NASA News: NASA Readies New Type Of Earth-Observing Satellite For Launch

WASHINGTON -- NASA is planning an Oct. 27 launch of the first
Earth-observing satellite to measure both global climate changes and
key weather variables.

The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System
Preparatory Project (NPP) is the first mission designed to collect
critical data to improve weather forecasts in the short-term and
increase our understanding of long-term climate change. NPP continues
observations of Earth from space that NASA has pioneered for more
than 40 years.

NPP's five science instruments, including four new state-of-the-art
sensors, will provide scientists with data to extend more than 30 key
long-term datasets. These records, which range from the ozone layer
and land cover to atmospheric temperatures and ice cover, are
critical for global change science.

"NPP's observations of a wide range of interconnected Earth properties
and processes will give us the big picture of how our planet
changes," said Jim Gleason, NPP project scientist at NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "That will help us improve our
computer models that predict future environmental conditions. Better
predictions will let us make better decisions, whether it is as
simple as taking an umbrella to work today or as complex as
responding to a changing climate."

NPP serves as a bridge between NASA's Earth Observing System of
satellites and the planned Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), which
will collect climate and weather data. JPSS will be developed by NASA
for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA meteorologists will incorporate NPP data into their weather
prediction models to produce forecasts and warnings that will help
emergency responders anticipate, monitor and react to many types of
natural disasters.

"The timing of the NPP launch could hardly be more appropriate," said
Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA's National Centers for
Environmental Prediction in Camp Springs, Md. "With the many billion
dollar weather disasters in 2011, NPP data is critical for accurate
weather forecasts into the future."

A Delta II rocket will carry NPP into an orbit 512 miles above Earth's
surface. Roughly the size of a mini-van, the spacecraft will orbit
Earth's poles about 14 times a day. It will transmit data once each
orbit to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, and to direct
broadcast receivers around the world.

NPP is set to launch from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air
Force Base in California on Oct. 27. The launch window extends from
5:48 a.m. to 5:57 a.m. EDT. The launch recently was delayed two days
due to the repair of the Delta II's hydraulic system. The NPP
spacecraft is scheduled to be transported to the launch pad for
attachment to the Delta II on Oct. 12.

NPP's Delta II launch vehicle also will carry several auxiliary
payloads into orbit, which together comprise NASA's third Educational
Launch of Nanosatellite, or ELaNa, mission. This mission will put
five small research payloads, or CubeSats, into orbit: two for the
University of Michigan; and one each for Auburn University, Montana
State University and Utah State University.

Goddard manages the NPP mission for the Earth Science Division of the
Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The
JPSS program is providing the ground system for NPP. NOAA will
provide operational support for the mission. Launch management is the
responsibility of the NASA Launch Services Program at the Kennedy
Space Center in Florida.

For more information about NPP, visit:



NASA Announces Two National Student Science Competitions

CLEVELAND -- NASA is offering students the opportunity to compete in
two microgravity challenges: "Dropping In a Microgravity
Environment," or DIME, and "What If No Gravity?" or WING.

DIME is a team competition for high school students in the ninth
through 12th grades. WING is a competition for student teams from the
fifth through eighth grades. Both are project-oriented activities
that last throughout the school year for the selected teams.

DIME and WING are open to student teams from all 50 states,
Washington, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern
Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each team must have an
adult supervisor, such as a teacher, parent or technical consultant.
Teams may be from any type of organization or club, such as a science
class, a group of friends, a scout troop or youth group.

Proposals are due by Nov. 1. A panel of NASA scientists and engineers
will evaluate and select the top-ranked proposals by Dec. 1. The
winning teams will design and build the experiments that will be
conducted in the 2.2-Second Drop Tower at NASA's Glenn Research
Center in Cleveland.

The 79-foot tower gets its name because when an experiment is
"dropped" into it, the package experiences weightlessness, or
microgravity, for 2.2 seconds. Researchers from around the world use
this tower to study the effects of microgravity on physical
phenomena, such as combustion and fluid dynamics, and to develop new
technology for future space missions.

The top four DIME teams will receive an expense-paid trip to Glenn in
March 2012 to conduct their experiments, review the results with NASA
personnel and tour the center's facilities. All DIME participants
visiting NASA must be U.S. citizens.

Four additional DIME teams, and up to 30 WING teams, will be selected
to build their experiments and ship them to Glenn for NASA testing.
These experiments and the resulting data will be returned to the
teams, so they can prepare reports about their findings.

For more information about entering DIME and WING student team
competitions, visit:


DIME and WING are part of NASA's education program. The program allows
the agency to continue its work around the country to inspire, engage
and educate the next generation of engineers and scientists.

The Teaching From Space Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in
Houston sponsors the DIME and WING competitions. The office enhances
education opportunities that use the unique environment of human
spaceflight; works with crew members to arrange International Space
Station in-flight education downlinks; and provides education payload
operations and demonstrations.

For more information about NASA's education programs, visit:


For more information about NASA's Teaching From Space programs, visit


For information about NASA's Glenn Research Center, visit:



NASA Releases New Interactive Space Communications Game

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA has released an interactive, educational
video game called NetworKing that depicts how the Space Communication
and Navigation (SCaN) network operates. The release of the video game
coincides with the close of World Space Week, Oct. 4-10.

Developed by the Information Technology Office at NASA's Ames Research
Center at Moffett Field, Calif., NetworKing gives players an
insider's perspective into how astronauts, mission controllers and
scientists communicate during space missions.

"For any young person who ever dreamed of one day contributing to
space missions, NetworKing lets players develop a kingdom of multiple
space communication networks working together to support space
missions," said Barbara Adde, policy and strategic communications
director for SCaN at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

To successfully construct fast and efficient communication networks,
players must first establish command stations around the world and
accept clients conducting space missions, such as satellites and
space telescopes. Resources are earned throughout the game as players
continue to acquire more clients. Players can strategically use
accumulated resources to enhance and increase their networks' capabilities.

Players with the most integrated communications networks will have the
ability to acquire more complex clients, such as the International
Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope and the Kepler mission.

"As a simple and fun introduction to the complex world of space
communications, NetworKing gives players the opportunity to enjoy a
challenging game while absorbing the basic concepts of space
communication," said Daniel Laughlin, games researcher at NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "It's an engaging way
to increase interest in science, technology, engineering and
mathematics areas of study and open minds to potential careers in
those fields."

NetworKing is available to the public for play on the NASA 3D
Resources website. Players can access the game using an Internet
browser. It can be downloaded and run on both a PC and Macintosh
operating system. To play the NetworKing game, visit:


In conjunction with NetworKing, the 3D Resources website also links
visitors to the Station Spacewalk Interactive Game and the SCaN
Interactive Demo that demonstrate the interaction between SCaN's
ground-and-space facilities and NASA spacecraft.

Declared by the United Nations General Assembly, World Space Week is
an annual international celebration of science and technology
commemorating the launch Sputnik 1, the first human-made Earth
satellite, and the signing of the Outer Space Treaty. The theme for
World Space Week 2011 is "50 Years of Human Spaceflight."

For more information about SCaN, visit:


For more information about NASA's education programs, visit:


For more information about World Space Week, visit:



NASA Administrator Visits the Kennedy Space Center

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden met with
Space Coast community leaders, Kennedy Space Center employees and
news media representatives during a Tuesday visit to Florida. He
outlined recent steps the agency has taken toward missions to deep
space and Florida's critical role in future exploration.

"As our nation looks for ways to compete and win in the 21st century,
NASA continues to be an engine of job growth and economic
opportunity," Bolden said. "From California to Florida, the space
industry is strong and growing. The next generation of explorers will
not fly a space shuttle, but they may be able to walk on Mars. And
those journeys are starting at the Kennedy Space Center today."

Bolden met with several hundred Space Coast community leaders,
business executives, educators, community organizers, and state and
local government representatives to discuss their partnership with
NASA to keep America the world leader in space exploration. He
discussed jobs related to the agency's new Orion multipurpose crew
vehicle and other activities the agency is pursuing to develop new
capabilities, including the placement of the Commercial Crew program
office at Kennedy.

The administrator also talked with reporters while touring the
agency's new mobile launcher for the Space Launch System (SLS), the
heavy-lift rocket that will propel astronauts into deep space. He
outlined NASA's plans to use the launcher from Kennedy's Launch
Complex 39 to send astronauts in the Orion spacecraft to asteroids,
the moon and other destinations in the solar system. The new 6.75
million-ton mobile launcher is a tangible step on the agency's path
forward to launching deep space missions.

Bolden met with Kennedy's work force and thanked them for their
commitment to the American space program. He answered questions from
workers about NASA's future and Kennedy's important role in
implementing the bi-partisan vision for exploration agreed to by
President Obama and Congress one year ago.

For more information about SLS, visit:


For more information about Orion, visit:


For more information about NASA's Kennedy Space Center, visit:



NASA Transfers Endeavour Title To California Science Center

WASHINGTON -- NASA transferred title and ownership of space shuttle
Endeavour to the California Science Center (CSC) during a ceremony
Tuesday at the center in Los Angeles. The transfer is the first step
toward CSC receiving Endeavour in the latter half of 2012.

"NASA is pleased to share this wonderful orbiter with the California
Science Center to help inspire a new generation of explorers," NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The next chapter in space
exploration begins now, and we're standing on the shoulders of the
men and women of the shuttle program to reach farther into the solar system."

Bolden announced April 12 that CSC was one of four institutions
nationwide to receive a shuttle. After display preparation and
post-mission work are complete, NASA will deliver Endeavour on the
747 shuttle carrier aircraft to Los Angeles International Airport.
From there, the shuttle will be driven through the streets of Los
Angeles to its destination at the Science Center in Exposition Park.

"Endeavour now will begin its new mission to stimulate an interest in
science and engineering in future generations at the science center,"
California Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph said.

For information about where all the retired space shuttles will be
displayed, visit:



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