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The Marshall Star for January 24, 2024


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The Marshall Star for January 24, 2024

Artist rendition of the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer

NASA’s IXPE Team Awarded Prestigious Rossi Prize

By Rick Smith

NASA’s IXPE (Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer) team has been awarded a top prize in high-energy astronomy.

The High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has awarded the 2024 Bruno Rossi Prize to retired NASA astrophysicist Martin Weisskopf, Italian Space Agency principal investigator Paolo Soffitta, and their team for development of IXPE, “whose novel measurements advance our understanding of particle acceleration and emission from astrophysical shocks, black holes and neutron stars,” according to the AAS announcement.

NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer mission, led by retired NASA astrophysicist Martin Weisskopf, left, and Italian Space Agency principal investigator Paolo Soffitta, has received the 2024 Rossi Prize in high-energy astronomy, awarded annually by the American Astronomical Society.
NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer mission, led by retired NASA astrophysicist Martin Weisskopf, left, and Italian Space Agency principal investigator Paolo Soffitta, has received the 2024 Rossi Prize in high-energy astronomy, awarded annually by the American Astronomical Society.
NASA/INAF

“IXPE is a realization of decades of work and belief in the importance of X-ray polarization measurements for X-ray astronomy. I am honored and excited to share this prize with Paolo Soffitta and the entire IXPE team,” said Weisskopf, who was IXPE’s principal investigator during its development. He retired from NASA in 2022.

“IXPE is the demonstration of how an idea pursued for more than 30 years has been transformed into a successful mission, thanks to the collaboration between the United States and Italy,” Soffitta said. “It’s incredible to receive this prize along with Martin Weisskopf and on behalf of so many people whose expertise and enthusiasm have made this breakthrough in astrophysics possible.”

Developed by NASA, the Italian Space Agency, and partners in a dozen countries, IXPE was launched to space on Dec. 9, 2021. Today, it orbits Earth some 340 miles up to observe X-ray emissions from powerful cosmic phenomena hundreds or thousands of light-years away. In 2023 alone, its subjects of study included blazars such as Markarian 501 and Markarian 421, supernova remnants including Tycho and SN 1006, and the supermassive black hole at the center of our own galaxy. Its success led NASA to formally extend the mission for an additional 20 months, through at least September 2025.

Artist rendition of the Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer
An artist’s illustration of the IXPE spacecraft in orbit, studying high-energy phenomena light-years from Earth.
NASA

“We at NASA are incredibly proud of Dr. Weisskopf and the IXPE team around the world,” said acting Marshall Center Director Joseph Pelfrey. “IXPE allows us to look at the universe through a vantage point never seen before. It’s particularly gratifying to continue Marshall’s long association with the Rossi Prize, which identifies singular breakthroughs and unprecedented innovation in high-energy astrophysics – a field in which our researchers excel.”

Weisskopf, together with Harvard astrophysicist Harvey Tananbaum, previously received the Rossi Prize in 2004 for their work to develop and fly NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which continues to study X-ray phenomena across the cosmos. Marshall researchers Gerald Fishman and Colleen Wilson-Hodge also were awarded the Rossi Prize in 1994 and 2018, respectively. Fishman was honored for his contributions to the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory’s BATSE (Burst and Transient Source Experiment) mission, Wilson-Hodge for her work with the Fermi GBM (Gamma-ray Burst Monitor) in August 2017, detecting gravitational and light waves from the spectacular smashup of two neutron stars in a distant galaxy.

The Rossi Prize is awarded annually for a significant recent contribution to high-energy astrophysics. The honor includes an engraved certificate and a $1,500 award.

Smith, an Aeyon/MTS employee, supports the Marshall Office of Communications.

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National Mentoring Month: The Right Type of Mentorship with Erika Alvarez and Dave Reynolds

By Celine Smith

Erika Alvarez’s path to becoming a Systems Engineering & Integration manager at NASA Headquarters has impacted the way she mentors.

“What we do at NASA takes a village,” Alvarez said. “It may take one person to make something, but there could be 10 or 15 or 20 people who help them get there.”

alvarez-hq-portrait-14aug2022.jpg?w=1638
Erika Alvarez, System Engineering and Integration manager at NASA Headquarters, and mentor to Dave Reynolds, a deputy program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
NASA

Alvarez wants to be one of many guiding others to meet their goals, which is how she began mentoring Dave Reynolds, a deputy program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Alvarez and Reynolds don’t have a traditional mentorship. Both began in Marshall’s propulsion systems department in 2004. While Alvarez is younger than Reynolds, Alvarez is mentoring Reynolds.

Alvarez may not have decades more experience than Reynolds, but Alvarez joining the SES (Senior Executive Service) coincided with Reynolds wanting to transition to the SES. Their shared working experience and similar goal made a perfect fit for their mentorship.

Dave Reynolds
Reynolds is currently being mentored by Alvarez in preparation for a Senior Executive Service position.
NASA

Hoping their experience can help others during National Mentoring Month, they discussed their insight about finding the right type of mentorship.

Question: What does mentorship mean to you?

Reynolds: Mentorship is an outside perspective that benefits me by providing a better solution. You can ask your mentor about your ideas to self-examine the path that you’re on. They know you and have your best interest in mind. Your decisions are not directly going to affect them, so they can offer candid advice.

Alvarez: For me, mentorship is worth the time investment because we can get stuck in our day-to-day routine. It’s a refreshing time during the week to sit down with someone knowing what they’re experiencing and helping them, so they don’t have to navigate certain challenges on their own. I have templates, articles, rubrics, books, and other perspectives I gained through my first year in SES. Now I can offer those resources. It’s something that I want to pass on to somebody else because it takes a village to do this. Mentoring is very energizing and fruitful. It reminds me that I love NASA and it’s a great place to work. I hope that I can provide that feeling and energy to someone else and it just keeps going.

Question: What impact has mentorship had on you and your career?

Alvarez: With Dave and I starting from the same department, we had some of the same mentors early on. Mentors give you confidence to move to the next role when you’re down in the details, doing the work, and years into a position. I would also say I was fortunate enough to have a great mentor that was outside of my department. The most important trait she gave to me was resiliency. There are many times when you go for something and are unsuccessful. Having somebody that believes in you during those times is huge.

Reynolds: My first formal mentor was assigned to me while I was in the Mid-Level Leadership Program and she was in SES at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. She encouraged me to get out of engineering, because she believed I was ready for a leadership role. Without her, I wouldn’t have transitioned as quickly as I did. My current mentorship is also kicking me to the next level and informing me of all the options I need to consider. Having a mentor that has known you for a long time, like Alvarez, is beneficial. You can trust their guidance more because they’ve seen you fail, and they still believe in your success.

Question: What was the initial goal and how has that impacted the type of mentoring relationship you built?

Reynolds: The initial goal was Alvarez prepping me to become SES qualified and she’s helped me at every step. Alvarez encouraged me to apply for the ASPIRE program. Programs and tools like that are exactly what I need to know about. She’s provided a lot of information that I didn’t know I would need to consider.

A young Alvarez, third from left, and Reynolds, far right, smile for a photo taken while they were both working in the propulsion systems department at Marshall.
A young Alvarez, third from left, and Reynolds, far right, smile for a photo taken while they were both working in the propulsion systems department at Marshall.
NASA

Alvarez: I mentor a lot of people at different levels. Reynolds is a unique mentee because he is seeking out a big goal. Other mentees coming to me are in different stages, or they’re in a similar field and want to discuss the type of work I do. His goal is personal. I don’t want Reynolds to feel unprepared. I want him to go into his interview and any future roles with confidence and his best foot forward. I want Dave’s future peers to know he’s ready to lead. If Dave is successful in achieving his goal, I want to help him through that transition during the first year of his new role as well, especially with the person who last had the position being gone. I have executive mentors who are the only people I can discuss certain topics with. A part of the goal is Reynolds’ long-term success, which is why it’s important for him to have access to that network of people. If Reynolds needs help with something I’m not well-versed in, I can get him in contact with someone who is.

Question: How do you think the dynamic between mentor and mentee may differ in a formal mentoring relationship compared to an informal, casual mentoringencounter?

Reynolds: Formal mentoring relationships are more deliberate. We have a goal that we set. We’re not just having lunch, we set a scheduled time where we each have ideas we bring to discuss. Formal encounters are more structured. With informal mentorships you can also have casual lunches where good advice is thrown back and forth, but I have noticed if you’re more deliberate, you’ll get concrete progress.

Alvarez: Dave having a specific objective made the mentorship formal. The structure provided time for me to gather materials I found helpful in preparation for SES. With a hands-on approach, I could help Reynolds during his time in the ASPIRE program. We methodically planned how to reach each goal and in turn the objective. As we’re doing the work, we’re checking in consistently. Informal mentorships are hard. There’s no set amount of time spent together, and its disorganization makes it easier to lose momentum toward the objective. Informal mentorships also make it harder to feel a sense of accomplishment because progress is harder to assess.

Question: What advice do you have for someone else considering finding or being a mentor?

Alvarez: Think outside the box. Some people come in with an unconscious bias of what a mentor is. Mentees can become overly concerned with a mentor’s background. Not knowing their background is a good thing. Remain open minded about what someone else can offer you. You’re always going to get some good nuggets out of a mentorship. If someone suggests a mentor to you, take it. They might see something that neither of you do that would make a great pairing. I also recommend that some people choose mentors with a different career path like Dave and me. We shared the same foundation but then we went off in two different branches. Getting to combine those different insights is amazing because it makes us stronger.

Reynolds: As a mentee, check that you have humility. It’d be easy for me to dismiss Alvarez as a mentor because of our similarities. I recognize, she’s had a completely different life and is therefore capable of giving me an outside perspective. She’s also wicked smart, and I listen to wicked smart people. I’ve heard people reject advice from others because they are on the same tier or below career wise. That’s not a good approach. Ask yourself who can help with growth as opposed to finding somebody that that will help you up the ladder.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a Marshall Star series during National Mentoring Month in January. Marshall team members can learn more about the benefits of mentoring on Inside Marshall.

Smith, a Media Fusion employee, supports the Marshall Office of Communications.

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Larry Leopard Named Acting Director of Marshall’s Engineering Directorate

Larry Leopard has been named acting director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Engineering Directorate upon the retirement of Don Holder this month. He will fill the role until a permanent director is named as well as continuing his duties as Marshall’s associate director, technical.

Larry Leopard Official Portrait
Larry Leopard, Marshall’s associate director, technical, has been named acting director of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Engineering Directorate.
NASA

As Marshall’s associate director, technical, Leopard provides expert advice in all facets of the center’s responsibilities by conducting special studies; provides authoritative advice and assistance in policy review; manages and reports on centerwide and directorate metrics; and develops benchmark strategies. He was appointed to the position in December 2020. Leopard previously served as director of the Engineering Directorate from 2018 to 2020.

Lisa Bates
Lisa Bates will remain as deputy director of Marshall’s Engineering Directorate.
NASA

Lisa Bates will remain as deputy director and will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Engineering Directorate.

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I Am Artemis: Erick Holsonback

Whether he’s advising student robotic competitions or managing production of a powerful, new Moon rocket stage, Erick Holsonback meets technical challenges with enthusiasm.

Holsonback, a Jacobs Technology employee, is subsystem manager for production and launch operations of the exploration upper stage (EUS) for NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket. SLS is NASA’s super heavy lift rocket that will launch the agency’s Artemis campaign to the Moon. The exploration upper stage is one of two upgrades to the SLS rocket as it evolves to the Block 1B variant for missions beginning with Artemis IV. Along with the rocket’s new universal stage adapter, the SLS rocket in its Block 1B configuration will be able to send 40% more payload to the Moon in a single launch.

Erick Holsonback
Eric Holsonback, a Jacobs Technology employee, is subsystem manager for production and launch operations of the exploration upper stage for NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket.
NASA/Michael DeMocker

Holsonback’s job stretches from setting up production for the future upper stage at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, where it’s built, to preparing it for launch from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center.

“It’s exciting to be part of a capability that will send more crew and cargo to the Moon in a single launch than any other current rocket,” Holsonback said. “That’s going to make operations in the challenging space environment a lot simpler.”

Growing up in North Georgia, Holsonback remembers wanting to be an astronaut and turning street cars into hot rods. He figured he’d wind up in the auto industry, until Pratt & Whitney offered him a job working on space shuttle main engine turbomachinery straight out of college in 1997. He briefly left the space business but jumped at a chance to get back in with the SLS Program in 2016 at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

“I wanted to come back and do rockets,” he recalled. “It gets in your blood. You’re part of something bigger that just yourself. Through Artemis, we are truly impacting the space program at its foundational level of how we are getting back to the Moon and to Mars.”

Holsonback’s enthusiasm for space challenges doesn’t end at the office door. In his free time, Holsonback has mentored and coached his two daughters’ technology challenge competitions. While the challenge is foremost a robotics contest, Holsonback is proud of the lessons in problem solving, technology, and project management he’s helped impart to the team along the way – which he likens to his NASA job.

You could say Erick Holsonback is working on the future personally as well as professionally, but it’s hard to beat working on a Moon rocket.

“I’ve had some great opportunities with NASA, but my current role is pretty amazing – getting to be part of building and launching,” he reflected. “I get to play a little part in the overall foundation work that is going to be part of the history of our country for years to come.”

NASA is working to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon under Artemis. SLS is part of NASA’s backbone for deep space exploration, along with the Orion spacecraft, advanced spacesuits and rovers, the Gateway in orbit around the Moon, and commercial human landing systems. SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts, and supplies to the Moon in a single launch.

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Mission Success is in Our Hands: Greg Drayer

By Wayne Smith

Mission Success is in Our Hands is a safety initiative collaboration between NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Jacobs. As part of the initiative, eight Marshall team members are featured in new testimonial banners placed around the center. This is the third in a Marshall Star series profiling team members featured in the testimonial banners.

Greg Drayer is the JSEG (Jacobs Space Exploration Group) team lead for EV74, the Systems Analysis Branch, working at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. He is also the JSEG Tech Fellow for Modeling and Simulation.

Greg Drayer is the JSEG (Jacobs Space Exploration Group) team lead for EV74, the Systems Analysis Branch, working at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
Greg Drayer is the JSEG (Jacobs Space Exploration Group) team lead for EV74, the Systems Analysis Branch, working at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
NASA/Charles Beason

He previously was a Modeling and Simulation integration systems engineer, representing NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) Program to the Data Integration Integrated Task Team and supporting the certification of Design Math Models. He started working at Marshall in 2020. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Drayer is a graduate of both Universidad Simon Bolivar, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and magister in systems engineering, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned his doctorate with the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State International Fulbright Science and Technology Program.

Question: What are some of your key responsibilities?

Drayer: I am responsible for the proactive management of the EV74 Branch JSEG Task Order and Systems Evaluation personnel to ensure the safe and effective accomplishment of Marshall requirements by providing engineering, scientific, and technical support to various NASA programs. My team is a high-performing group of three different sub-teams executing challenging tasks for Marshall’s Systems Engineering and Integration Division (EV70) in support of SLS, HLS (Human Landing System), and MAV (Mars Ascent Vehicle) programs, providing unique expertise in the following domains:

  • Program compliance with the NASA Standard for Models and Simulations, NASA-STD-7009.
  • Vehicle mass properties and weight management.
  • SLS photogrammetric imaging and analysis.
  • Data integration tools, systems, and processes.
  • Adoption of model-based systems engineering methodologies.

Question: How does your work support the safety and success of NASA and Marshall missions?

Drayer: The goal of our Modeling and Simulation Sub-Team at NASA is to help reduce the risks associated with models and simulations-influenced decisions by properly conveying the credibility of results to those making critical decisions in support of program compliance with NASA-STD-7009, Standard for Models and Simulations. We ensure the NASA’s commitment to excellence in satisfying the requirements of NASA-STD-7009, an outcome resulting from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report.

Question: What does the Mission Success is in Our Hands initiative mean to you?

Drayer: Working in support of NASA-STD-7009, this initiative hits close to home as another reminder of why we do our work the way we are required. Beyond any statistics, to me this campaign is a reminder and a challenge to ensure that we ‘Know what we build. Test what we build. Test what we fly. Test like we fly.’ We should continue learning from our past to make sure that it does not repeat in the future. This initiative helps us dedicate the time to remember why we do things the way we do them, and how we arrived at today’s NASA culture.

Question: Do you have a story or personal experience you can share that might help others understand the significance of mission assurance or flight safety?

Drayer: Coming back from COVID-19 has been a great challenge to overcome. Incredibly, we all have found some strange comfort zones from which we are now needing to come back to collaborate better. I know how much some of us value our ability to telework at times. However, I would like us all to also understand how some in-person conversations can save us many if not several hours of unending electronic communications. I would like all of us to demonstrate to ourselves why we truly need to be present in our meetings and engage as best as we can to reap the fruit of those interactions. Let us lead by example and ‘preach’ about it along the way with our actions, to the benefit of the NASA culture in a post-COVID era. As an agency, this can greatly impact our ability to ensure mission success and flight safety.

Question: How can we work together better to achieve mission success?

Drayer: We go all the way to the Moon in search of discoveries, science, and developing new technologies. And even beyond all these, we go to the Moon to find ourselves personally and each other. That journey has begun already with each weekday and at times weekends that we dedicate to work with the mission in mind, working hard to meet and exceed the expectations of our customers and our stakeholders, most important of which are our astronauts and their families.

Smith, a Media Fusion employee and the Marshall Star editor, supports the Marshall Office of Communications.

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NASA Continues Artemis Moon Rocket Engine Tests with First Hot Fire of 2024

NASA continued a critical test series for future flights of NASA’s SLS (Space Launch System) rocket in support of the Artemis campaign Jan. 17 with a full-duration hot fire of the RS-25 engine on the Fred Haise Test Stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

Data collected from the test series will be used to certify production of new RS-25 engines by lead contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, an L3Harris Technologies company, to help power the SLS rocket on future Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond, beginning with Artemis V. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the SLS Program.

a hot fire of an RS-25 engine reflected in nearby body of water
NASA completed a full-duration, 500-second hot fire of an RS-25 certification engine Jan. 17, continuing a critical test series to support future SLS (Space Launch System) missions to the Moon and beyond as NASA explores the secrets of the universe for the benefit of all.
NASA/Danny Nowlin

Teams are evaluating the performance of several new engine components, including a nozzle, hydraulic actuators, flex ducts, and turbopumps. The current series is the second and final series to certify production of the upgraded engines. NASA completed an initial 12-test certification series with the upgraded components in June 2023.

During the Jan. 17 test, operators followed a “test like you fly” approach, firing the engine for the same amount of time – almost eight-and-a-half minutes (500 seconds) – needed to launch SLS and at power levels ranging between 80% to 113%.

The Jan. 17 test comes three months after the current series began in October. During three tests last fall, operators fired the engine for durations from 500 to 650 seconds. The longest planned test of the series occurred on Nov. 29 when crews gimbaled, or steered, the engine during an almost 11-minute (650 seconds) hot fire. The gimbaling technique is used to control and stabilize SLS as it reaches orbit.

Each SLS flight is powered by four RS-25 engines, firing simultaneously during launch and ascent to generate over 2 million pounds of thrust.

The first four Artemis missions with SLS are using modified space shuttle main engines that can power up to 109% of their rated level. The newly produced RS-25 engines will power up to the 111% level to provide additional thrust. Testing to the 113% power level provides an added margin of operational safety.

With the completion of the test campaign in 2024, all systems are expected to be “go” for production of 24 new RS-25 engines for missions beginning with Artemis V.

Through Artemis, NASA will establish a long-term presence at the Moon for scientific exploration with commercial and international partners, learn how to live and work away from home, and prepare for future human exploration of Mars.

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Station Crew Assists Ax-3 on Advanced Space Research

The Expedition 70 crew spent Jan. 23 on a host of research activities and spacesuit maintenance while assisting their Axiom Mission 3 (Ax-3) guests on the International Space Station. The four Ax-3 crew members had their hands full as they explored cancer research, space botany, and robotics for Earth and space benefits.

The Ax-3 crew arrived Jan. 20. Astronauts Andreas Mogensen, Loral O’Hara, and Satoshi Furukawa dedicated part of their schedule to the Ax-3 mission. The trio helped the four private astronauts get up to speed with life on orbit as well as conduct advanced microgravity science.

The four Axiom Mission 3 astronauts, front row, and the seven Expedition 70 crew members wave to the camera following a crew greeting ceremony on the International Space Station on Jan. 20.
The four Axiom Mission 3 astronauts, front row, and the seven Expedition 70 crew members wave to the camera following a crew greeting ceremony on the International Space Station on Jan. 20.
NASA TV

Mogensen from ESA (European Space Agency) spent a couple of hours ensuring the Ax-3 crewmates are familiarized with systems throughout the orbital lab. O’Hara from NASA set up the LSG (Life Science Glovebox) for an Ax-3 space botany investigation while Furukawa from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration) activated a microscope to look at cell samples for an Ax-3 cancer study.

Ax-3 Commander Michael López-Alegría and Mission Specialist Alper Gezeravcı worked in the Kibo laboratory module’s LSG and tested the genetic editing of space-grown plants. Results may enable genetic modifications allowing plants to adapt to weightlessness and promote crew health. Ax-3 Pilot Walter Villadei peered at cell samples inside the Kermit microscope to learn how to predict and prevent cancer both on Earth and in space.

Ax-3 Mission Specialist Marcus Wandt tested the ability to remotely control robots on Earth from the space station. Working in the Columbus laboratory module, Wandt used a laptop computer to command a team of Earth-bound robots simulating a robotic exploration mission on another planet controlled from a spacecraft.

Mogensen would go on to organize food packs, charge virtual reality hardware for a mental health study, then videotape a space physics demonstration for junior high school students. Furukawa serviced science freezers and combustion research gear before cleaning vents inside the Unity module. Furukawa wrapped up his day with eye checks with NASA Flight Engineer Jasmin Moghbeli. O’Hara operated the medical imaging gear examining the optic nerve, retina, and cornea of both astronauts. Moghbeli earlier installed and tested a camera and lights on a spacesuit helmet.

The orbiting lab’s three cosmonauts from Roscosmos focused on operations in their segment. Veteran Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko spent his day inspecting the Zvezda service module and servicing communication and computer systems in the Nauka science module. Flight Engineer Nikolai Chub photographed the condition of Zvezda’s windows then studied how microgravity conditions such as magnetic and electrical fields affect fluid physics. Flight Engineer Konstantin Borisov deactivated Earth observation gear, downloaded vibration data the station experiences while orbiting Earth, then worked on orbital plumbing duties.

The Payload Operations Integration Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center operates, plans, and coordinates the science experiments onboard the space station 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog.

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NASA’S OSIRIS-REx Curation Team Reveals Remaining Asteroid Sample

The astromaterials curation team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has completed the disassembly of the OSIRIS-REx sampler head to reveal the remainder of the asteroid Bennu sample inside. On Jan. 10, they successfully removed two stubborn fasteners that had prevented the final steps of opening the TAGSAM (Touch-and-Go-Sample-Acquisition-Mechanism) head.

top-down-view-of-osiris-rex-sample.jpg?w
A top-down view of the OSIRIS-REx Touch-and-Go-Sample-Acquisition-Mechanism head with the lid removed, revealing the remainder of the asteroid sample inside.
NASA/Erika Blumenfeld & Joseph Aebersold

Erika Blumenfeld, creative lead for AIVA (Advanced Imaging and Visualization of Astromaterials) and Joe Aebersold, AIVA project lead, captured a photograph of the open TAGSAM head including the asteroid material inside using manual high-resolution precision photography and a semi-automated focus stacking procedure. The result is an image that shows extreme detail of the sample.

Next, the curation team will remove the round metal collar and prepare the glovebox to transfer the remaining sample from the TAGSAM head into pie-wedge sample trays.

These trays will be photographed before the sample is weighed, packaged, and stored at Johnson, home to the most extensive collection of astromaterials in the world. The remaining sample material includes dust and rocks up to about 0.4 inch in size. The final mass of the sample will be determined in the coming weeks. The curation team members had already collected 2.48 ounces of asteroid material from the sample hardware before the lid was removed, surpassing the agency’s goal of bringing at least 2.12 ounces to Earth.

The curation team will release a catalog of all the Bennu samples later this year, which will allow scientists and institutions around the world to submit requests for research or display.

OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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      “NASA has produced valuable science data that we make available to the community to use,” Ramachandran said. “I think the future would be that we not only provide the data, but we also provide these AI models that allow the science community to use the data effectively, whether it’s doing basic research or building applications like the locust breeding ground prediction.”
      As that future nears, Ramachandran and his team will be ready to help others in the science community find the data they need to learn and build the tools they’ll use for years to come.
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      Last Updated Jun 20, 2024 Related Terms
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    • By European Space Agency
      Video: 00:00:10 Summer officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere today 20 June, marking the longest day of the year. The summer solstice, which is when the Sun reaches the most northerly point in the sky, is set to occur tonight at 21:50 BST/22:50 CEST.
      During the summer solstice, the Northern Hemisphere will experience the longest period of sunlight in a day or the longest day of the year. This is because of Earth’s position in orbit around the Sun and the way the North Pole is tilted towards the Sun during the solstice. 
      The Sun’s rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at their most direct angle, resulting in the most extended period of daylight. Despite the long hours of daylight, it may not necessarily be the hottest day of the year. 
      This animation shows one image per day captured by the Meteosat Second Generation from 20 June 2023 until 19 June 2024 captured at approximately 16:30 BST/17:30 CEST.
      Access the related broadcast quality video material.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      20 Min Read The Marshall Star for June 18, 2024
      California Teams Win $1.5 Million in NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge
      By Savannah Bullard
      After two days of live competitions, two teams from southern California are heading home with a combined $1.5 million from NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge. 
      Since 2020, competitors from around the world have competed in this challenge with the common goal of inventing robots that can excavate and transport the icy regolith on the Moon. The lunar South Pole is the targeted landing site for crewed Artemis missions, so utilizing all resources in that area, including the ice within the dusty regolith inside the permanently shadowed regions, is vital for the success of a sustained human lunar presence.
      The husband-and-wife duo of Terra Engineering, Valerie and Todd Mendenhall, receive the $1 million prize June 12, for winning the final phase of NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge at Alabama A&M’s Agribition Center in Huntsville. With the Terra Engineering team at the awards ceremony are from left, Daniel K. Wims, Alabama A&M University president; Joseph Pelfrey, NASA Marshall Space Flight center director; NASA’s Break the Ice Challenge Manager Naveen Vetcha, and Majed El-Dweik, Alabama A&M University’s vice president of Research & Economic Development.NASA/Jonathan Deal On Earth, the mission architectures developed in this challenge aim to help guide machine design and operation concepts for future mining and excavation operations and equipment for decades.
      “Break the Ice represents a significant milestone in our journey toward sustainable lunar exploration and a future human presence on the Moon,” said Joseph Pelfrey, center director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. “This competition has pushed the boundaries of what is possible by challenging the brightest minds to devise groundbreaking solutions for excavating lunar ice, a crucial resource for future missions. Together, we are forging a future where humanity ventures further into the cosmos than ever before.”
      The final round of the Break the Ice competition featured six finalist teams who succeeded in an earlier phase of the challenge. The competition took place at the Alabama A&M Agribition Center in Huntsville on June 11 and 12, where each team put their diverse solutions to the test in a series of trials, using terrestrial resources like gravity-offloading cranes, concrete slabs, and a rocky track with tricky obstacles to mimic the environment on the Moon.
      The husband-and-wife duo of Terra Engineering took home the top prize for their “Fracture” rover. Team lead Todd Mendenhall competed in NASA’s 2007 Regolith Excavation Challenge, facilitated through NASA’s Centennial Challenges, which led him and Valerie Mendenhall to continue the pursuit of solutions for autonomous lunar excavation.
      A small space hardware business, Starpath Robotics, earned the second-place prize for its four-wheeled rover that can mine, collect, and haul material. The team, led by Saurav Shroff and lead engineer Mihir Gondhalekar, developed a robotic mining tool that features a drum barrel scraping mechanism for breaking into the tough lunar surface. This allows the robot to mine material quickly and robustly without sacrificing energy.
      “This challenge has been pivotal in advancing the technologies we need to achieve a sustained human presence on the Moon,” said Kim Krome, the Acting Program Manager for NASA’s Centennial Challenges. “Terra Engineering’s rover, especially, bridged several of the technology gaps that we identified – for instance, being robust and resilient enough to traverse rocky landscapes and survive the harsh conditions of the lunar South Pole.”
      Starpath Robotics earned the second place prize for its four-wheeled rover that can mine, collect, and haul material during the final phase of NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge. From left, Matt Kruszynski, Saurav Shroff, Matt Khudari, Alan Hsu, David Aden, Mihir Gondhalekarl, Joshua Huang, and Aakash Ramachandran.NASA/Jonathan Deal Beyond the $1.5 million in prize funds, three teams will be given the chance to use Marshall Space Flight Center’s thermal vacuum (TVAC) chambers to continue testing and developing their robots. These chambers use thermal vacuum technologies to create a simulated lunar environment, allowing scientists and researchers to build, test, and approve hardware for flight-ready use.
      The following teams performed exceptionally well in the excavation portion of the final competition, earning these invitations to the TVAC facilities:
      Terra Engineering (Gardena, California) Starpath Robotics (Hawthorne, California) Michigan Technological University – Planetary Surface Technology Development Lab (Houghton, Michigan) “We’re looking forward to hosting three of our finalists at our thermal vacuum chamber, where they will get full access to continue testing and developing their technologies in our state-of-the-art facilities,” said Break the Ice Challenge Manager Naveen Vetcha, who supports NASA’s Centennial Challenges through Jacobs Space Exploration Group. “Hopefully, these tests will allow the teams to take their solutions to the next level and open the door for opportunities for years to come.”
      NASA’s Break the Ice Lunar Challenge is a NASA Centennial Challenge led by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center, with support from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Centennial Challenges are part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing program under NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. Ensemble Consultancy supports challenge competitors. Alabama A&M University, in coordination with NASA, supports the final competitions and winner event for the challenge.
      Bullard, a Manufacturing Technical Solutions Inc. employee, supports the Marshall Office of Communications.
      › Back to Top
      NASA Announces Winners of 2024 Student Launch Competition
      Over 1,000 students from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico launched high-powered, amateur rockets on April 13, just north of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, as part of the agency’s annual Student Launch competition.
      Teams of middle school, high school, college, and university students were tasked to design, build, and launch a rocket and scientific payload to an altitude between 4,000 and 6,000 feet, while making a successful landing and executing a scientific or engineering payload mission.
      High school and collegiate student teams gathered just north of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to participate in the agency’s annual Student Launch competition April 13.Credits: NASA/Charles Beason “These bright students rise to a nine-month challenge that tests their skills in engineering, design, and teamwork,” said Kevin McGhaw, director of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement Southeast Region. “They are the Artemis Generation, the future scientists, engineers, and innovators who will lead us into the future of space exploration.”
      NASA announced the University of Notre Dame is the overall winner of the agency’s 2024 Student Launch challenge, followed by Iowa State University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A complete list challenge winners can be found on the agency’s student launch web page. NASA presented the 2024 Student Launch challenge award winners in a virtual award ceremony June 7.
      Each year NASA implements a new payload challenge to reflect relevant missions. This year’s payload challenge is inspired by the Artemis missions, which seek to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.
      The complete list of award winners are as follows:
      2024 Overall Winners
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: Iowa State University, Ames Third place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte 3D Printing Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Tennessee Chattanooga Middle/High School Level:
      First place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Altitude Award
      College Level:
      First place: Iowa State University, Ames Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Morris County 4-H, Califon, New Jersey Best-Looking Rocket Award:
      College Level:
      First place: New York University, Brooklyn, New York Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Notre Dame Academy High School, Los Angeles American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Reusable Launch Vehicle Innovative Payload Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Second place: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee Third place: Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Judge’s Choice Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Second place: Young Engineers in Action, LaPalma, California Third place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Project Review Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Florida, Gainesville AIAA Reusable Launch Vehicle Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Florida, Gainesville Second place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Third place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana AIAA Rookie Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Safety Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: University of Florida, Gainesville Third place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Social Media Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Newark Memorial High School, Newark, California STEM Engagement Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Third place: New York University, Brooklyn, New York Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Notre Dame Academy High School, Los Angeles, California Second place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Third place: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia Service Academy Award:
      First place: United States Air Force Academy, USAF Academy, Colorado
      Vehicle Design Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Second place: Explorer Post 1010, Rockville, Maryland Third place: Plantation High School, Plantation, Florida Payload Design Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Young Engineers in Action, LaPalma, California Second place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Third place: Spring Grove Area High School, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania Student Launch is one of NASA’s nine Artemis Student Challenges, activities which connect student ingenuity with NASA’s work returning to the Moon under Artemis in preparation for human exploration of Mars.
      The competition is managed by Marshall’s Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM). Additional funding and support are provided by NASA’s OSTEM via the Next Gen STEM project, NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, Northrup Grumman, National Space Club Huntsville, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Association of Rocketry, Relativity Space, and Bastion Technologies.
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      Keith Savoy Named Deputy Director at Michoud Assembly Facility
      Keith Savoy has been named deputy director of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility, effective June 16.
      Savoy will assist in managing the day-to-day operations of one of the world’s largest manufacturing facilities, where key elements of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), and Orion spacecraft are built. Michoud, a multi-tenant manufacturing site sitting on 829 acres with over 2 million square feet of manufacturing space, is managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and provides facility infrastructure and capacity for federal, state, academic, and technology-based industry partners.
      Keith Savoy has been named deputy director of NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility.NASA Savoy was the chief operating officer of Michoud Assembly Facility from 2022-2024, where he oversaw the day-to-day administrative and operational functions of the NASA-owned facility, helping sustain SLS and Orion production efforts and coordinating requirements and logistics with Michoud tenant leadership for approximately 3,500 Michoud employees.
      He previously served as manager of the Office of Center Operations of Michoud from 2016-2022. His responsibilities included managing the facility’s planning, maintenance, design, construction, and engineering. Savoy also oversaw energy and water conservation, environmental permitting and compliance, industrial hygiene, and medical, security, and logistics services, where he was responsible for managing over $350 million of supplemental funding projects sitewide.
      Savoy also held the position of lead engineer, Logistics and Operation Planning for NASA from 2007-2016 at Michoud as an expert consultant for all engineering aspects of the facility. He managed multi-phase projects and helped advance aerospace manufacturing at Michoud to meet the complex requirements of SLS and Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle programs, ensuring environmental compliance. Savoy worked closely with local, state, and federal environmental regulatory agencies to identify and resolve engineering and environmental issues. His expertise was a key contributor to ensuring NASA’s sustainable and environmental goals were achieved.
      Prior to working for NASA, Savoy held several positions of increasing responsibility with Lockheed Martin from 1988-2007. As manager of Operational Planning and Layout, he was responsible for managing the Construction of Facilities. This required developing and implementing plans, outlining scope-of-work, overseeing large-scale project budgets, and Project Definition Rating assessment/score and 1509 development. Savoy implemented Six Sigma & Lean principles concepts to achieve many successes and identified innovative solutions and best practices to satisfy customer requirements. Savoy was also the manager of the Infrastructure Enhancement Team where he managed over 160 personnel and a $10 million budget.
      Savoy has a Master of Science in environmental management from National Technological University in Fort Collins, Colorado, a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and a technical degree in industrial instrumentation from International Technical Institute in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
      Throughout his career, Savoy has received various awards including the NASA Honor Award Outstanding Leadership Medal, Director’s Commendation Honor Award, Safety Flight Awareness Awards, and several Silver Medal Group Achievement Awards.
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      ‘NASA in the Park’ Returns to Rocket City June 22
      NASA in the Park is coming back to Big Spring Park East in Huntsville, Alabama, on June 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CDT. The event is free and open to the public.
      NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, its partners, and collaborators will fill the park with space exhibits, music, food vendors, and hands-on activities for all ages. Marshall is teaming up with Downtown Huntsville Inc. for this unique celebration of space and the Rocket City.
      “NASA in the Park gives us the opportunity to bring our work outside the gates of Redstone Arsenal and thank the community for their continuing support,” Marshall Director Joseph Pelfrey said. “It’s the first time we’ve held the event since 2018, and we look forward to sharing this experience with everyone.”
      Pelfrey will kick the event off with local leaders on the main stage. NASA speakers will spotlight topics ranging from space habitats to solar sails, and local rock band Five by Five will perform throughout the day.
      “NASA Marshall is leading the way in this new era of space exploration, for the benefit of all humankind,” Pelfrey said. “We are proud members of the Rocket City community, which has helped us push the boundaries of science, technology, and engineering for nearly 65 years.”
      › Back to Top
      Mission Success is in Our Hands: Baraka Truss
      By Wayne Smith
      Mission Success is in Our Hands is a safety initiative collaboration between NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Jacobs. As part of the initiative, eight Marshall team members are featured in testimonial banners placed around the center. This is the last in a Marshall Star series profiling team members featured in the testimonial banners. The Mission Success team also awards the Golden Eagle Award on a quarterly basis to Marshall and contractor personnel who are nominated by their peers or management. Candidates for this award have made significant, identifiable contributions that exceed normal job expectations to advance flight safety and mission assurance. Nominations for 2024 are open now online on Inside Marshall.
      Baraka Truss is the Avionics and Software Branch chief at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA/Charles Beason Baraka Truss is the Avionics and Software Branch chief in the Safety and Mission Assurance Organization, Vehicle Systems Department, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Her key responsibilities include being viewed as a leadership role model, “demonstrating commitment to the mission and NASA’s core values, creating the most impact for the greater agency, and engaging in activities that promote supervisory excellence and value beyond the immediate organization.”
      Truss has worked at Marshall for 28 years. Her previous roles have been software engineer, Software Engineering Process Group lead, special assistant to the center director, Independent Assessment Team lead, Software Quality Discipline lead engineer, Software Assurance Team lead, and     SLS (Space Launch System) Software chief safety officer.
      A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Truss earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science from Alabama A&M University in Huntsville.
      Question: How does your work support the safety and success of NASA and Marshall missions?
      Truss: My work involves daily managing and interactions with the avionics and software team members whose mission is to ensure the safety of hardware and software for various programs and projects at Marshall and NASA.
      Question: What does the initiative campaign “Mission Success is in Our Hands” mean to you?
      Truss: That when risks arise, we should be sure to listen to all sides and make informed decisions, be held accountable, and speak up for what is safe when we need to do so.
      Question: Do you have a story or personal experience you can share that might help others understand the significance of mission assurance or flight safety? What did you learn from it?
      Truss: In my experience, mission assurance requires you to “believe the unlikely.” I have learned that believing what you have never seen requires you to stretch your imagination, because we are prone to discount and devalue things that we have not seen. We are skeptical about things that have never been seen, never been done, never been achieved, or never been accomplished.
      Because according to our limited logic if it’s never been seen, never been done, never been achieved, or never been accomplished, then it’s not likely to be seen, not likely to be done, not likely to be achieved, and not likely to be accomplished. Therefore, we see no need to attempt it, try it, believe it, or invest in it because while we’ll acknowledge that it’s possible, we quickly add it’s not probable, because our idea of likelihood is limited by our experience. My experiences working for NASA have stretched me to an amazing place of accountability, assurance, and mission success.
      Question: How can we work together better to achieve mission success?
      Truss: Again, by listening to all sides and making informed decisions, being held accountable, and speaking up for what is safe when we need to do so.
      Smith, a Media Fusion employee and the Marshall Star editor, supports the Marshall Office of Communications.
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      That’s the Spirit: Marshall Team Members Show Support at Community Softball Game
      NASA shows its team spirit during the Armed Forces Celebration Community Softball Game on June 12 at Toyota Field. Marshall Space Flight Center’s Robert Champion and Jason Adam joined Team Redstone to take on the North Alabama Rockets, made up of community leaders. (Huntsville Sports Commission)
      › Back to Top
      Coming in Hot: NASA’s Chandra Checks Habitability of Exoplanets
      This graphic shows a three-dimensional map of stars near the Sun. These stars are close enough that they could be prime targets for direct imaging searches for planets using future telescopes. The blue haloes represent stars that have been observed with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton. The yellow star at the center of this diagram represents the position of the Sun. The concentric rings show distances of 5, 10, and 15 parsecs (one parsec is equivalent to roughly 3.2 light-years).
      Astronomers are using these X-ray data to determine how habitable exoplanets may be based on whether they receive lethal radiation from the stars they orbit, as described in a press release. This type of research will help guide observations with the next generation of telescopes aiming to make the first images of planets like Earth.
      To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video
      This video shows a three-dimensional map of stars near the Sun on the left side of the screen and a dramatic illustration of a star with a planet orbiting around it on the right side.Movie: Cal Poly Pomona/B. Binder; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss Researchers examined stars that are close enough to Earth that telescopes set to begin operating in the next decade or two – including the Habitable Worlds Observatory in space and Extremely Large Telescopes on the ground – could take images of planets in the stars’ so-called habitable zones. This term defines orbits where the planets could have liquid water on their surfaces.
      There are several factors influencing what could make a planet suitable for life as we know it. One of those factors is the amount of harmful X-rays and ultraviolet light they receive, which can damage or even strip away the planet’s atmosphere.
      Based on X-ray observations of some of these stars using data from Chandra and XMM-Newton, the research team examined which stars could have hospitable conditions on orbiting planets for life to form and prosper. They studied how bright the stars are in X-rays, how energetic the X-rays are, and how much and how quickly they change in X-ray output, for example, due to flares. Brighter and more energetic X-rays can cause more damage to the atmospheres of orbiting planets.
      The researchers used almost 10 days of Chandra observations and about 26 days of XMM observations, available in archives, to examine the X-ray behavior of 57 nearby stars, some of them with known planets. Most of these are giant planets like Jupiter, Saturn or Neptune, while only a handful of planets or planet candidates could be less than about twice as massive as Earth.
      These results were presented at the 244th meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, by Breanna Binder (California State Polytechnic University in Pomona).
      NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center manages the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center controls science from Cambridge, Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.
      › Back to Top
      NASA Announces New System to Aid Disaster Response
      In early May, widespread flooding and landslides occurred in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, leaving thousands of people without food, water, or electricity. In the following days, NASA teams provided data and imagery to help on-the-ground responders understand the disaster’s impacts and deploy aid.
      Building on this response and similar successes, on June 13, NASA announced a new system to support disaster response organizations in the U.S. and around the world.
      Members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue team in Adiyaman, Turkey, conducting rescue efforts in the wake of powerful earthquakes that struck the region in February 2023. NASA provided maps and data to support USAID and other regional partners during these earthquakes.USAID “When disasters strike, NASA is here to help – at home and around the world,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “As challenges from extreme weather grow, so too does the value of NASA’s efforts to provide critical Earth observing data to disaster-response teams on the frontlines. We’ve done so for years. Now, through this system, we expand our capability to help power our U.S. government partners, international partners, and relief organizations across the globe as they take on disasters – and save lives.”
      The team behind NASA’s Disaster Response Coordination System gathers science, technology, data, and expertise from across the agency and provides it to emergency managers. The new system will be able to provide up-to-date information on fires, earthquakes, landslides, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme events.
      “The risk from climate-related hazards is increasing, making more people vulnerable to extreme events,” said Karen St. Germain, director of NASA’s Earth Science Division. “This is particularly true for the 10% of the global population living in low-lying coastal regions who are vulnerable to storm surges, waves and tsunamis, and rapid erosion. NASA’s disaster system is designed to deliver trusted, actionable Earth science in ways and means that can be used immediately, to enable effective response to disasters and ultimately help save lives.”
      Agencies working with NASA include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Agency for International Development – as well as international organizations such as World Central Kitchen.
      “With this deliberate and structured approach, we can be even more effective in putting Earth science into action,” said Josh Barnes, at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Barnes manages the Disaster Response Coordination System.
      NASA Administrator Bill Nelson delivers remarks June 13 during an event launching a new Disaster Response Coordination System that will provide communities and organizations around the world with access to science and data to aid disaster response. NASA/Bill Ingalls NASA Disasters Team Aiding Brazil
      When the floods and landslides ravaged parts of Brazil in May, officials from the U.S. Southern Command – working with the U.S. Space Force and Air Force, and regional partners – reached out to NASA for Earth-observing data.
      NASA’s response included maps of potential power outages from the Black Marble project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Disaster response coordinators at NASA Goddard also reviewed high-resolution optical data – from the Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition Program – to map more than 4,000 landslides.
      Response coordinators from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology produced flood extent maps using data from the NASA and U.S. Geological Survey Landsat mission and from ESA’s (the European Space Agency) Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite. Response coordinators at NASA’s Johnson Space Center also provided photographs of the flooding taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
      Building on Previous Work
      The Brazil event is just one of hundreds of responses NASA has supported over the past decade. The team aids decision-making for a wide range of natural hazards and disasters, from hurricanes and earthquakes to tsunamis and oil spills. 
      “NASA’s Disasters Program advances science for disaster resilience and develops accessible resources to help communities around the world make informed decisions for disaster planning,” said Shanna McClain, manager of NASA’s Disasters Program. “The new Disaster Response Coordination System significantly expands our efforts to bring the power of Earth science when responding to disasters.”
      › Back to Top
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      ESA Impact 2024 – June Council Edition
      ESA Impact Council Edition: Spotlight on recent milestones
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      4 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      High school and collegiate student teams gathered just north of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to participate in the agency’s annual Student Launch competition April 13. Credits: NASA/Charles Beason Over 1,000 students from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico launched high-powered, amateur rockets on April 13, just north of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of the agency’s annual Student Launch competition.
      Teams of middle school, high school, college, and university students were tasked to design, build, and launch a rocket and scientific payload to an altitude between 4,000 and 6,000 feet, while making a successful landing and executing a scientific or engineering payload mission.
      “These bright students rise to a nine-month challenge that tests their skills in engineering, design, and teamwork,” said Kevin McGhaw, director of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement Southeast Region. “They are the Artemis Generation, the future scientists, engineers, and innovators who will lead us into the future of space exploration.”
      NASA announced the University of Notre Dame is the overall winner of the agency’s 2024 Student Launch challenge, followed by Iowa State University, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A complete list challenge winners can be found on the agency’s student launch web page.
      Each year NASA implements a new payload challenge to reflect relevant missions. This year’s payload challenge is inspired by the Artemis missions, which seek to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.
      The complete list of award winners are as follows:
      2024 Overall Winners
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: Iowa State University, Ames Third place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte 3D Printing Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Tennessee Chattanooga Middle/High School Level:
      First place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Altitude Award
      College Level:
      First place: Iowa State University, Ames Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Morris County 4-H, Califon, New Jersey Best-Looking Rocket Award:
      College Level:
      First place: New York University, Brooklyn, New York Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Notre Dame Academy High School, Los Angeles American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Reusable Launch Vehicle Innovative Payload Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Second place: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee Third place: Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Judge’s Choice Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Second place: Young Engineers in Action, LaPalma, California Third place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Project Review Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Florida, Gainesville AIAA Reusable Launch Vehicle Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Florida, Gainesville Second place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Third place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana AIAA Rookie Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Safety Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: University of Florida, Gainesville Third place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Social Media Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Colorado Boulder Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Newark Memorial High School, Newark, California STEM Engagement Award:
      College Level:
      First place: University of Notre Dame, Indiana Second place: University of North Carolina at Charlotte Third place: New York University, Brooklyn, New York Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Notre Dame Academy High School, Los Angeles, California Second place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Third place: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia Service Academy Award:
      First place: United States Air Force Academy, USAF Academy, Colorado
      Vehicle Design Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: First Baptist Church of Manchester, Manchester, Connecticut Second place: Explorer Post 1010, Rockville, Maryland Third place: Plantation High School, Plantation, Florida Payload Design Award:
      Middle/High School Level:
      First place: Young Engineers in Action, LaPalma, California Second place: Cedar Falls High School, Cedar Falls, Iowa Third place: Spring Grove Area High School, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania Student Launch is one of NASA’s nine Artemis Student Challenges, activities which connect student ingenuity with NASA’s work returning to the Moon under Artemis in preparation for human exploration of Mars.
      The competition is managed by Marshall’s Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM). Additional funding and support are provided by NASA’s OSTEM via the Next Gen STEM project, NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, Northrup Grumman, National Space Club Huntsville, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Association of Rocketry, Relativity Space, and Bastion Technologies.
      To watch the full virtual awards ceremony, please visit NASA Marshall’s YouTube channel.
      For more information about Student Launch, visit:
      https://www.nasa.gov/stem/studentlaunch/home/index.html
      For more information about other NASA challenges, please visit:
      https://stem.nasa.gov/artemis/
      Taylor Goodwin
      Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
      256.544.0034 
      taylor.goodwin@nasa.gov
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      Last Updated Jun 14, 2024 Related Terms
      Marshall Space Flight Center Explore More
      4 min read NASA Announces New System to Aid Disaster Response
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