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*** AUGUST 2007 ***

MOFFET FIELD, Calif. - A new NASA Internet feature story explains how the public can take digital or camcorder pictures of the rare Aurigid meteors as they streak into Earth's atmosphere in the early morning hours...
A team of NASA and other scientists will observe the extremely rare Aurigid meteor shower and hopes members of the public will contribute images and data to researchers. According to astronomers, the Aurigids will not be seen again in our lifetimes.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - The West Coast of the United States has suffered extreme heat and drought this summer, leading to greater danger of wildfires. NASA and the U.S. Forest Service are testing aerospace agency-developed technologies to improve wildfire imaging and mapping capabilities.
From mid-August through September, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., is conducting flights of a remotely-piloted, unmanned aircraft system to demonstrate the capabilities of its sophisticated new imaging and real-time communications equipment. The first flight of the series Aug. 16 captured images of California wildfires, including the Zaca Fire in Santa Barbara County. The aircraft carried instruments that collected data while flying more than 1,200 miles during a 10-hour period.
"These tests are a ground-breaking effort to expand the use of unmanned aircraft systems in providing real-time images in an actual fire event," said Vincent Ambrosia, principal investigator of the Western States Fire Mission at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "This is a prime example of NASA science and technology being used to solve real-world problems."

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA has added a new computer program to help monitor the four gyroscopes that keep the International Space Station properly oriented without the use of rocket fuel. During a spacewalk on Monday, two astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour removed and replaced a gyroscope that failed in late 2006.
Computer scientists at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., designed the new software for the space station. The Inductive Monitoring System will be added to a group of existing tools to identify and track problems related to the gyroscopes.
"If the system does something unexpected, the software alerts ground controllers that something is different, an anomaly, and that allows them to analyze the situation and take preventive measures as necessary," said David Iverson, the computer scientist at Ames who spearheaded the five year-effort to develop the software.
During its development, researchers used the software to analyze several months of normal space station gyroscope data collected by the International Space Station Mission Control Center at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston. In these tests, problems with the gyroscopes were noticed long before the previous system flagged glitches. NASA started using the software earlier this year...

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA Astronaut and teacher Barbara R. Morgan, along with crew members Alvin Drew, Dave Williams and Clay Anderson, will make a special telephone call to Idaho students from the International Space Station, more than 200 miles above the Earth...
The event will be carried live on NASA Television. Students from throughout Idaho will gather at the Discovery Science Center in Boise for the first conversation with Morgan from space. During the 20-minute downlink, Morgan will take questions from students participating in the event.
"This is a unique opportunity for an educator from Idaho to inspire and energize students through NASA's innovative technologies," said Joyce Winterton, NASA assistant administrator for education. "This marks a milestone for students and educators in Idaho and around the world."
The downlink from the space station is part of Idaho's celebration of Morgan's continuing journey that has taken her from the classrooms at McCall-Donnelly Elementary School in McCall, Idaho, to her newclassroom in space.
"Over 40 students, ranging from fourth to eighth grades, were nominated by their science teachers throughout Idaho," said Janine Boire, executive director at the Discovery Center of Idaho. "For the 18 students selected, this will be an occasion they will remember for a lifetime."
After reviewing the nominations, the Idaho Science Teachers Association made the final selection of students. The selected students represent the entire state, from very small towns to the largest metropolitan area in Idaho...

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- When space shuttle Endeavour rocketed into space yesterday, it took along a common microorganism normally found in the upper respiratory tract of approximately 40 percent of the healthy human population.
The experiment, Streptococcus pneumoniae Expression of Genes in Space (SPEGIS), part of the STS-118 space shuttle mission launched Aug. 8, 2007, will investigate the effects of the space environment on the common microorganism Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae). Scientists believe that sending this bacterium into space may lead to a better understanding of S. pneumoniae, an opportunistic human pathogen, which causes infections in individuals with reduced immune function. This bacterial pathogen is the most common cause of pneumonia, middle ear infections and bacterial meningitis.
"The opportunity to investigate and understand the effects of spaceflight on the pathogenic potential of S. pneumoniae may further the design and development of new drugs that can be used for treatment of diseases on Earth," said Hami Teal, the experiment's project scientist and a researcher at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Vials containing bacterial cultures were loaded aboard space shuttle Endeavor in SPEGIS Canister Assemblies developed by NASA. The hardware consists of three canisters, each containing three sealed polypropylene vials inserted into aluminum jackets to improve contact and enhance thermal transfer. The SPEGIS experiment only requires transfer of the canisters from refrigeration to incubation and then to a freezer to preserve the sample. The SPEGIS experiment will be returned to Earth for analysis by scientists. Since the SPEGIS Canisters are triple-contained and never opened, the crew is never in direct contact with the bacterial cultures.