THIS WEEK @NASA: Space Station Crew Returns Safely to Earth, New Discovery From Old Data

By  //  April 18, 2020

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Latest Happenings around NASA

ABOVE VIDEO: Space Station crew returns safely to Earth, practice for our asteroid sample return mission, and a new discovery from old data … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Space Station Crew Completes Mission with a Safe Return to Earth

On April 17, our Andrew Morgan, Jessica Meir, and Oleg Skripochka, of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said goodbye to the International Space Station’s Expedition 63 crew, including our Chris Cassidy.

Several hours later Morgan, Meir, and Skripochka landed safely in Kazakhstan. Morgan spent nine months on the station while Meir was onboard for about six months.

During that time, she conducted the first three all-woman spacewalks with NASA’s Christina Koch.

Rehearsal Time for NASA’s Asteroid Sampling Spacecraft

On April 14, we conducted the first practice run with our OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in preparation for its attempt this August to collect a sample from asteroid Bennu, and safely return that sample to Earth.

The rehearsal, known as “Checkpoint,” placed the spacecraft the closest it has ever been to Bennu. This is NASA’s first-ever sample return mission to an asteroid.

Earth-Size, Habitable Zone Planet Found Hidden in Early NASA Kepler Data

Old data from our Kepler space telescope, which was retired in 2018, has led to the discovery of an Earth-size exoplanet in its star’s habitable zone, about 300 light years from Earth. Out of all the exoplanets found by Kepler, this distant world, called Kepler-1649c, is most similar to Earth in size and estimated temperature.

Celebrate 50 Years of Earth Day Virtually with NASA

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is April 22. To help observe the anniversary virtually, in this new world of social distancing, we have put together new and curated online videos, activities, and other resources at Some of the material is available in both English and Spanish. We also encourage you to use the hashtag #EarthDayAtHome to share images showing what you did to observe Earth Day.

NASA Calls on Gamers, Citizen Scientists to Help Map World’s Corals

NASA is looking for help from video gamers and citizen scientists to map coral reefs around the world. Participants will play a video game to identify and classify corals while virtually traveling in an ocean vessel.

The game, called NeMO-Net, which is available for iOS devices and Mac computers, uses 3D images of the ocean floor, corals, algae and seagrass taken by specialized NASA instruments mounted on drones or aircraft. Data from NeMO-Net will eventually enable NASA’s Pleiades supercomputer to map out the world’s corals at an unprecedented resolution.(VO)

That’s what’s up this week @NASA