THIS WEEK @NASA: Next Commercial Crew Mission to ISS, First Evidence of Water Vapor at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede

By  //  July 31, 2021

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ABOVE VIDEO: The next commercial crew test flight to the space station, a new space station module, and another astronomical discovery by Hubble … a few of the stories to tell you about – This Week at NASA!

Next Commercial Crew Mission to Space Station

NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 mission to the International Space Station is the second uncrewed flight test of the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of our Commercial Crew Program.

The mission aims to demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner and the Atlas V launch vehicle and provide valuable data toward certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.

Arrival of New Space Station Module

A few hours after the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) docked to the International Space Station on July 29, flight controllers noticed the unplanned firing of the module’s thrusters – which caused the station to move out of orientation. Ground teams worked to regain attitude control and stabilize the space station, and the crew was never in any danger. Nauka is the new science facility, docking port, and spacewalk airlock for the Russian segment of the station. Meanwhile, the Pirs module left the orbital outpost with a Progress spacecraft on July 26. Pirs had been the previous docking port for Russian spacecraft and airlock for Russian spacewalks since September 2001.

First Evidence of Water Vapor at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede

New and archival data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have helped astronomers uncover evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede for the first time. This water vapor forms when ice from the surface of this extremely frigid moon turns from solid to gas. Researchers believe there is an ocean about 100 miles below Ganymede’s crust that contains more water than all of the oceans on Earth.

Tropical Rainforest Vulnerability Index

Scientists from our Jet Propulsion Laboratory joined international researchers to create an index that tracks how the world’s rainforests are responding to threats like our planet’s warming climate and human land use. These diverse ecosystems are home to more than half of the planet’s life forms and act as a natural slowing mechanism to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The index could help policy makers plan for conservation and forest restoration activities.

NASA Announces Winners of Future of Flight Challenge

NASA has named nine winners in the Future-Scaping our Skies challenge. The competition, conducted through our Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, asked the public to help envision the future of flight, taking into account how societal, technological, regulatory, environmental, economic, and political changes over the next 30 years might impact aviation, and vice versa. Input from the challenge could help us better anticipate aviation needs in the future and make better decisions about technology development today.

50th Anniversary of Apollo 15

July 26 was the 50th anniversary of the launch of astronauts David Scott, Al Worden, and Jim Irwin on Apollo 15, the fourth NASA mission to land humans on the Moon. The mission was also the first to use the Lunar Roving Vehicle, which Scott and Irwin used during their more than 18 hours of lunar surface exploration while Worden orbited overhead in the command module.

That’s what’s up this week @NASA