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*** MAY 2008 ***

...Researchers from NASA's Ames Research Center will play important roles in developing three of six missions selected this week as finalists in the Small Explorer (SMEX) Program.
Ames scientists and engineers are contributing to proposals for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), studying Earthlike planets around nearby stars; the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism SMEX (GEMS), studying black holes; and the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), studying the sun.
"Ames is pleased to be involved in these innovative, inexpensive Small Explorer mission proposals that promise to open new windows of understanding into our world and universe," said Ames Director S. Pete Worden. "We're looking forward to teaming with the principal investigators to boost our proposals into selection for launch."
TESS would use a bank of six telescopes to observe the brightest 2.5 million stars, looking for more than 1,000 Earth-to-Jupiter-sized planets around them. Ames will manage the mission design, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance evaluations. The center's integration and testing and Multi-Mission Operations Center facilities will be used for final spacecraft assembly and mission control, respectively. Ames also has four members of the TESS science team...

...NASA, Intel Corp., and SGI today announced the signing of an agreement establishing intentions to collaborate on significantly increasing the space agency's supercomputer performance and capacity.
Under the terms of a Space Act Agreement, NASA will work closely with Intel and SGI to increase computational capabilities for modeling and simulation at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
"Achieving such a monumental increase in performance will help fulfill NASA's increasing need for additional computing capacity and will enable us to provide the computational performance and capacity needed for future missions," said Ames Director S. Pete Worden. "This additional computational performance is necessary to help us achieve breakthrough scientific discoveries."...

...How cool would it be to have your name on board the spacecraft that discovers the first known Earth-like planet beyond our solar system? Well, here's your chance.
NASA today announced an opportunity for anyone to submit their name to be included on a DVD and rocketed into space as part of NASA's Kepler Mission, scheduled to launch in February 2009 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
"This mission will provide our first knowledge of Earth-like planets beyond our solar system," said Kepler Mission principal investigator
William Borucki.
The Name in Space DVD will be mounted on the exterior of the spacecraft in November 2008. A video of the DVD being mounted on the spacecraft will be taken and posted on the Kepler Mission Website prior to the spacecraft being shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in December of this year. A copy of the DVD with all of the names and messages will be given to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, Washington.
"It's a way for the public to participate in our space program," explained David Koch, deputy principal investigator for the Kepler Mission. According to Koch, there's no limit to the number of names that can be submitted for inclusion on the DVD.
"We're looking for several million names," Koch said. "The only limitation is people's interest."...