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*** OCTOBER 2008 ***

...Engineers and technicians from NASA, the German Space Agency and the Deutsches SOFIA Institut recently reinstalled the German-built primary mirror assembly into NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).
Technicians removed the glass mirror from the modified Boeing 747SP airborne observatory in April 2008 and transported to NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., where it received its reflective aluminum coating in a vacuum chamber in June 2008. The coating, five one-millionths of an inch thick, will be reapplied as necessary during the 20-year life of the program.
"We had completed system tests of our mirror coater but this is the first time we've actually coated SOFIA's mirror. The team and equipment performed flawlessly and the results are magnificent," said Ed Austin, SOFIA science project manager at NASA Ames.
The mirror assembly was transported back to NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, Calif., in mid-September and reinstalled Oct. 8, 2008.
"The reinstallation of the mirror is a significant program milestone on the path to science observations with the SOFIA observatory in the summer of 2009," said Bob Meyer, SOFIA program manager at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif...

...NASA has awarded five-year grants, averaging $7 million each, to 10 research teams from across the country to study the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.
The interdisciplinary teams will become new members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, located at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Teams from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu; Arizona State University in Tempe; the Carnegie Institution of Washington; Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa.; the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta; and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., have been selected as members.
Teams from Ames, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and two teams led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., also have been selected. "The research of these new teams reflects the increasing maturity of astrobiology," said NASA Astrobiology Institute Director Carl Pilcher of Ames. "They are focused on fundamental questions of life in the universe, but their work has implications for all of science. The research of these teams, together with that of the four continuing institute teams, will bridge the basic science of astrobiology to NASA's current and planned space exploration missions."...