NASA News: NASA Announces News Briefing On Mars Orbiter Science Finding

WASHINGTON -- NASA will host a news briefing on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 2
p.m. EDT about a significant new Mars science finding. The briefing
will be held in the NASA Headquarters James E. Webb Auditorium, 300 E
St. SW in Washington.

The new finding is based on observations from NASA's Mars
Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been orbiting the Red Planet
since 2006. MRO is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a
division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena,
Calif., for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The briefing panelists are:
- Philip Christensen, geophysicist, Arizona State University, Tempe
- Colin Dundas, research geologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff,
- Alfred McEwen, planetary geologist, University of Arizona, Tucson
- Michael Meyer, Mars Exploration Program lead scientist, NASA
- Lisa Pratt, biogeochemist, Indiana University, Bloomington

Reporters unable to attend in person may ask questions from
participating NASA centers or by telephone. To participate by phone,
reporters must contact Grey Hautaluoma at 202-358-0668 or
grey.hautaluoma-1@nasa.gov by 11 a.m. on Aug. 4.

The news briefing will air live on NASA Television and the agency's
website. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling
information, visit:


The event also will be carried live on Ustream, with a live chat box
available, at:



NASA Launches New Open Government Blog

WASHINGTON -- NASA has launched the new http://open.nasa.gov blog to
highlight the agency's Open Government success stories. The site is
part of the White House's Open Government Initiative, which requires
federal agencies to create a new level of openness and accountability
and provide public access to unclassified data.

The site is a collaborative blog for the open government community to
highlight the ways that transparency, participation, and
collaboration are being embraced throughout the agency.

"NASA is committed to experimenting with and embracing new
participatory ways of collaboration," said Linda Cureton, the
agency's chief information officer. "The launch of open.NASA is a new
chapter in NASA's culture of openness and an exciting new way to
engage citizens in our activities."

NASA released its Open Government Plan in April 2010 in response to a
White House directive. The new open.NASA blog is complimentary to the
official NASA Open Government website, which includes the Open
Government Plan, a status report and associated projects. To learn
more about NASA's Open Government Initiative, visit:



Media Invited To Experience NASA Field Tests For Future Missions

HOUSTON -- NASA is once again taking human space exploration to the
Arizona desert in tests to simulate conditions on other worlds. News
media representatives are invited to two opportunities to learn more
about the upcoming Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert
RATS) field tests.

On Thursday, Aug. 4, journalists can visit NASA's Johnson Space Center
in Houston from 2:30 to 4 p.m. CDT for the Desert RATS team's final
dry run before next month's mission. On Sept. 12, reporters at Black
Point Lava Flow in northern Arizona can talk with team members and
see mission hardware from 9 to 11:30 a.m. MDT.

To attend either opportunity, reporters must contact Brandi Dean at
brandi.k.dean@nasa.gov. The deadline for the Johnson event is 5 p.m.
on Wednesday, Aug. 3. For the desert media day, reporters must RSVP
by Sept. 2.

For the past 14 years, teams of engineers, scientists, astronauts and
technicians from across NASA centers and throughout industry and
academia have simulated missions to distant destinations to answer
questions about future exploration. This year, for the first time,
the desolate desert landscape will stand in for an asteroid. Visiting
an asteroid presents NASA with challenges the agency is only
beginning to tackle. Among them are how to travel between sites of
interest on an asteroid's surface and how to conduct spacewalks in
its microgravity.

Desert RATS will investigate these issues and others applicable to
future exploration such as crew size and bases; making the best use
of astronauts' time when faced with extensive time delays in
communication from Earth; and efficiently controlling robotic
technology during surveys and scouting expeditions.

Technologies being tested in the 2011 Desert RATS mission include:
-- The Deep Space Habitat, which combines NASA's Habitat Demonstration
Unit with a student-built X-Hab inflatable loft. The habitat provides
crew living and work space.
-- NASA's Space Exploration Vehicle. Although its wheels would not be
needed on the surface of an asteroid, the vehicle cabin could be
mounted on a flying platform to provide astronauts transportation
between sites of interest.
-- Robonaut 2/Centaur 2. Mounted on a wheeled base called Centaur 2,
NASA's Robonaut 2 robotic astronaut assistant becomes R2C2. It can
remotely scout areas for potential crew visits or assist astronauts
in spacewalks.
-- The Deep Space Network. The size and capability of communications
and data network links will have far-reaching impact on day-to-day
existence of explorers on distant surfaces. Testing various scenarios
in the desert will help identify requirements for such systems.
-- The Extravehicular Activity Information System. Spacesuits will not
be worn during the planned field test activities, but a suite of
prototype electronic tools have been developed to help plan for
efficient, autonomous work during future spacewalks. The tools are
packaged as a small system for test and evaluation on conceptual
lightweight backpacks. They will be connected to displays worn on the
astronauts' wrists and incorporate high definition video cameras.

Participants in the 2011 Desert RATS mission include Johnson and
NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.; Ames Research Center
at Moffett Field, Calif.; Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
Calif.; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; Kennedy Space
Center in Florida; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland ; Marshall
Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.; NASA Headquarters in
Washington; the European Space Agency; the Canadian Space Agency; the
U.S. Air Force; the U.S. Army; the U.S. Geological Survey; the Lunar
and Planetary Institute; the Planetary Science Institute; University
of Texas, El Paso; Hamilton College of Clinton, N.Y.; Brown
University; Arizona State University School of Earth and Space
Exploration; the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Colorado
State University; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Berkeley
Heights, N.J., Public Schools; and Penn Manor School District of Millersville, Pa.

For a list of participants and more information about the Desert RATS
tests, visit:


Follow Desert RATS via Twitter at:



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