THIS WEEK @NASA: International Partnerships for the Moon and Mars, Milestone for James Webb Space Telescope

By  //  October 26, 2019

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ABOVE VIDEO: International partnerships for the Moon and Mars, an update on that historic all-woman spacewalk, and a milestone for the James Webb Space Telescope … a few of the stories to tell you about –- This Week at NASA!

International Astronautical Congress (IAC)

For the first time in almost two decades, the International Astronautical Congress – or IAC — met in the United States, and kicked it off with remarks from Vice President Mike Pence about the future of human space exploration.

Vice President Mike Pence:
“With Apollo in the history books, the Artemis mission has begun, and we are well on our way to making NASA’s Moon to Mars mission a reality.”

During the conference, NASA showcased plans for the Artemis program, which will send the first woman and next man the Moon by 2024, using innovative commercial and international partnerships, technologies and systems.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine:
“We need international partners. We can all do more when we work together than any one of us can do if we go alone.”

In addition to highlighting our growing partnerships with international space agencies, Administrator Bridenstine also showcased our new lunar mobile robot known as VIPER – the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. VIPER will sample water ice and collect about 100 days of data that will inform the first global water resource maps of the Moon.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine:
“VIPER is going to rove on the south pole of the Moon, and VIPER is going to assess where the water ice is. We’re going to be able to characterize the water ice, and ultimately drill and find out just how is the water ice embedded in the regolith on the Moon.”

The IAC also held a ceremony honoring humanity’s first lunar explorers — the Apollo 11 crew — with the 2019 World Space Award. Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong’s son Mark, and Michael Collins’s grandson Luke accepted the award.

Spacewalk Update

Mission Control in Houston reports the new battery charge/discharge unit installed during the historic Oct. 18 spacewalk by Christina Koch and Jessica Meir is activated and operating properly.

The faulty unit is due to return to Earth on the next SpaceX Dragon resupply ship for inspection, and station managers will reschedule the remaining three battery replacement spacewalks at a future date.

In the meantime, the International Space Station crew will prepare for five planned spacewalks to repair a cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, in November and December.

James Webb Update

The sunshield for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has passed a critical test in preparation for its 2021 launch. Technicians and engineers fully deployed each of the sunshield’s five layers, successfully putting the sunshield into the same position it will be a million miles from Earth.

Webb will observe distant parts of the universe humans have never seen before.

Because it’s optimized for infrared light, Webb’s optics and sensors must remain extremely cold, and its sunshield is key for regulating temperature.

NASA Space Apps Challenge

The NASA International Space Apps Challenge was held Oct. 18-20. This global 48-hour hackathon brought together participants of all ages and backgrounds at more than 200 events in more than 80 countries to solve real-world problems with collaborative solutions. The teams work with NASA’s open source data and products and design innovative solutions to scientific challenges faced on Earth and in space.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA

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