2022 Goddard Summer Film Fest

See highlights of Goddard’s achievements over the past year in astrophysics, Earth science, heliophysics and planetary science. Highlights will include missions such as the James Webb Space Telescope, OSIRIS-REx, Landsat 9, Hubble Space Telescope, Parker Solar Probe, Fermi, ICESat-2, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Lucy and much more.

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Festival Playlist

  • OSIRIS-REx Sheds Light on Hazardous Asteroid Bennu
    2021.08.11
    On September 25, 2135, an asteroid called Bennu will make a close flyby of Earth. Our planet’s gravity will tweak Bennu’s path, making it a challenge to calculate its future trajectory. During the flyby, there is an extremely small chance that Bennu will pass through a “gravitational keyhole” – a region of space that would set it on just the right path to impact Earth, late in the 22nd century.

    Although it is difficult to determine the odds of this actually happening, new data from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft have allowed scientists to better model how Bennu’s orbit will evolve over time, and to better calculate the probability of an impact. Now, a new paper from the OSIRIS-REx science team gives Bennu a 1:2700 (0.037%) chance of impacting Earth on September 24, 2182.

    Learn more about asteroid Bennu's updated impact hazard.
  • Video Visions of the Future
    2021.10.19
    At NASA, our mission is to explore. We visit destinations in our solar system and study worlds beyond to better understand big questions. How did we get here? Where are we headed? Are we alone? While our robotic explorers have toured our solar system, the only place beyond Earth where humans have stood is the Moon. That’s also the next place we’ll send astronauts. But not the last! While humans haven’t yet visited Mars, we’re planning to add boot prints to the rover tire tracks there now. We also dream of traveling to distant worlds, and what they might be like. This video shows fanciful, imagined adventures to real places we’ve studied. Inspired by a series of travel posters produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, NASA Goddard video maven Chris Smith employed green screens and computer graphics to bring these scenes to life.
  • Pinpointing the Moon's South Pole
    2022.02.28
    In the system of lunar latitude and longitude adopted by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, the Moon’s South Pole is located on the rim of Shackleton crater at a point marked by a red pin in this visualization. If you imagine Shackleton as the (very big!) face of a clock with noon pointing toward Earth, the South Pole is about halfway between 10 and 11 o'clock. Before launch, the LRO team adopted the Mean Earth/Polar Axis (Moon ME) coordinate system for all of its data products, and this has become the standard for mapping all lunar data. In this system, the Z axis is the mean (average) rotation axis, and the X axis points in the mean direction of the Earth. Because of libration, both of these directions must be calculated as averages over long time spans. The specific calculation for LRO’s Moon ME coordinate system is embodied in the JPL ephemeris named DE421, released in 2008. Internally, JPL’s ephemeris calculations use a different coordinate system called the Principal Axis (Moon PA) frame. Roughly speaking, the Moon PA system balances the mass along each axis, which simplifies the calculation of the Moon’s slightly wobbly rotations. Moon ME is then defined as a small rotation relative to Moon PA that amounts to a difference of about 875 meters (half a mile) between the two systems. The definition and wide adoption of a standard coordinate system for the Moon is vital for mapping and exploring our nearest neighbor. With such a system, we can confidently pinpoint any feature on the Moon, including the exact location of its South Pole.
  • A Trip Through Time with Landsat 9
    2021.09.01
    For half a century, the Landsat mission has shown us Earth from space. Now, come along with us on a ‘roadtrip’ through the decades to see how the technology on this NASA and U.S. Geological Survey partnership has evolved with the times to provide an unbroken data record. Our roadtrip begins with the idea for an Earth-observing sensor in the 1960s and then cruises through the first game-changing launches in the 1970s, the advent of natural color composite images in the 1980s, the increased global coverage in the 1990s, the move to free and open data archives in the 2000s, the modern era of Landsat observations in the 2010s, and now the launch of Landsat 9 in 2021. Landsat satellites have allowed us to better manage our natural resources, and will continue to help people track the effects of climate change into the future. 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.
  • Elements of Webb: Beryllium Part 2 Ep04
    2021.12.01
    So Utah is home to many valuable materials – copper, magnesium, uranium, gold and silver. But most of the world’s beryllium is mined here. And engineers chose beryllium for Webb’s mirrors because it is lightweight, it is strong and it is dimensionally stable. We are actually standing on the beryllium ore seam. Beryllium is in the volcanic ash dust. It was hydrothermally deposited millions of years ago and then coved by volcanic rock. We have to remove the volcanic rock on top of the ore seam and then use a scraper and a bulldozer to extract the ore that we’re standing on top of. 90% of the beryllium that was mined in the world came from this deposit.
  • Behind the Scenes of Elements of Webb
    2022.07.21
    Behind the scenes look at the Elements of Webb series with producers Sophia Roberts and Mike McClare.
  • NASA's Fermi Spots 'Fizzled' Burst from Collapsing Star
    2021.07.26
    On Aug. 26, 2020, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope detected a pulse of high-energy radiation that turned out to be one for the record books – the shortest gamma-ray burst (GRB) caused by the death of a massive star ever seen. GRBs are the most powerful events in the universe. Astronomers classify them as long or short based on whether the event lasts for more or less than two seconds. They observe long bursts in association with the demise of massive stars, while short bursts have been linked to a different scenario. Named GRB 200826A, the event is definitely a short-duration GRB, but other properties point to its origin from a collapsing star. When a star much more massive than the Sun runs out of fuel, its core suddenly collapses and forms a black hole. As matter swirls toward the black hole, some of it escapes in the form of two powerful jets that rush outward at almost the speed of light in opposite directions. Astronomers only detect a GRB when one of these jets happens to point almost directly toward Earth. Each jet drills through the star, producing a pulse of gamma rays – the highest-energy form of light – that can last up to minutes. Following the burst, the disrupted star then rapidly expands as a supernova. To prove the blast came from a dying star, a team led by Tomás Ahumada, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, searched for the GRB’s fading afterglow and the emerging light of the supernova explosion that followed. GRB 200826A was a sharp blast of high-energy emission about a second long when it was detected by Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor. NASA’s Wind and Mars Odyssey missions also saw it, as did ESA's (the European Space Agency’s) INTEGRAL satellite, which enabled astronomers to narrow the burst's location in the sky. They quickly located the afterglow using the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at Palomar Observatory. Twenty-eight days after the burst, the team detected the light of a supernova in the burst's host galaxy, proving the blast came from the demise of a massive star. The astronomers describe the GRB as a fizzle, where weak jets lasted just long enough to breach the star's surface before shutting down. If the jets had been any weaker, the burst might not have occurred at all.
    El 26 de agosto de 2020, el telescopio espacial de rayos gamma Fermi de la NASA detectó un pulso de radiación de alta energía que resultó ser uno para los libros de récords – el brote de rayos gamma más corto causado por la muerte de una estrella masiva jamás visto. Los brotes de rayos gamma (GRB por sus siglas en inglés) son los eventos más potentes del universo. Los astrónomos los clasifican como largos o cortos en función de si el evento dura más o menos de dos segundos. Los brotes de rayos gamma largos se observan en asociación con la muerte de estrellas masivas, mientras que los estallidos cortos se han relacionado con un escenario diferente. Nombrado GRB 200826A, el evento es definitivamente un GRB de corta duración, pero otras de sus propiedades apuntan a que su origen es una estrella que colapsó. Cuando una estrella mucho más masiva que el Sol se queda sin combustible, su núcleo colapsa repentinamente y forma un agujero negro. A medida que la materia cae hacia el agujero negro, parte de ella escapa en forma de dos potentes chorros que se precipitan hacia el exterior casi a la velocidad de la luz en direcciones opuestas. Los astrónomos sólo detectan un GRB cuando uno de estos chorros apunta casi directamente hacia la Tierra. Cada chorro perfora la estrella, produciendo un pulso de rayos gamma – la forma de luz de mayor energía y – que puede durar hasta minutos. Después del estallido, la estrella se expande rápidamente como una supernova. Para demostrar que la explosión provino de una estrella moribunda, un equipo dirigido por Tomás Ahumada, un estudiante de doctorado en la Universidad de Maryland, College Park y el Centro de Vuelo Espacial Goddard de la NASA en Greenbelt, Maryland, buscó el resplandor del GRB y la luz emergente proveniente de la supernova que le siguió. El GRB 200826A fue una breve explosión de emisión de alta energía que duró aproximadamente un segundo de duración cuando fue detectada por el monitor de ráfagas de rayos gamma de Fermi. Las misiones Wind y Mars Odyssey de la NASA también lo detectaron, al igual que el satélite INTEGRAL de la ESA (la Agencia Espacial Europea), lo que permitió a los astrónomos reducir la ubicación de la explosión en el cielo. Rápidamente localizaron el resplandor posterior a la explosión utilizando la Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) en el Observatorio Palomar. Veintiocho días después de la explosión, el equipo detectó la luz de una supernova en la galaxia anfitriona de la explosión, lo que demuestra que la explosión provino de la muerte de una estrella masiva. Los astrónomos describen este GRB como una fuga de rayos gamma, donde los chorros débiles duraron justo lo suficiente como para romper la superficie de la estrella antes de apagarse. Si el GRB hubiese sido ligeramente mas débil, el estallido podrían no haber ocurrido en absoluto.
  • Unboxing Apollo Samples
    2022.05.03
    Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, recently received samples of the lunar surface that have been curated in a freezer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston since Apollo 17 astronauts returned them to Earth in December 1972. This research is part of the Apollo Next Generation Sample Analysis Program, or ANGSA, an effort to study the samples returned from the Apollo Program in advance of the upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon’s South Pole.
  • The Solar Wind: A Heliophysics Sea Shanty (The Wellerman parody)
    2021.05.07
    Parodying the classic sea shanty The Wellerman, "The Solar Wind: A Heliophysics Sea Shanty" illuminates one of the primary connections between the Sun and Earth, the solar wind. The Sun releases a constant outflow of magnetized material, known as the solar wind. The solar wind causes a cascade of effects on space and Earth. The most brilliant of these is the aurora, glowing light shows that provide a stunning example of the Sun-Earth connection. Find the latest NASA heliophysics research at nasa.gov/sunearth.
  • Snack Time with NASA
    2021.08.18
    Snack Time with NASA digs into the science behind what’s on your plate from a tasty cheese board, to seafood, to fresh produce, to chips and dip. Food can bring us a sense of home, and it connects people all around the world. With observations from space and aircraft, combined with high-end computer modeling, NASA scientists work together with partner agencies, organizations, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and decision makers to understand the relationship between the Earth system and the environments that provide us food.
  • Lucy's Journey: Episode 4 - "Instruments"
    2021.09.30
    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.
  • We Asked NASA Scientists and Astronauts "What is your Favorite Hubble Image?"
    2021.08.05
    Over the years, Hubble video producer Paul Morris has had the amazing opportunity to interview some of the brightest minds in astrophysics, and some of the coolest astronauts and people in the world. As a rule, he always asked every single person this one question. Every single time: “What is your favorite Hubble image?” He began to see a pattern in their answers. For more information, visit https://nasa.gov/hubble. Additional Visualizations: Time Lapse of Sun Setting: Pond 5 Diatom Movement: Credit: Brenden Seah Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time: Credit: NASA, ESA and F. Summers (STScI) Music Credits: "’Children’s Games’ Piece for orchestra" by Georges Bizet [DP] via Koka Media [SACEM], and Universal Production Music. “Horn Romp” by Oded Fried-Gaon [ACUM] via 10 Miles [ACUM], and Universal Production Music. “Ever Onward” by Joel Goodman [ASCAP] via Medley Lane Music [ASCAP], and Universal Production Music. “Saving Earth” by Enrico Cacace [BMI] and Lorenzo Castellarin [BMI] via Atmosphere Music Ltd. [PRS], and Universal Production Music. “Solaris Planet” by Matthew Nicholson [PRS] and Shin Suzuma [PRS] via Ninja Tune Production Music [PRS], and Universal Production Music. “Dream of Stars” by Magnum Opus [ASCAP] via Sound Pocket Music [PRS], and Universal Production Music. “The Moldau (Exc. My Country)” by Bedrich Smetana [PD] via Koka Media [SACEM], and Universal Production Music.
  • Photon Phriday
    2019.08.29
    Photon Phriday is a weekly look at what ICESat-2 is measuring as it orbits the Earth. ICESat-2 Project Scientist Tom Neumann takes a look back at some recent passes in celebration of the first year on orbit for the mission. Follow @NASA_ICE for new Photon Phridays and results from NASA's ice-observing missions.
  • An Orrery of Black Holes and Their Companions
    2022.05.02
    This visualization shows 22 X-ray binaries in our Milky Way galaxy and its nearest neighbor, the Large Magellanic Cloud, that host confirmed stellar-mass black holes. The systems are shown at the same physical scale, and their orbital motion is sped up by nearly 22,000 times. All of the binaries are angled to replicate our view of them from Earth. The star colors range from blue-white to reddish, representing temperatures from 5 times hotter to 45% cooler than our Sun. Because the accretion disks reach even higher temperatures, they use a different color scheme. While the black holes appear on a scale reflecting their masses, all are depicted using spheres much larger than actual size. Cygnus X-1’s black hole, the first one ever confirmed, weighs about 21 times more than the Sun, but its surface – called its event horizon – spans only about 77 miles (124 kilometers). The enlarged spheres also cover up visible distortions produced by the black holes’ gravitational effects. In most of these systems, a stream of gas often flows directly from the star toward the black hole, forming around it a broad, flattened structure called an accretion disk. In others, like Cygnus X-1, a massive star produces a thick outflow called a stellar wind, some of which becomes swept up by the black hole’s intense gravity. Gas in the accretion disk heats up as the material slowly spirals inward, glowing in visible, ultraviolet, and finally X-ray light.
  • A 3D View of an Atmospheric River from an Earth System Model
    2022.01.25
    Features in Earth’s atmosphere, spawned by the heat of the Sun and the rotation of the Earth, transport water and energy around the globe. Clouds and precipitation shown here are from NASA’s MERRA-2 reanalysis, a retrospective blend of a weather model and conventional and satellite observations. Within the mid-latitudes, winds move clouds from west to east. Within the tropics easterly trade winds converge along the equator to create a moisture rich cluster of clouds, convection, and precipitation called the intertropical convergence zone, or ITCZ. Disturbances in its flow transport immense amounts of moisture and energy from the tropics to the poles. Studies have shown that atmospheric rivers account for the vast majority of the poleward transport of water vapor. The American Meteorological Society defines an atmospheric river as “a long, narrow, and transient corridor of strong horizontal water vapor transport that is typically associated with a low-level jet stream ahead of the cold front of an extratropical cyclone.” A common measure for the strength of an atmospheric river is the integrated water vapor transport, or the amount of moisture that is moved from one place to another by the flow of the atmosphere. The blue shading shown here gives a three-dimensional view of the water vapor transport. Tropical moisture is pulled in from the ITCZ and in this example, converges with other moisture sources to form an atmospheric river. The feature then travels towards the west coast of the United States as a sub-class of atmospheric rivers commonly referred to as the “pineapple express” due to its origin near Hawai’i. The atmospheric river is guided by the semi-permanent sub-tropical high pressure off the coast of California and the Baja Peninsula as well as the Aleutian low in the Gulf of Alaska. The pressure gradient between the clockwise flow of the Californian high and the counterclockwise flow of the Aleutian low funnel the atmospheric moisture into a narrow corridor. The more intense the pressure gradient is, the stronger the winds are that transport the water vapor. Extreme rainfall has also been associated with the more intense gradients. Much of the moisture stays close to the surface but the rising motion of the low pressure to the north results in the air cooling, condensing the water vapor into a liquid. Precipitation over the ocean falls along the feature’s cold front on its northern side. Another way that air can rise and condense into precipitation is through orographic lift. When air encounters the mountains along the west coast of the United States, it is forced upwards. The rising air becomes saturated, causing rain and snow to fall, particularly on the windward side of the mountain. The flow of air continues eastward, depleted of its moisture. The precipitation that falls because of atmospheric rivers is important for the hydrologic cycle in the western United States. The winter buildup of the snowpack provides valuable freshwater resources. Despite being beneficial at times, atmospheric river induced precipitation can also be destructive. The occurrence of extreme atmospheric river precipitation events, such as the one that occurred in this example, can result in widespread flooding and mudslides. Atmospheric rivers are not unique to the west coast of North America and occur around the globe, including Europe, New Zealand, the Middle East, Greenland, and Antarctica. The study of global phenomenon such as atmospheric rivers over the past four decades is made possible through NASA’s MERRA-2 reanalysis, a spatially and temporally consistent blend of satellite and conventional observations with a numerical model. With a dataset that provides hourly information around the globe since 1980, there is still much that can be learned about Earth’s atmosphere and the transport of water and energy around the globe.
  • NASA’s New Views of Venus’ Surface From Space
    2022.02.09
    NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has taken its first visible light images of the surface of Venus from space.   Smothered in thick clouds, Venus’ surface is usually shrouded from sight. But in two recent flybys of the planet, Parker used its Wide-Field Imager, or WISPR, to image the entire nightside in wavelengths of the visible spectrum – the type of light that the human eye can see – and extending into the near-infrared. The images, combined into a video, reveal a faint glow from the surface that shows distinctive features like continental regions, plains, and plateaus. A luminescent halo of oxygen in the atmosphere can also be seen surrounding the planet. Link to NASA.gov feature. Link to associated research paper.
  • 29 Days on the Edge
    2021.10.18
    The greatest origin story of all unfolds with the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb's launch is a pivotal moment that exemplifies the dedication, innovation, and ambition behind NASA and its partners, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA), but it is only the beginning. The 29 days following liftoff will be an exciting but harrowing time. Thousands of parts must work correctly, in sequence, to unfold Webb and put it in its final configuration. All while Webb flies through the expanse of space, alone, to a destination nearly one million miles away from Earth. As the largest and most complex telescope ever sent into space, the James Webb Space Telescope is a technological marvel. By necessity, Webb takes on-orbit deployments to the extreme. Each step can be controlled expertly from the ground, giving Webb's Mission Operations Center full control to circumnavigate any unforseen issues with deployment.