THIS WEEK @NASA: Raging Martian Dust Storm, Astronauts Work Outside ISS & NASA’s Peggy Whitson Retires

By  //  June 15, 2018

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This Week @NASA – June 15, 2018

ABOVE VIDEO: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine chats with a couple of NASA astronauts, a massive dust storm on Mars and astronauts at work outside the space station – a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Bridenstine Chats with Astronauts Acaba and Vande Hei

During a recent visit to NASA headquarters our astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei sat down for an informal Q&A session with Administrator Jim Bridenstine – and responded to some questions from the agency’s social media followers.

NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine:
“How much time did you have from the time you launched until you docked?”

The astronauts, who returned from the International Space Station in late February, talked about the station’s role as a platform to help us live and work in space.

NASA Astronaut, Joe Acaba:
“We have had you know – humans, astronauts on the space station for the last 18 years – 24/7 365 – living in this self-contained environment, so we recycle pretty much everything we can up there.”

NASA Astronaut, Mark Vande Hei:
“There was 284 roughly experiments that happened while we were there. So there’s an incredible amount of science that’s going on.”

The cutting-edge research and technology development on the station is helping prepare our astronauts to take the next giant leap in human space exploration. The agency plans to return to the Moon and eventually send humans to Mars and destinations beyond.

A Raging Martian Dust Storm

One of the most intense and massive dust storms ever observed on Mars is affecting our Opportunity rover, but also presents a window of scientific study for four other NASA spacecraft. Scientists hope to collect data on the storm with our three orbiters, as well as our Curiosity rover on the surface. At one point it was estimated that the storm covered 14-million square miles of Martian surface – about a quarter of the planet — and was still growing.

NASA Ready To Fly Large Unmanned Aircraft In Public Airspace Without Safety Chase AircraftRelated Story:
NASA Ready To Fly Large Unmanned Aircraft In Public Airspace Without Safety Chase Aircraft

Astronauts at Work Outside the Space Station

During a June 14 spacewalk outside the space station, astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold installed high-definition cameras to provide enhanced views of approaching SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner commercial crew spacecraft, that will soon begin launching from American soil. The pair also worked on several other tasks during the spacewalk, which helped move Feustel past Peggy Whitson into third place on the list for cumulative time spent spacewalking.

Peggy Whitson Retires from NASA

Peggy Whitson, who still holds the NASA record for the most cumulative time in space, retired from the agency, effective June 15. Selected as an astronaut in 1996, her 665 days in space included three long-duration missions to the International Space Station, during which she became the station’s first NASA science officer, first female commander, and also claimed the title for most spacewalks by a female, with ten.

Large Unmanned Aircraft’s First Flight in Public Airspace Without Chase Plane

On June 12 our remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft successfully flew its first mission in the National Airspace System without a safety chase aircraft. The historic flight in the skies over southern and central California moves the U.S. a step closer to normalizing unmanned commercial and private aircraft operations in the airspace – which could potentially lead to a variety of services, from monitoring and fighting forest fires, to providing new emergency search and rescue operations.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA …

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