2021 Goddard Summer Film Fest

This year’s 12th Annual Goddard Film Festival will highlight Goddard’s achievements over the past year in astrophysics, Earth science, heliophysics and planetary science. Highlights include recent and upcoming missions such as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, OSIRIS-REx, Landsat, PACE, IBEX, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Hubble Space Telescope and much more.

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Festival Playlist

  • Lucy's Journey: Episode 1
    Episode 1: Launch. Meet Lucy as she prepares for the first ever journey to the Trojan asteroids, a population of primitive small bodies orbiting in tandem with Jupiter.
  • Moonscapes
    Dr. Noah Petro, the Project Scientist of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, takes viewers on tour of several interesting sights on lunar surface, revealing both the scientific value and visual beauty of the terrain. This video is being featured as part of the National Philharmonic’s 2021 Chamber Series event, “Music That Travels Through Space.” The event's broadcast can be found here: NationalPhilharmonic
  • 11 Years Charting The Edge of The Solar System
    Far, far beyond the orbits of the planets lie the hazy outlines of the magnetic bubble in space that we call home. This is the heliosphere, the vast bubble that is generated by the Sun’s magnetic field and envelops all the planets. The borders of this cosmic bubble are not fixed. In response to the Sun’s gasps and sighs, they shrink and stretch over the years. Now, for the first time, scientists have used an entire solar cycle of data from NASA’s IBEX spacecraft to study how the heliosphere changes over time. Solar cycles last roughly 11 years, as the Sun swings from seasons of high to low activity, and back to high again. With IBEX’s long record, scientists were eager to examine how the Sun’s mood swings play out at the edge of the heliosphere. The results show the shifting outer heliosphere in great detail, deftly sketch the heliosphere’s shape — a matter of debate in recent years, and hint at processes behind one of its most puzzling features. These findings, along with a newly fine-tuned data set, are published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplements on June 10, 2020.
  • Imagining A Roman Space Telescope Ultra Deep Field Image
    One of the Hubble Space Telescope’s most iconic images is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, which unveiled myriad galaxies across the universe, stretching back to within a few hundred million years of the Big Bang. Hubble peered at a single patch of seemingly empty sky for hundreds of hours beginning in September 2003, and astronomers unveiled this galaxy tapestry in 2004 with more observations in subsequent years. NASA’s upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will be able to photograph an area of the sky at least 100 times larger than Hubble with the same crisp sharpness. Among the many observations that will be enabled by this wide view on the cosmos, astronomers are considering the possibility and scientific potential of a Roman Space Telescope “ultra-deep field.” Such an observation could reveal new insights into subjects ranging from star formation during the universe’s youth to the way galaxies cluster together in space. Roman will enable new science in all areas of astrophysics, from the solar system to the edge of the observable universe. Much of Roman’s observing time will be dedicated to surveys over wide swaths of the sky. However, some observing time will also be available for the general astronomical community to request other projects. A Roman ultra deep field could greatly benefit the scientific community, say astronomers. As an example, a Roman ultra-deep field could be similar to the Hubble Ultra Deep Field – looking in a single direction for a few hundred hours to build up an extremely detailed image of very faint, distant objects. Yet while Hubble snagged thousands of galaxies this way, Roman would collect millions. As a result, it would enable new science and vastly improve our understanding of the universe. One of the greatest challenges of the Roman mission will be learning how to analyze the abundance of scientific information in the public datasets that it will produce. In a sense, Roman will create new opportunities not only in terms of sky coverage, but also in data mining. A Roman ultra-deep field would contain information on millions of galaxies – far too many to be studied by researchers one at a time. Machine learning—a form of artificial intelligence—will be needed to process the massive database. While this is a challenge, it also offers an opportunity.
  • Landsat Helps Warn of Algae in Lakes and Rivers
    From space, satellites such as the NASA and USGS Landsat 8 can help scientists identify where an algal bloom has formed in lakes or rivers. It’s a complicated data analysis process, but one that researchers are automating so resource managers around the country can use the satellite data to identify potential problems. Nima Pahlevan and his team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center have developed an algorithm to take the data collected by Landsat 8 over water, analyze it, and create a product for distribution. There are multiple, computationally intensive steps to get from the raw data to the usable product. This free-to-use data product makes it easier for more people to work with quality Landsat data. The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Landsat satellites have been consistently gathering data about our planet since 1972. They continue to improve and expand this unparalleled record of Earth's changing landscapes for the benefit of all.
  • Distant Planet May Be On Its Second Atmosphere, NASA’s Hubble Finds
    Scientists using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have found evidence that a planet orbiting a distant star that may have lost its atmosphere but gained a second one through volcanic activity. The planet, GJ 1132 b, is hypothesized to have begun as a gaseous world with a thick hydrogen blanket of atmosphere. Starting out at several times the diameter of Earth, this so-called “sub-Neptune” is believed to have quickly lost its primordial hydrogen and helium atmosphere due to the intense radiation of the hot, young star it orbits. In a short period of time, such a planet would be stripped down to a bare core about the size of Earth. That’s when things got interesting. For more information, visit https://nasa.gov/hubble. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Paul Morris: Lead Producer Additional Visualizations: Artist’s impression of Exoplanet GJ 1132 b: Robert Hurt Atmosphere escaping an exoplanet (artist’s impression): NASA, ESA, M. Kornmesser Artist’s impression of WASP-107b: ESA/Hubble, NASA, M. Kornmesser Video animation of of Exoplanet GJ 1132 b: Robert Hurt Aerial of oozing red lava in Hawaii: Artbeats Aerial from Puu Oo volcanic vents on Hawaii's Kilauea: Artbeats Exovolcano Animation Background Only: Michael Lentz Illustration depicting one interpretation of planet GJ 357 c: Chris Smith Music Credits: "Planetary Exploration" by Richard Andrew Canavan [PRS] via Sound Pocket Music [PRS], and Universal Production Music.
  • Plants Are Struggling to Keep Up with Rising Carbon Dioxide Concentrations
    Plants play a key role in mitigating climate change. The more carbon dioxide they absorb during photosynthesis, the less carbon dioxide remains trapped in the atmosphere where it can cause temperatures to rise. But scientists have identified an unsettling trend – 86% of land ecosystems globally are becoming progressively less efficient at absorbing the increasing levels of CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • How To Track The Sun's Cycle
    A new solar cycle comes roughly every 11 years. Over the course of each cycle, the Sun transitions from relatively calm to active and stormy, and then quiet again; at its peak, the Sun’s magnetic poles flip. Now that the star has passed solar minimum, scientists expect the Sun will grow increasingly active in the months and years to come.

    Understanding the Sun’s behavior is an important part of life in our solar system. The Sun’s outbursts—including eruptions known as solar flares and coronal mass ejections—can disturb the satellites and communications signals traveling around Earth, or one day, Artemis astronauts exploring distant worlds. Scientists study the solar cycle so we can better predict solar activity. As of 2020, the Sun has begun to shake off the sleep of minimum, which occurred in December 2019, and Solar Cycle 25 is underway. Scientists use several indicators to track solar cycle progress.

  • Field Study Sheds New Light on Melt Zone
    Five years after a NASA-funded field study returned to to set up camp once again in the melt zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet, a new study adds to the rich findings from this innovative project. We look back on this bold undertaking, which featured helicopters, floating drifters plunging into holes in the ice, and all-night shifts operating a sonic boogie board under endless daylight. Scientist Larry Smith, at the time with UCLA and now with Brown University, takes us back to the challenges on the ice and the important findings made with the hard-won data.
  • 25 Years of Sun from ESA/NASA's SOHO

    December 2, 1995 marks the 25th anniversary of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO — a joint mission of the European Space Agency and NASA. Since its launch on that date, the mission has kept watch on the Sun.

  • NASA's Field Guide to Black Holes
    Thinking about doing some black hole watching the next time you’re on an intergalactic vacation, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Well, look no further! This series of videos shows you everything you need to know. With topics ranging from basic black holes, to fancy black holes, to giant black holes and their companions, you’ll be more than ready for your next adventure. In addition to the videos, you can also download a printable guide that has even more information. Note: While these videos can be shared in their entirety without permission, their music has been licensed and may not be excised or remixed in other products.
  • The key to understanding solar explosions
    An unusual eruption on the Sun may offer clues to understanding our star’s mysterious explosions. The new research studied an event named the “Rosetta Stone'' of solar eruptions. Just as the Rosetta Stone was the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics, studying this eruption could be the key to understanding all types of solar eruptions.
  • SPEXone: Dutch Instrument Arrives for PACE Mission
    Aerosols are small solid or liquid particles suspended in the air that affect climate change directly throuhg interaction with solar radiation. Aerosols affect climate indirectly by changing the micro-and macro- physical properties of clouds. Scientists who study climate change rely on detailed data to properly characterize the the amount of radiative forcing that aerosols cause. SPEXone is a new instrument designed to pursue that data with superb accuracy. It's a polarimeter, intended to measure the intensity, Degree of Linear Polarization (DoLP) and Angle of Linear Polarization (AoLP) of sunlight reflected back from Earth's atmosphere, land surface, and ocean. Built by engineers at The Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON) and Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands (Airbus DS NL), SPEXone will fly on the PACE spacecraft as one of that mission's suite of sensors.
  • Landsat 9: Continuing the Legacy series
    Five decades ago, NASA and the US Geological Society launched a satellite to monitor Earth’s land from space. It was the beginning of a legacy. The Apollo era had given us our first looks at Earth from space and inspired the idea of regularly collecting images of our planet. The first Landsat — originally known as the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, or ERTS — rocketed into space in 1972. Since then, there have been eight Landsats and we’re preparing to launch number nine. The Landsat legacy stretches far and wide. Using visible and infrared light, Landsat helps track the health of crops, shows ocean pollution, and tracks coral reefs, icebergs and more. Thanks to sensor that can record wavelengths beyond what we can see with our eyes, Landsat can record vital information about Earth's surface. Narrated by the actor Marc Evan Jackson, who played a Landsat scientist in the movie Kong: Skull Island (2017), this series of videos tells the story of Landsat 9. From the birth of the Landsat program to the present preparations for launching Landsat 9 and even a look to the future with Landsat NeXt. The early Landsat satellites carried a sensor that could “see” in visible light — like humans — plus a little bit of near-infrared light. Newer Landsats, including the coming Landsat 9 mission, have two sensors: the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS). Together, they see visible, near-infrared, shortwave-infrared, and thermal infrared wavelengths. By comparing observations of different wavelengths, scientists can identify algal blooms, storm damage, fire burn scars, the health of plants, and more. Landsat beams data down to ground stations on Earth, where it is recorded to four different drives as back up. The redundancy of data storage is really important. The Landsat legacy includes almost 50 years of observations of Earth from space — one of the longest space-based data records in existence. The length of Landsat’s data record is crucial for studying change over time. From the growth of cities, to the extension of irrigation in the desert, to insect damage to forests, to plant regrowth after a volcanic eruption, Landsat lets us see our planet change. As of 2008, all of that data is free to the public. Anyone can download and use Landsat imagery — for everything from beautiful art to studying how our planet is changing. For the last 50 years, Landsat satellites have shown us Earth in unprecedented ways, but they haven’t operated alone. When it comes to studying our home planet, Landsat works in conjunction with other satellites from NASA and partner agencies like NOAA and the European Space Agency, as well as private companies. The old adage about teamwork holds true here: It’s made observations of Earth better! After almost 50 years, the Landsat mission is still going strong. Every time a new satellite launches, it increases our knowledge of the planet we call home. Stay tuned for the launch of the newest Landsat satellite, coming Sept. 2021! The Landsat Program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Landsat satellites have been consistently gathering data about our planet since 1972. They continue to improve and expand this unparalleled record of Earth's changing landscapes for the benefit of all.
  • NASA’s Asteroid Heist: The Challenges of TAG
    NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx, will make a daring attempt to “TAG” asteroid Bennu on Oct. 20 – touch its surface and collect a sample for return to Earth. Sample site Nightingale, the mission’s targeted touch down spot, is only a few parking spaces wide and surrounded by building-sized boulders that pose a hazard to OSIRIS-REx. The spacecraft will carefully navigate down to the sample site with its sampling arm extended and touch Bennu’s surface for several seconds. Upon contact, the collector head will fire a bottle of nitrogen gas to agitate loose material, which is then caught in the spacecraft’s collector head. After this brief touch, OSIRIS-REx will fire its thrusters to back away from Bennu, navigating to a safe distance from the asteroid. The spacecraft will depart Bennu in 2021 and deliver the sample to Earth on Sep. 24, 2023.