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)-A spacecraft successfully completed its planned main engine burn at 2 p.m. PST (5 p.m. EST) today. As of 3 p.m. PST (6 p.m. EST), GRAIL-A is in a 56-mile (90-kilometer) by 5,197-mile (8,363-kilometer) orbit around the moon that takes approximately 11.5 hours to complete.

“My resolution for the new year is to unlock lunar mysteries and understand how the moon, and other rocky planets evolved,” said Maria Zuber, GRAIL principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “Now, with GRAIL-A successfully placed in orbit around the moon, we are one step closer to achieving that goal.”

The next mission milestone occurs tomorrow when GRAIL-A’s mirror twin, GRAIL-B, performs its own main engine burn to place it in lunar orbit. At 3 p.m. PST (6 p.m. EST) today, GRAIL-B was 30,018 miles (48,309 kilometers) from the moon and closing at a rate of 896 mph (1,442 kph). GRAIL-B’s insertion burn is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. PST (5:05 p.m. EST) and will last about 39 minutes.

“With GRAIL-A in lunar orbit we are halfway home,” said David Lehman, GRAIL project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. “Tomorrow may be New Year’s everywhere else, but it’s another work day around the moon and here at JPL for the GRAIL team.”

Once both spacecraft are confirmed in orbit and operating, science work will begin in March. The spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon in formation. As they fly over areas of greater and lesser gravity caused by both visible features, such as mountains and craters, and masses hidden beneath the lunar surface, the distance between the two spacecraft will change slightly.

Scientists will translate this information into a high-resolution map of the moon’s gravitational field. The data will allow scientists to understand what goes on below the lunar surface. This information will increase knowledge of how Earth and its rocky neighbors in the inner solar system developed into the diverse worlds we see today.

JPL manages the GRAIL mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The GRAIL mission is part of the Discovery Program managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft.

For more information about GRAIL, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/grail – end – text-only version of this release

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