The Expedition 10 crew is easing into the second month of its six-month stay onboard the International Space Station by working on science experiments and preparing for the arrival of a new cargo spacecraft.

The Station is now orbiting at an altitude of 222 statute miles. That’s nearly two miles higher than at the start of the week, following a Russian ground-commanded reboost of the complex Wednesday. The boost used the engines of the Russian Progress resupply spacecraft docked to the Zvezda Service Module. The engine firing to raise the Station’s altitude lasted the planned duration of nine minutes and nine seconds. However, the use of fuel from one of the Progress’ two fuel tanks rather than the fuel tank on Zvezda resulted in a slightly lower performance of the engines. This left the Station slightly below its expected final altitude from the reboost.
Continue reading


The Space Shuttle fleet is housed and processed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla. The order the Space Shuttles are listed in this report does not necessarily reflect the chronological order of future missions.

Discovery (OV-103)

Testing of the end effector, or grappling end, of the Space Shuttle robotic arm successfully concluded this week. Installation of the wing leading edge instrumentation is 50 percent complete. Closeout work was completed in the orbiter midbody in bay 1 and in left-hand bay 9. Those areas will be covered and closed out for flight.

Also accomplished this week were the flow liner cleaning and inspection of Main Propulsion System Engine 2. Checkout of the computer complex portion of the Data Processing System, which is part of the orbiter’s control system, was completed.
Continue reading


Members of NASA’s human and robotic programs are cooperating in new ways to support the Vision for Space Exploration. The Vision calls for a “building block” strategy of human and robotic missions to reach new exploration goals. The first step in the Vision is returning the Space Shuttle safely to flight.

To that end, managers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., who directed the Mars Exploration Rover missions, are sharing their experience and insight with managers from NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. This week, those JPL managers took part in a practice session by Shuttle mission managers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. It’s part of a continuing exchange of best practices. Earlier this year, Deputy Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale traveled to JPL to observe mission operations during the critical periods of landing the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, on Mars.
Continue reading


The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), with its Phase 1 call for proposals, invites those outside the agency to submit ideas for revolutionary systems that could greatly advance NASA’s missions and the Vision for Space Exploration.

The focus for solicitations is on revolutionary advanced concepts for architectures and systems that meet NASA mission “grand challenges.” Since the NIAC wants ideas for future systems that could be realized 10 to 40 years from now, it is understood that the enabling technologies may not yet be available and the science may not yet be completely understood.

The NIAC’s intention is to discover ideas that may result in beneficial changes to NASA’s long-range plans. Previous winning proposals include systems or concepts like a spacecraft propelled by a magnetized beam of electrified gas for rapid interplanetary transportation, an electrostatic radiation shield for a lunar base, and the redesign of living organisms to survive on Mars.
Continue reading


NASA astronauts Lisa Nowak (Cmdr., U.S. Navy) and Stephanie Wilson are joining the crew of the second Space Shuttle Return to Flight mission (STS-121) planned for launch in 2005.

They join the other STS-121 crewmembers — Commander Steven Lindsey (Col., USAF), Pilot Mark Kelly (Cmdr., U.S. Navy), Mission Specialists Michael Fossum and Piers Sellers.

STS-121 will deliver supplies and research equipment to the International Space Station. It was added to the schedule as the next mission after Return to Flight, which is designated STS-114. The STS-121 crew will continue testing new flight procedures developed to increase the Shuttle’s safety following the Columbia accident on Feb. 1, 2003.
Continue reading

Mediterranean Desertification

The severe droughts and forest fires of recent years underline Mediterranean Europe’s continuing vulnerability to desertification ­ 300 000 square kilometres of territory are currently affected, threatening the livelihoods of 16.5 million Europeans. A new satellite-based service is set to provide a continuous monitoring of regions most at risk.

More at:


Scientists funded by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), used Landsat 5 satellite data to look at changes in wetlands areas in south Florida, particularly south and west of Lake Okeechobee.

Using satellite data, land-cover change history, computer models, and weather records, the researchers found a link between the losses of wetlands and more severe freezes in some agricultural areas of south Florida. In other areas of the state, changes in land use resulted in slightly warmer conditions. They concluded, based on the study, the conversion of wetlands by itself may be enough of a trigger to enhance damage inflicted upon agriculture in these areas of south Florida during freezes events.

The Landsat 5 satellite was constructed and launched by NASA, and its data are processed and distributed by the USGS. The researchers studied three freeze events and simulated the conditions with a computer climate model, using weather and land-cover change records. The freezes took place on December 26, 1983, December 25, 1989, and January 19, 1997.
Continue reading


NASA and IUCN – The World Conservation Union, the world’s largest environmental knowledge network, signed a joint declaration today in Bangkok, Thailand, to use NASA satellite data to help in worldwide conservation efforts.

The purpose of the joint declaration is to improve IUCN access to NASA data, technology, images and remote sensing products. IUCN members and commissions will incorporate the data to help improve the quality and effectiveness of environmental decision-making and to improve conservation outcomes.

“This opportunity for NASA to help advance conservation efforts globally reinforces our vision to use our unique vantage from space to improve life here on Earth,” said NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Science Ghassem Asrar. “Modern environmental and conservation decision-support systems need access to good information. Increasingly, these systems are using geospatial technologies to provide decision-makers with a range of possible options and, in the future, could be used to predict possible outcomes,” he said.
Continue reading