2020 Goddard Summer Film Fest

The Goddard Office of Communications hosts a virtual showcase of their latest productions at the eleventh annual Goddard Film Festival, highlighting the center’s achievements over the past year in astrophysics, Earth science, heliophysics and planetary science. The videos showcases recent and upcoming missions and events such as the James Webb Space Telescope, Operation IceBridge, Landsat, TESS, MAVEN, Hubble and much more. The festival also features bonus behind-the-scenes videos from the producers, animators and data visualizers.

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Festival Playlist

Videos included in the 2020 Film Festival appear in order.
  • NASA’s Operation IceBridge Completes Eleven Years of Polar Surveys
    For eleven years from 2009 to 2019, the planes of NASA’s Operation IceBridge flew above the Arctic, Antarctic and Alaska, gathering data on the height, depth, thickness, flow and change of sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets. Designed to collect data during the years between NASA’s two Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellites, ICESat and ICESat-2, IceBridge made its final polar flight in November 2019, one year after ICESat-2’s successful launch. The fleet of aircraft carried more than a dozen instruments, from elevation-mapping lasers and ice-penetrating radars to optical and infrared cameras. And the mission did much more than bridge the altimetry gap – it enabled many other discoveries, too, from diminishing snow cover over Arctic sea ice to impact craters hidden beneath Greenland’s ice. As the team and planes move on to their next assignments, the scientists and engineers reflected on a decade of IceBridge’s most significant accomplishments.
  • Meet The Goddard Instrument Field Team
    NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has led and supported planetary analog field science campaigns for the last decade focused on addressing fundamental research and testing new instrument technologies. This video gives an overview of the Goddard Instrument Field Team, and includes footage of the unique locations they travel to and equipment they use. The capabilities developed within GIFT provide a unique resource to NASA and the external science community.
  • The James Webb Space Telescope is now an Assembled Observatory
    Engineers from NASA and Northrop Grumman have successfully integrated the James Webb Space Telescope's optical telescope element and spacecraft element together at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, CA. Thus completing the construction of the most complex and powerful telescope ever built. Webb will explore the cosmos using infrared light from planets and moons within our solar system to the earliest and most distant galaxies. Next up for Webb; Deploying the five-layer sunshield designed to keep Webb's mirror and scientific instruments super cold.
  • Apollo 13 Views of the Moon in 4K
    Data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft now makes it possible to show what the Apollo 13 astronauts saw as they flew around the far side of the Moon. This video showcases visualizations in 4K resolution of many of those lunar surface views, starting with earthset and sunrise, and concluding with the time Apollo 13 reestablished radio contact with Mission Control. Also depicted is the path of the free return trajectory around the Moon, and a continuous view of the Moon throughout that path. All views have been sped up for timing purposes - they are not shown in "real-time." For more information, or to obtain the original individual assets that comprise this video, please visit: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4791
  • Apollo 13 Views of the Moon with Commentary
    Apollo 13 Views of the Moon in 4K with Visualizer Commentary
  • Landsat Croplands Data Overview
    Since 2009, the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, has drawn on Landsat data to monitor dozens of crops in the lower 48 states as part of NASS's Cropland Data Layer program. The Cropland Data layer uses Landsat and similar sensors to identify what crop is growing where in the country. Separately, NASS uses NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments aboard the Aqua and Terra satellites to monitor daily vegetation health and growth stage, all indicators of crop yield. “Landsat has been one of the only ways we can directly measure the global food supply,” said Brad Doorn, program manager for NASA's Applied Sciences Water Resources and Agriculture Research at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. However, “It's not all satellites,” Mueller said. During a typical farming year, NASS relies heavily on their ground observations and surveys data. Across the country, NASS field officials visit farms, and measure acreage and condition of planted fields throughout the growing season. NASS also receives crop acreage data from the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Farmers are required to self-report crop acreage and land use information to FSA annually. FSA uses the data to determine payment for federal programs such as crop loss due to natural disaster or financial loss from changes in market prices. NASS will publish the final Cropland Data layer in January of the following year and makes the data available to everyone through the CropScape website. Disaster managers use the sites historic data to evaluate crop damage from this year's floods and other natural disasters. Resource managers use historic data to direct crop rotation, study land-use change, and monitor water use.
  • First Map of Mars Electric Currents
    Five years after NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft entered into orbit around Mars, data from the mission has led to the creation of a map of electric current systems in the Martian atmosphere. Unlike Earth, Mars lacks a protective global magnetic field to shield its upper atmosphere from the solar wind. Instead, the solar wind crashes into the upper atmosphere and its magnetic field lines drape around the planet. This creates an induced magnetosphere that tugs on charged particles in the Mars upper atmosphere, generating electric currents. Now, MAVEN’s detailed measurements of the magnetic environment surrounding Mars have revealed the shape of these electric currents for the first time.

    Read the science paper in Nature Astronomy.

  • How to Animate the Universe
    How to Animate the Universe
  • MAVEN Explores Mars to Understand Radio Interference at Earth
    NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) spacecraft has discovered “layers” and “rifts” in the electrically charged part of the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere) of Mars. The phenomenon is very common at Earth and causes unpredictable disruptions to radio communications. However, we do not fully understand them because they form at altitudes that are very difficult to explore at Earth. The unexpected discovery by MAVEN shows that Mars is a unique laboratory to explore and better understand this highly disruptive phenomenon. See more here: NASA's MAVEN Explores Mars to Understand Radio Interference at Earth Download individual animations from https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/20313
  • NASA's Five Newest Earth Expeditions Ready for Takeoff
    NASA is sending five airborne campaigns across the United States in 2020 to investigate fundamental processes that ultimately impact human lives and the environment, from snowstorms along the East Coast to ocean eddies off the coast of San Francisco.
  • NASA Models the Complex Chemistry of Earth's Atmosphere
    Air pollution can appear as a gray or orange haze enveloping a city. What the naked eye can’t see are the hundreds of chemical reactions taking place to produce that pollution. NASA science can reveal a more complete picture of atmospheric chemistry. A NASA visualization shows 96 chemical species that help form one common air pollutant — surface ozone. While ozone in the stratosphere is critical to maintaining life on earth, surface ozone is a toxic gas to most plant and animal species. This visualization uses the GEOS Composition Forecasting (GEOS-CF) computer model, which incorporates 240 chemical species and how they interact with each other and the weather through over 700 chemical reactions. All of these chemical reactions directly or indirectly impact the formation of ozone. Capturing such complexity requires satellites, the GEOS-CF model, and a supercomputer all working in concert. As the visualization progresses, it cycles through chemicals loosely grouped into seven ‘families’ based on their physical and chemical properties: • Ox • Extended HOx family • Hydrocarbons • Isoprene oxidation • Aerosols • Halogens • Extended NOx family More information on each family can be found on the visualization webpage. The dynamic behavior of some of these chemical species can indicate certain events in the atmosphere. The model covers the time period from July 22, 2018 to October 2, 2018, which includes several notable atmospheric events. Both the Carr Fire and the Mendocino Complex Fire, occurring in late July 2018, released a large amount of hydrocarbons and extended HOx, which can be seen in the model. The latter-occurring Hurricane Florence is also visible, as indicated by the impacted halogens in this atmospheric model. Satellites observe chemical species in the atmosphere, both those emitted from natural and human sources and those formed from other pollutants. Yet, even several hundred thousand observations a day leave data gaps. Merging satellite data with NASA’s GEOS-CF model yields not only a snapshot of chemistry throughout the atmosphere at any given time but also the ability to predict air quality worldwide. This model makes a 5-day forecast daily using the NASA Center for Climate Simulation’s Discover supercomputer. Developed jointly with several government and non-profit partners, these forecasts offer a new tool for academic researchers, government scientists, air quality managers, and the general public. Potential applications include flight campaign planning, support of satellite observations, and mitigation of air pollution.
  • Why NASA is sending rockets into Earth’s leaky atmosphere
    In the tiny Arctic town of Ny-Ålesund, where polar bears outnumber people, winter means three months without sunlight. The unending darkness is ideal for those who seek a strange breed of northern lights, normally obscured by daylight. When these unusual auroras shine, Earth’s atmosphere leaks into space. NASA scientists traveled to Ny-Ålesund to launch rockets through these auroras and witness oxygen particles right in the middle of their escape. Piercing these fleeting auroras, some 300 miles high, would require strategy, patience — and a fair bit of luck. This was NASA’s VISIONS-2 mission, and this is their story. VISIONS-2 was just the first of many. Over the coming months, rocket teams from all over the world will launch rockets into this region as part of the Grand Challenge Initiative—Cusp, an international collaboration to study the mysteries of the polar atmosphere.
  • Behind the Scenes of "Launching Rockets Through the Leak in Earth's Atmosphere"
    Behind the Scenes of "Launching Rockets Through the Leak in Earth's Atmosphere"
  • Counting Comets
    The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a joint mission between the European Space Agency and NASA, was not designed to find comets — its original goal was to study the Sun from its deep core to the outer layers of its atmosphere. But nearly 25 years since its launch, data from this space-based solar observatory has led to the discovery of well over half of all known comets — upwards of 3,950 new comets found. The huge number of SOHO-discovered comets comes thanks to a combination of well-designed instruments, a long lifespan, the hard work of citizen scientists and a little bit of luck.
  • Rift Valley Fever Visualization with Commentary
    ENSO Teleconnections with Rift Valley Fever Visualization with Visualizer Commentary
  • Snow Scientists Dig Deep in Grand Mesa
    NASA’s SnowEx ground and airborne campaign is a multiyear effort using a variety of techniques to study snow characteristics, and the team concluded their second year in March 2020. Not only is SnowEx learning valuable information about how snow properties change by terrain and season, but they are also testing the tools NASA will need to sample snow from space.
  • Asteroid Bennu: Selecting Site Nightingale
    OSIRIS-REx is a NASA mission to explore near-Earth asteroid Bennu and return a sample to Earth. Prior to arriving at Bennu, mission planners had expected the asteroid’s surface to consist largely of fine particulate material, similar to gravel. When OSIRIS-REx arrived in December 2018, however, it was greeted by a rocky world covered with boulders. This unexpected ruggedness means that there are few places on Bennu where OSIRIS-REx can safely touch down and collect a sample. After a year of studying the asteroid, the mission announced a primary sample collection site, which they designated “Nightingale,” along with a backup site called “Osprey.” In October 2020, OSIRIS-REx will descend to Bennu and attempt to collect up to four-and-a-half pounds of loose material, for return to Earth in 2023. Learn more about the selection of sample site Nightingale. In the thermal map above, asteroid Bennu’s surface temperatures dramatically change from the night side to the day side, experiencing swings of 270 degrees Fahrenheit. The time that it takes for an object to heat up or cool down is determined by its thermal inertia — a property that can be useful in the remote study of planetary bodies. Fine particulate materials like sand or gravel tend to heat up and cool down quickly (low thermal inertia), while solid objects like rocks and boulders do so more slowly (high thermal inertia). By observing how a distant body like Bennu changes temperature over the course of a day, scientists can usually infer the average size of particles on its surface. Before OSIRIS-REx arrived, scientists had observed that Bennu’s surface heats up and cools down relatively quickly, leading them to predict a mean particle size of about 2-3cm. OSIRIS-REx, however, was greeted by a predominantly rocky asteroid, littered with giant boulders. This discrepancy is one of the major surprises of the OSIRIS-REx mission.
  • NASA Surveys Hurricane Damage to Puerto Rico's Forests (Data Viz Version)
    In September 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico head-on as a Category 4 storm with winds topping 155 miles per hour. The storm damaged homes, flooded towns, devastated the island's forests and caused the longest electricity black-out in U.S. history. Hurricane Maria's lashing rain and winds transformed Puerto Rico's lush tropical rainforest landscape. Research scientist Doug Morton of Goddard was part of the team of NASA researchers who had surveyed Puerto Rico's forests six months before the storm with Goddard’s Lidar, Hyperspectral, and Thermal (G-LiHT) Airborne Imager, a system designed to study the structure and species composition of Puerto Rican forests. Shooting 600,000 laser pulses per second, G-LiHT produces a 3D view of the forest structure in high resolution. In April 2018, post-Maria, they went back and surveyed the same tracks as in 2017. Comparing the before and after data, the team found that 40 to 60 percent of the tall trees that formed the canopy of the forest either lost large branches, were snapped in half or were uprooted by strong winds. "Maria gave the island's forests a haircut," said Morton. "The island lost so many large trees that forests were shortened by one-third. We basically saw 60 years' worth of what we would consider natural treefall disturbances happen in one day." This version was shown at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) / Special Interest Group on GRAPHics (SIGGRAPH) Computer Animation Festival (CAF) on July 29, 2019 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, CA. It will then be part of the ACM/SIGGRAPH CAF traveling show after that.
  • Why Observe: Land Cover
    Nearly every aspect of our lives is fundamentally tied to the land on which we live. The homes that shelter us are resting on the land. Cities offer locations that bring people together; farms feed us; forests help to keep us cool, provide us with oxygen, building materials, and the joys of recreation; rivers and lakes yield fresh water to drink; and different kinds of land cover provide habitats for a diversity of wildlife. When land covers change, our health and well-being, economies, and environments are all affected. Citizens using GLOBE Observer can observe land cover in much greater detail and more frequently than scientists can using satellite data alone. Furthermore, some types of land cover such as crops or some kinds of urban areas can be difficult to define based on satellite data alone, and citizen scientists’ observations can help. GLOBE Observer data isn't just for scientists. Everyone can have access to this data to understand land cover change. Furthermore, since GLOBE Observer is a global community with ties in education, citizens who make observations help to strengthen education in Earth science around the world. But why do scientists use land cover observations from satellites, and why do they need help from citizen scientists? And what do they hope to use the data for? Find out the answer to these questions in Why Observe? Land Cover and learn what is land cover and about the questions scientists need help answering. Interested in learning how to become a GLOBE Observer and to take land cover observations? Watch the GLOBE Observer Land Cover: Getting Started video to find out more. Learn more about GLOBE Observer app and what other observations you can take at GLOBE Observer website.
  • NASA's Guide To Black Hole Safety
    Have you ever thought about visiting a black hole? We sure hope not. However, if you're absolutely convinced that a black hole is your ideal vacation spot, watch this video before you blast off to learn more about them and (more importantly) how to stay safe. You can also download a handy safety brochure, watch short clips to learn different things about black holes, and even get some short glimpses into the lives of black holes and the explorers that want to visit them.
  • Eyes in the Sky
    The powerful hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900, killing an estimated 8,000 people and destroying more than 3,600 buildings, took the coastal city by surprise.

    This video looks at advances in hurricane forecasting in the 60 years since, with a focus on the contributions from weather satellites. This technology has allowed us to track hurricanes – their location, movement and intensity.

    “One of the dramatic impacts is that satellite data keeps an eye on the target, especially over unpopulated areas such as oceans” said JPSS Director Greg Mandt. “We’re sort of like your eyes in the sky to make sure that Mother Nature can never surprise you.”

    A fleet of Earth-observing satellites, including those from the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series (GOES-R), provides remarkable advances in hurricane forecasting. The JPSS polar-orbiting satellites measure the state of the atmosphere by taking precise measurements of sea surface temperatures and atmospheric temperature and moisture, which are critical to securing storm forecasts several days in advance.

    Improved sensors also give us a better understanding of the core of hurricanes and allow forecasters to predict where they’re going to hit, without over-warning, Mandt said. “Then you can narrow and shrink that cone of uncertainty and give a better prediction.”

    The GOES satellites orbit at the same rate the Earth spins, allowing us to see hurricanes in motion.

    “We take a full-disc picture of the entire hemisphere in five minutes,” said GOES-R Series System Program Director Pam Sullivan. “But we can also look at a smaller area, and scan it every 30 seconds. You get to see the hurricane eye wall forming, you can see it actually forming in real time. The Earth looks alive. It looks like a living thing.”

  • TESS Mission’s First Earth-size World in Star’s Habitable-zone
    NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered its first Earth-size planet in its star’s habitable zone, the range of distances where conditions may be just right to allow the presence of liquid water on the surface. Scientists confirmed the find, called TOI 700 d, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and have modeled the planet’s potential environments to help inform future observations. TOI 700 is a small, cool M dwarf star located just over 100 light-years away in the southern constellation Dorado. It’s roughly 40% of the Sun’s mass and size and about half its surface temperature. The star appears in 11 of the 13 sectors TESS observed during the mission’s first year, and scientists caught multiple transits by its three planets. The innermost planet, called TOI 700 b, is almost exactly Earth-size, is probably rocky and completes an orbit every 10 days. The middle planet, TOI 700 c, is 2.6 times larger than Earth — between the sizes of Earth and Neptune — orbits every 16 days and is likely a gas-dominated world. TOI 700 d, the outermost known planet in the system and the only one in the habitable zone, measures 20% larger than Earth, orbits every 37 days and receives from its star 86% of the energy that the Sun provides to Earth. All of the planets are thought to be tidally locked to their star, which means they rotate once per orbit so that one side is constantly bathed in daylight. The Spitzer data increased scientists’ confidence that TOI 700 d is a real planet and sharpened their measurements of its orbital period by 56% and its size by 38%. It also ruled out other possible astrophysical causes of the transit signal, such as the presence of a smaller, dimmer companion star in the system. While the exact conditions on TOI 700 d are unknown, scientists used current information, like the planet’s size and the type of star it orbits, and modeled 20 potential environments for TOI 700 d to gauge if any version would result in surface temperatures and pressures suitable for habitability. One simulation included an ocean-covered TOI 700 d with a dense, carbon-dioxide-dominated atmosphere similar to what scientists suspect surrounded Mars when it was young. The model atmosphere contains a deep layer of clouds on the star-facing side. Another model depicts TOI 700 d as a cloudless, all-land version of modern Earth, where winds flow away from the night side of the planet and converge on the point directly facing the star.
  • Behind the Scences of the NASA Explorers with Commentary
    Behind the Scences of the NASA Explorers Digital Series with Producer Commentary
  • Bird's-eye View of Biodiversity with Landsat
    Global temperatures are rising, putting bird species across America in danger of extinction as their habitats change. To understand how temperature affects birds across the country, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison compared data from the thermal sensor on Landsat 8, TIRS, to bird biodiversity across the country. Turns out, having a habitat with pockets of different temperatures – like a grove of trees in an open field, or a nest or snow burrow – is especially important for small-bodied bird species and those threatened by climate change. This bird’s-eye view of the relationship between temperature and bird biodiversity will help conservationists figure out where to prioritize their efforts in a warming world.
  • The Webb Telescope's Unfolding Secondary Mirror
    In order to do groundbreaking science, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope must first unpack itself in deep space. In its full configuration, Webb would be too big too fit in any available rocket. So, engineers designed the observatory to fold up to a much smaller size during transport. After Webb Launches, the observatory's delicate parts will unfold and arrange themselves through a series of carefully choreographed steps. When deployed, the secondary mirror will sit out in front of Webb's 18 primary mirrors, collect their light and focus it into a beam. That beam is then sent down into the tertiary and fine steering mirrors, and finally to Webb's four scientific instruments. This video shows the flurry of engineers and technicians examining the hinges and movement of the secondary mirror as it deploys. This is one of a final series of tests the Webb Telescope must perform to prove that it is ready to operate in space.
  • How Hubble’s Servicing Mission 3A Saved the Day
    After Hubble’s important gyroscopes began to fail, a Hubble emergency was declared and Servicing Mission 3 was quickly split into two separate launches. So on December 19, 1999, the brave crew of Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off to switch out the broken gyros and get Hubble working again. The mission was an incredible success, and thanks to everyone involved with SM3A, the Hubble Space Telescope was able to do science once again and open the world to the mysteries of the universe. To celebrate SM3A’s 20 year anniversary, this video gives a quick and in-depth review on the accomplishments of this historic mission. The tools and the knowledge gleaned from SM3A are used today by astronauts on the International Space Station, and will be critical to NASA's future crewed missions to the Moon and Mars. For more information, visit: https://nasa.gov/hubble Music Credits: -”Run to the Hills” by Magnum Opus [ ASCAP ], Atmosphere Music Ltd. [ PRS], Universal Production Music -“Crystalised Fortune” by Paul Leonard Morgan [ PRS ], Universal Production Music -“History in Motion” by Fred Dubois [ SACEM ], Koka Media [ SACEM ], Universal Production Music