EPOXI Spacecraft Preps for Comet Flyby

Photo of Hartley 2 acquired on August 14, 2010 with the Hall 42-inch (1.1-m) telescope at Lowell Observatory.In one of its final mission trajectory correction maneuvers, the EPOXI mission spacecraft has refined its orbit, preparing it for the flyby of comet Hartley 2 on Nov. 4. The time of closest approach to the comet on that day is expected to be about 7:02 a.m. PDT.

A Nov. 3 trajectory correction maneuver began at 11 a.m. PDT, when the spacecraft burned its engines for 60 seconds, changing its velocity by 1.59 meters per second.

On Nov. 4, the spacecraft will fly past Hartley 2 at a distance of about 700 kilometers (435 miles). It will be only the fifth time in history that a spacecraft has been close enough to image a comet’s nucleus.

EPOXI is an extended mission that uses the already “in-flight” Deep Impact spacecraft to explore distinct celestial targets of opportunity. The name EPOXI itself is a combination of the names for the two extended mission components: the extrasolar planet observations, called Extrasolar Planet Observations and Characterization (EPOCh); and the flyby of comet Hartley 2, called the Deep Impact Extended Investigation (DIXI). The spacecraft will continue to be referred to as “Deep Impact.”

For more information about EPOXI, visit the mission website.

Click here see some spectacular video about the EPOXI/Hartley 2 encounter. 

Link to the NES Virtual Campus website.

NASA Now — Path of an Astronaut

NASA Now logoDuring this unique episode of NASA Now, astronaut and veteran spacewalker Mike Foreman describes his experiences from liftoff to living and working in space. He was selected to be an astronaut in 1998. He flew on space shuttle Endeavour in March 2008, and he returned to the station on space shuttle Atlantis in November 2009. Foreman has logged over 637 hours in space, with over 32 of those hours in a spacesuit during five spacewalks.

Watch this episode of NASA Now beginning on Nov. 3 by visiting the NES Virtual Campus website.

Follow STS-133 Launch and Mission

STS-133 mission patchDiscovery will carry a crew of six to and from the space station – Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott – as well as what used to be the Leonardo Multipurpose Module on a one-way trip. It’s now called the Permanent Multipurpose Module, and rather than returning, it will stay attached to the station’s Unity node to provide extra storage for the space station. And though the concept of a closet in space may not sound too exciting, it’s becoming more important all the time. 

Following the STS-133 mission, Discovery will be the first of the shuttle fleet to retire. By the end of STS-133, 180 people will also have flown aboard Discovery, including the first female shuttle pilot and the first female shuttle commander (who happen to be the same person – Eileen Collins), the first African American spacewalker (Bernard Harris) and the first sitting member of congress to fly in space (Jake Garn). 

Keep up with STS-133 by visiting the mission website.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus website.

STS-133 Prelaunch Webcast for Students (date & time update 11-3-10)

Mission Webcast logo shown on TV screen

Date and time to be determined, based on the STS-133 launch schedule: Join hosts Damon Talley and Rachel Power LIVE onthe Web from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the launch of STS-133 and learnabout the mission and crew.

Theshuttle Discovery’s mission will carry Robonaut 2, the Permanent MultipurposeModule, and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 to the International Space Station.STS-133 will be the 35th shuttle mission to the station.

Submitquestions, both leading up to and during the LaunchCast, at nasalearn@gmail.com. Questions will be answered during the live webcast!

Towatch the webcast, go to http://dln.nasa.gov/dlnapp/webcast/webcast.do.

To get the latest information about the launch and progress of STS-133, visit the mission website.

Link to the NES Virtual Campus website.

A Message from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Today, NASA celebrate ten years of humans living and working continuously aboard the International Space Station. This global milestone is tremendously significant, both for NASA and our partners. It recognizes the success of an amazing feat of engineering and a magnificent leap forward in the story of human achievement. I congratulate the entire station team and the thousands of people worldwide who have helped us reach this anniversary.


Since Bill Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev first boarded the station as the Expedition 1 crew, more than 196 people have visited the complex, and by the exact time of the anniversary this morning, the station will have completed 57,361 orbits of Earth, traveling some 1.5 billion miles.


More than 600 different research and technology development experiments have been conducted on the station, many of which are producing advances in medicine, recycling systems and a fundamental understanding of the universe. On Oct. 25, the station set a record for being the longest continuously inhabited spacecraft. On that day, the space station eclipsed the previous record of 3,644 days set by the Russian Mir Space Station. The station is our toehold in space, and it will be an essential part of our work to send humans on missions beyond low Earth orbit in the future.


With passage of the NASA Authorization bill, we will now be able to extend the life of the station to at least 2020. Representatives of the five international agencies that built and operate the outpost have also agreed on this in principle. Indeed, one of the station’s greatest legacies is the international partnerships we have forged to create something awe-inspiring that benefits people all over the world. Partnerships with other nations will be essential to the global exploration enterprise of the future, and with each new day, NASA and its partners are pushing the envelope of human achievement in space into uncharted territory.


On board the station right now are six talented and courageous travelers representing NASA and our Russian partners. Tomorrow, the crew of STS-133 is expected to lift off on its way to the International Space Station aboard the last scheduled flight of shuttle Discovery.  As we enter the station’s second decade, our path forward will take us deeper into space and expand humanity’s potential farther. The lessons we learn on the station will carry us to Mars and beyond. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to the six crew members on orbit and all the teams over the years that have helped us get to this milestone day.

Curiosity Cam-A View of Curiosity

Artist conception of curiosity rover on Mars

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission is preparing to send a large, mobile laboratory — the rover Curiosity — to the Red Planet. Plans call for a launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., between Nov. 25 and Dec.18, 2011, and an arrival at Mars in August 2012.

Curiosity is about twice as long (about 3 meters or 10 feet) and five times as heavy as NASA’s twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

You and your students look inside the clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., to watch the next Mars rover being built. The camera is located in a viewing gallery above the clean room floor. There is no audio on this video feed. As of October 2010, technicians are working from approximately 8 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. PDT Monday through Friday.

For more information about the mission, download the pdf, and then check out the cool mission website.