Speaking of moons, NASA announced that Richard Gilbrech will be the new associate administrator of the exploration systems mission directorate, the NASA section in charge of the return to the Moon. NASA also awarded 1.8 billion bucks to Alliant Techsystems to build and test 11 of the ARES I and V first stage sections. That's the rocket that NASA wants to replace the Shuttle.
Speaking of the Shuttle, NASA is pondering what to do about the 3-inch gouge in a tile on the Shuttle's belly; replace it in-flight (hard, time-consuming, never been done before) or leave it be and, essentially, hope for the best.
The use of the OBSS [Orbiter Boom Sensor System] on the end of the shuttle's robotic arm allowed the gathering of data that gave the MMT [Mission management Team] a better insight into the depth of the impact - caused by a liberated piece of foam from th [sic] 17 inch LOX feedline, that bounced off the External Tank's strut and hit the orbiter during ascent. [Note from Phil: this was originally reported as being due to a piece of ice, not foam.]
Five different targets were looked at in the region of the damage, with the OBSS creating a 3D map for NASA to evaluate on the ground. That data will be placed into a computational model, that can accurately predict thermal boundary levels for the areas of damage during re-entry, thus aiding the decision on whether a repair needs to be carried out.
All other areas have been cleared as no concern, with further evaluations on the main area - the actual impact point of the foam at T+58 seconds during ascent ...
'We've looked at the early Focused Inspection data, and as we thought, it might be a fairly deep gouge,' added Shannon. 'The tile is 1.2 inches thick and the gouge goes pretty much through the entire thickness of the tile. (We can also see a) small area of the filler bar - which is about 0.2 inches thick.
That site has lots of good info, so go back there to get updates. I'll post what I hear as well.