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*** JULY 2008 ***

NASA AMES, JPL WIN 2007 NASA SOFTWARE OF YEAR AWARD
...Computer programs that are used to define safety margins for fiery spacecraft re-entries and help detect planets outside our solar system are co-winners of NASA's 2007 Software of the Year Award.
Software engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., developed the Data-Parallel Line Relaxation, or DPLR, which is used to analyze and predict the extreme environments human and robotic spacecraft experience during super high-speed entries into planetary atmospheres.
At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., software engineers developed the Adaptive Modified Gerchberg-Saxton Phase Retrieval program. The software uses a telescope's science camera with innovative and robust algorithms to characterize possible errors that limit its imaging performance. The software has been integrated into calibration control loops to correct those errors, and can achieve orders of magnitude improvement in sensitivity and resolution.
The DPLR simulates the intense heating, shear stresses and pressures a spacecraft endures as it travels through atmospheres to land on Earth or other planets. It is capable of creating a highly accurate, simulated entry environment that exceeds the capability of any test facility on Earth, allowing engineers to design and apply thermal protection materials suited to withstand such intense heating environments...

NASA STUDIES EARTH'S HIGH ARCTIC FOR EVIDENCE OF LIFE ON EARLY MARS
...Later this month, NASA's Spaceward Bound program will send a team of scientists and teachers to explore the permanently frozen landscape of Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian high Arctic...
...xpedition, scientists will challenge their minds in an extreme polar research environment as they map icy structures and study microbes that live in the permafrost. Scientists believe in its early history, Mars may have been home to life in places similar to Earth's icy polar regions.
Spaceward Bound was developed by the Education Division at NASA's Ames Research Center and is a key component of NASA's goal to create engaging participatory educational activities. The expedition is a partnership of NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The field activities are conducted with the support of the Canadian Polar Continental Shelf Project.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR VISITS NASA AMES RESEARCH CENTER
...Arnold Schwarzenegger visited NASA's Ames Research Center today to see first-hand how the agency is helping firefighters battle the widespread wildfires raging throughout the state.
During a brief visit this morning, Schwarzenegger reviewed firefighting data used to display visible light and fire imagery. He also saw a demonstration of the hyperwall-2, a high-resolution visualization system displaying images from the wildfires, and held a news briefing.
"The men and women of NASA are proud to be able to use their expertise to help the state fight these wildfires and it was an honor today to show the governor first-hand how NASA technology can benefit Californians," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA Ames Research Center...

NASA AMES TO CELEBRATE 'MOON WEEK' WITH SCIENCE CONFERENCE, EVENT
...Opportunities for conducting studies of the moon, on the moon and from the moon will be explored and lunar research findings discussed during a three-day Lunar Science Conference at NASA Ames Research Center...
The conference is co-sponsored by the NASA Lunar Science Institute, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, and NASA Ames Research Center. Approximately 400 scientists are expected to attend.
As part of a celebration of the 39th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, NASA Ames also is inviting noted scientists and researchers to participate in a public event on Sunday, July 20, 2008. The public event will feature panel discussions about the moon, fun and educational activities for children and families including a robotics demonstration, and films featuring footage from NASA's Apollo missions...

NASA TO CONDUCT STUDY OF LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
...NASA's Ames Research Center has signed a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement with Los Angeles World Airports to conduct a study of the north airfield at Los Angeles International Airport.
Los Angeles World Airports is funding the comprehensive study to address safety issues concerning the existing and future operation of the airports' northern runways. Ames is supporting the project by working with an academic panel of experts to identify potential design alternatives for the north airfield. NASA will develop real-time airport operation scenarios for each alternative. The academic panel will analyze the results and make design recommendations to the airport commission...

NASA COATS MAIN MIRROR FOR AIRBORNE OBSERVATORY
...The main mirror for NASA's new airborne eye on the universe is now ready for installation after being transformed from a carefully shaped and polished piece of glass into a highly reflective optical component at Ames Research Center.
After years of development and preparation, it took just 20 seconds to apply the shiny, aluminum coating to the glass mirror for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). The telescope is scheduled to begin observations in mid-2009.
"The change was quite sudden and stunning. One moment, we were looking through the transparent glass mirror into its honeycomb-shaped internal structure, and then seconds later, all we saw were reflections," said Patrick Waddell, a systems engineer with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), which manages the SOFIA science mission for NASA.
"There were quite a few technical challenges that caused us to question whether the coating quality would be this good on the first try. We're ecstatic," said Ed Austin, NASA's SOFIA project manager at Ames...