P.O. Box 1184, Greenbelt, MD 20768-1184


June 2015 31st Year of Publication


June 9 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the Greenbelt American Legion Post #136 at 6900 Greenbelt Road. Reservations are required due to our change of venue, so please contact Alberta Moran either on her cell phone at 301-910-0177 or via e-mail at no later than noon on Friday June 5th. Our speaker will be NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who we expect will provide an overview of NASA’s current status and perhaps comment about what projects might be developed or considered for development in the future.
July 14 Mark your calendar for the GRAA Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. While we have not yet received final scheduling confirmation, we are anticipating that Jeff Grambling, Project Manager for the Tracking & Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) will update us on TDRSS highlights and upcoming developments.

COMMENTS FROM RON BROWNING, GRAA PRESIDENT: Our May speaker, Dr. Jeffrey Newmark, Interim Director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, described the Earth/Sun system studies which are the focus of heliophysics missions. These studies analyze connections of various inputs and interactions within the Solar System. He showed real time data of coronal mass ejections (CME) viewed simultaneously over a three-day period by the two Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft orbiting at one astronomical unit (which roughly equates to the distance between the Earth and the Sun). The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph satellite (IRIS) observed its first CME at 120 degrees from Earth. If it had been directed at the Earth, it would have caused major damage because it was similar in magnitude to a CME in September 1859 which affected telegraph signals worldwide. Ongoing studies and observations are looking at: the three Van Allen radiation belts, one of which fills and drains periodically; Sun corona heating causes coupled with small localized nanoflares; and high energy processes of the Sun. The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission is a new mission launched in March on an Atlas-5 rocket which placed five satellites flying in formation with 25 instruments each to provide data on magnetic reconnection. The next big mission is Solar Probe Plus, which is planned to fly through the Sun’s corona in 2018. The European Space Agency and NASA are looking at a future solar orbiter to be located 30 degrees above the ecliptic (i.e., the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere). The four Heliophysics Program areas are: Solar Terrestrial Probe, Living with a Star, Explorers, and Research. Within these programs are 19 operating satellite missions.

TREASURER’S REPORT: Treasurer Jackie Gasch received tax-deductible contributions from the following: William Carpenter, Dario Galoppo, Walter Gates, Glenn Harris, Ellen Herring, Elizabeth Jay, Ronald Muller, Audrey Rhodes (in memory of Carl Rhodes), David Schaefer, John Strekel, John Sudey, Jr., Richard Weber, and Ralph Welsh.

FROM THE GODDARD ARCHIVES – IT HAPPENED IN JUNE: On June 1, 1990, a Delta-II rocket launched the Roentgen Satellite (aka: ROSAT) from Cape Canaveral, FL. ROSAT was an X-ray observatory developed through a cooperative program between the US, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Although launched by the US, the satellite was designed and operated by Germany and consisted of two coaligned scientific experiments, the X-ray telescope and the wide field camera. ROSAT discovered that almost all astronomical objects emit X-ray radiation, including some objects which were not expected. The spacecraft was turned off on February 12, 1999, and didn’t re-enter the atmosphere until October 23, 2011. Calculations developed at the time reportedly revealed that if the satellite had remained aloft for just an additional seven minutes, it would have landed on Beijing, China, instead of in the Bay of Bengal. Kind of a very scary thought!

CHANGE TO NASA’S LEADERSHIP TEAM: The April 3rd retirement of GRAA Member Richard Keegan (who formerly served as NASA’s Associate Deputy Administrator and Associate Administrator for the Mission Support Directorate for several years) prompted changes to NASA’s leadership team. Deputy Associate Administrator Lesa Roe was designated as Acting Associate Deputy Administrator and GRAA Member Krista Paquin was appointed as Associate Administrator for the Mission Support Directorate.

WALLOPS FLIGHT FACILITY (WFF) TAKES STEP TOWARD MANNED SPACE FLIGHTS : The results of an upcoming environmental impact statement may one day lead the way to landing reusable booster rockets and manned spacecraft on Wallops Island, VA. For more information, check out


THOUGHT FOR JUNE: When we were children we thought “Nap Time” was a form of severe punishment, Now, as senior citizens, we are fully aware it is really more like a short vacation that the passage of time has somehow turned into a daily necessity!