A collection of NASA Goddard Instagram videos.

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  • Instagram: The Electric Wind of Venus
    In many ways, Venus is the most similar planet to Earth. Not only are its size and gravity comparable to Earth’s, but there’s evidence that Venus once had lots of water – oceans’ worth! – in the distant past. So what happened? New NASA-funded research using data from ESA’s Venus Express reveal that it may have been Venus’ electric field that stripped the planet of water. Venus’ electric field is about 5-10 times stronger than Earth’s. That electric force is enough to rip particles – including the building blocks of water – out of Venus’ atmosphere. Over time, this “electric wind” could leave a watery planet bone-dry, making it a key factor in whether or not a planet is hospitable to life. Understanding this process will help scientists pinpoint where potentially habitable planets could be lurking around other stars.
  • Instagram: Solar Storms May Have Been Key to Life on Earth
    Our sun's adolescence was stormy—and new evidence shows that these tempests may have been just the key to seeding life as we know it.

    Some 4 billion years ago, the sun shone with only about three-quarters the brightness we see today, but its surface roiled with giant eruptions spewing enormous amounts of solar material and radiation out into space. These powerful solar explosions may have provided the crucial energy needed to warm Earth, despite the sun's faintness. The eruptions also may have furnished the energy needed to turn simple molecules into the complex molecules such as RNA and DNA that were necessary for life. The research was published in Nature Geoscience on May 23, 2016, by a team of scientists from NASA.

    Understanding what conditions were necessary for life on our planet helps us both trace the origins of life on Earth and guide the search for life on other planets. Until now, however, fully mapping Earth's evolution has been hindered by the simple fact that the young sun wasn't luminous enough to warm Earth.

    "Back then, Earth received only about 70 percent of the energy from the sun than it does today," said Vladimir Airapetian, lead author of the paper and a solar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "That means Earth should have been an icy ball. Instead, geological evidence says it was a warm globe with liquid water. We call this the Faint Young Sun Paradox. Our new research shows that solar storms could have been central to warming Earth."

  • Instagram: Why Do Raindrop Sizes Matter In Storms?
    Not all raindrops are created equal. The size of falling raindrops depends on several factors, including where the cloud producing the drops is located on the globe and where the drops originate in the cloud. For the first time, scientists have three-dimensional snapshots of raindrops and snowflakes around the world from space, thanks to the joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. With the new global data on raindrop and snowflake sizes this mission provides, scientists can improve rainfall estimates from satellite data and in numerical weather forecast models, helping us better understand and prepare for extreme weather events.
  • Instagram: Scientists Link Faraway Fires To High Ozone Levels In Pacific
    NASA-funded scientists have traced the origins of mysterious pockets of high ozone concentrations and low water vapor in the air above the western Pacific Ocean near Guam to fires burning in Southeast Asia and in Africa, half a world away.

    These pockets of ozone—a powerful greenhouse gas—are three times more concentrated than surrounding air and are found at around 30,000 feet in the lower part of Earth’s atmosphere known as the troposphere, within the cruising altitude of most commercial airliners. As a greenhouse gas, ozone in the troposphere is an important contributor to global warming, but because it varies widely in where it occurs and how long it stays aloft, its true impact on climate change is hard to determine.

    Researchers studying the air over Guam during the winter of 2014 during a pair of airborne field campaigns captured a comprehensive picture of the chemicals traveling with the ozone—chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide and acetonitrile, which originate in fires. Using a data-driven computer model, they then traced the ozone-laden air pockets back 10 to 15 days in most cases—right back to fires in either Southeast Asia, about 2,000 miles away, or tropical Africa, over 8,000 miles away.

  • Instagram: Hurricane Pali - First Storm in the Central Pacific
    Tropical storm Pali intensified late on Jan. 11 to become the earliest hurricane ever recorded in the Central Pacific Ocean. Warm ocean waters from El Nino supplied the extra energy needed for Pali to develop and prosper so early in the year. NASA's GPM core observatory got an inside look at the record-breaking hurricane while the Suomi NPP satellite captured a visible-light look at the storm from above.
  • Instagram: Brazil's Extreme Drought Seen From Space
    Empty water reservoirs, severe water rationing, and electrical blackouts are the new status quo in major cities across southeastern Brazil where the worst drought in 35 years has desiccated the region. A new NASA study estimates that the region has lost an average of 15 trillion gallons of water per year from 2012 to 2015. Eastern Brazil as a whole has lost on average 28 trillion gallons of water per year over the same time period.

    Augusto Getirana, a hydrologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, analyzed the amount of water stored in aquifers and rivers across Brazil from 2002 to 2015, interested in understanding the depth of the current drought.

    A new data visualization of 13 years of GRACE data shows the distribution of water across Brazil. Blues indicate increases in water, mostly occurring in the western regions of Brazil in the rainforest. Meanwhile red and orange shows where water stores have declined, occurring mainly in the north and southeast. At the beginning of the data collection, in 2002, Brazil was just coming out of a drought that began in 2000. A wet period followed until 2012 when dry conditions set in again due to a lack of precipitation and higher than usual temperatures, according to supplemental data.

    Southeastern Brazil was hardest hit by drought conditions, said Getirana. To make matters worse, Brazil relies on rivers that feed into reservoirs and dams that generate about 75 percent of the electrical power for the country. By September 2014, for example, the Cantareira reservoir system that provides water for 8.8 million people in São Paulo's metro region reported that it was filled to 10.7 percent of its total capacity, a situation that has led to major water rationing.

    Research: Extreme water deficit in Brazil detected from space.

    Journal: Hydrometeorology, October 27, 2015. Link to paper: Here is the YouTube video. Additional footage from: Itaipu Binacional Files.

  • Instagram: Earth’s Oceans Show Decline In Microscopic Plant Life
    The world's oceans have seen significant declines in certain types of microscopic plant-life at the base of the marine food chain, according to a new NASA study. The research is the first to look at global, long-term phytoplankton community trends based on a model driven by NASA satellite data. Diatoms, the largest type of phytoplankton algae, have declined more than 1 percent per year from 1998 to 2012 globally, with significant losses occurring in the North Pacific, North Indian and Equatorial Indian oceans. The reduction in population may have an impact on the amount of carbon dioxide drawn out of the atmosphere and transferred to the deep ocean for long-term storage.
  • Instagram: Approaching The 2015 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum
    As the sun sets over the Arctic, the end of this year’s melt season is quickly approaching and the sea ice cover has already shrunk to the fourth lowest in the satellite record. With possibly some days of melting left, the sea ice extent could still drop to the second or third lowest on record.

    Arctic sea ice, which regulates the planet’s temperature by bouncing solar energy back to space, has been on a steep decline for the last two decades. This animation shows the evolution of Arctic sea ice in 2015, from its annual maximum wintertime extent, reached on February 25, to September 6.

  • Instagram: NASA's Sea Level Rise TV Program
    At 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT) on Friday, Aug. 28, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will host a live TV program about agency research into how and why the massive Greenland ice sheet is changing. The event features scientists actively conducting field work in Greenland, along with extensive video footage of their work performed over this summer.

    Panelists include: Tom Wagner (cryosphere program scientist with NASA's Earth Science Division), Laurence Smith (chair of the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Geography), Mike Bevis (professor of geodynamics at Ohio State University in Columbus), Sophie Nowicki (physical scientist at Goddard), and Josh Willis (JPL).

    The Friday program will air live on NASA TV and stream online at: To ask questions via social media during the televised event, use the hashtag #askNASA.

  • Instagram: Scientists Link Earlier Melting Of Snow To Dark Aerosols
    Tiny particles suspended in the air, known as aerosols, can darken snow and ice causing it to absorb more of the sun’s energy. But until recently, scientists rarely considered the effect of all three major types of light-absorbing aerosols together in climate models. In a new study, NASA scientists used a climate model to examine the impact of this snow-darkening phenomenon on Northern Hemisphere snowpacks, including how it affects snow amount and heating on the ground in spring. The study looked at three types of light-absorbing aerosols – dust, black carbon and organic carbon. Black carbon and organic carbon are produced from the burning of fossil fuels, like coal and oil, as well as biofuels and biomass, such as forests. With their snow darkening effect added to NASA’s GEOS-5 climate model, scientists analyzed results from 2002 to 2011, and compared them to model runs done without the aerosols on snow. They found that the aerosols indeed played a role in absorbing more of the sun’s energy. Over broad places in the Northern Hemisphere, the darkened snow caused some surface temperatures to be up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it would be if the snow were pristine. As a result, warmer, snow-darkened areas had less snow in spring than they would have had under pristine snow conditions. According to the study, dust’s snow darkening effect significantly contributed to surface warming in Central Asia and the western Himalayas. Black carbon’s snow darkening effect had a larger impact primarily in Europe, the eastern Himalayas and East Asia. It had a smaller impact in North America. Organic carbon’s snow darkening effect was relatively lower but present in regions such as southeastern Siberia, northeastern East Asia and western Canada. “As we add more of these aerosols to the mix, we are potentially increasing our overall impact on Earth’s climate,” said research scientist Teppei Yasunari at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Research: Impact of snow darkening via dust, black carbon, and organic carbon on boreal spring climate in the Earth system Journal: Geophysical Research: Atmospheres Link to paper: Here is the YouTube video.
  • Instagram: What Are The Chances Of Another Katrina?
    The U.S. hasn’t experienced the landfall of a Category 3 hurricane or larger since 2005, when Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma all hit the U.S. coast. According to a new NASA study, a string of nine years without a major hurricane landfall in the U.S. is Iikely to come along only once every 177 years.

    The current nine-year “drought” is the longest period of time that has passed without a major hurricane making landfall in the U.S. since reliable records began in 1850, said Timothy Hall, a research scientist who studies hurricanes at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York.

    The National Hurricane Center calls any Category 3 or more intense hurricane a “major” storm. Hall and colleague Kelly Hereid, who works for ACE Tempest Re, a reinsurance firm based in Connecticut, ran a statistical hurricane model based on a record of Atlantic tropical cyclones from 1950 to 2012 and sea surface temperature data.

    The researchers ran 1,000 computer simulations of the period from 1950-2012 – in effect simulating 63,000 separate Atlantic hurricane seasons. They found that a nine-year period without a major landfall is likely to occur once every 177 years on average.

    While the study did not delve into the meteorological causes behind this lack of major hurricane landfalls, Hall said it appears it is a result of luck.

    Research: The frequency and duration of U.S. hurricane droughts.

    Journal: Geophysical Research Letters, May 5, 2015.

    Link to paper:

    Here is the YouTube video.

  • Instagram: Big Ozone Holes Headed For Extinction By 2040
    The next three decades will see an end of the era of big ozone holes. In a new study, scientists from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center say that the ozone hole will be consistently smaller than 8 million square miles by the year 2040.

    Ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere cause an ozone hole to form over Antarctica during the winter months in the Southern Hemisphere. Since the Montreal Protocol agreement in 1987, emissions have been regulated and chemical levels have been declining. However, the ozone hole has still remained bigger than 8 million square miles since the early 1990s, with exact sizes varying from year to year.

    The size of the ozone hole varies due to both temperature and levels of ozone-depleting chemicals in the atmosphere. In order to get a more accurate picture of the future size of the ozone hole, scientists used NASA’s AURA satellite to determine how much the levels of these chemicals in the atmosphere varied each year. With this new knowledge, scientists can confidently say that the ozone hole will be consistently smaller than 8 million square miles by the year 2040. Scientists will continue to use satellites to monitor the recovery of the ozone hole and they hope to see its full recovery before the end of the century.

    Research: Inorganic chlorine variability in the Antarctic vortex and implications for ozone recovery.

    Journal: Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, December 18, 2014.

    Link to paper:

  • Instagram: Global Landslide Catalog Aids View From Space
    Landslides are among the most common and dramatic natural hazards, reshaping landscapes -- and anything in their path. Tracking when and where landslides occur worldwide has historically been difficult, because of the lack of a centralized database across all nations. But NASA researchers have updated the first publicly available Global Landslide Catalog, based on media reports and online databases that bring together many sources of information on landslides that have occurred since 2007. The catalog, originally released in 2010, is still the only one of its kind.

    Around 6000 landslides are noted in the catalog. This wealth of data gives scientists a starting point to analyze where, how and why landslides are likely to occur. In particular, NASA researchers have begun to compare landslide occurrence with global rainfall data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission.

    The catalog is currently available at:

    Research: Spatial and temporal analysis of a global landslide catalog. Journal: Geomorphology, March 21, 2015. Link to paper:

  • Instagram: 2015 Arctic Sea Ice Maximum Extent Is Lowest On Record
    The sea ice cap of the Arctic appeared to reach its annual maximum winter extent on February 25, according to data from the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. At 5.61 million square miles (14.54 million square kilometers), this year’s maximum extent was the smallest on the satellite record and also one of the earliest.

    Arctic sea ice, frozen seawater floating on top of the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas, is in constant change: it grows in the fall and winter, reaching its annual maximum between late February and early April, and then it shrinks in the spring and summer until it hits its annual minimum extent in September. The past decades have seen a downward trend in Arctic sea ice extent during both the growing and melting season, though the decline is steeper in the latter.

    This year’s maximum was reached 15 days earlier than the 1981 to 2010 average date of March 12, according to NSIDC. Only in 1996 did it occur earlier, on February 24. However, the sun is just beginning to rise on the Arctic Ocean and a late spurt of ice growth is still possible, though unlikely.

    If the maximum were to remain at 5.61 million square miles, it would be 50,000 square miles below the previous lowest wintertime extent, reached in 2011 at 5.66 million square miles — in percentages, that’s less than a 1 percent difference between the two record low maximums. In comparison, the swings between record lows for the Arctic summertime minimum extent have been much wider: the lowest minimum extent on record, in 2012, was 1.31 million square miles, about 300,000 square miles, or 18.6 percent smaller than the previous record low one, which happened in 2007 and clocked at 1.61 million square miles.

    A record low sea ice maximum extent does not necessarily lead to a record low summertime minimum extent.

    “The winter maximum gives you a head start, but the minimum is so much more dependent on what happens in the summer that it seems to wash out anything that happens in the winter,” said Walt Meier, a sea ice scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “If the summer is cool, the melt rate will slow down. And the opposite is true, too: even if you start from a fairly high point, warm summer conditions make ice melt fast. This was highlighted by 2012, when we had one of the later maximums on record and extent was near-normal early in the melt season, but still the 2012 minimum was by far the lowest minimum we’ve seen.”

    The main player in the wintertime maximum extent is the seasonal ice at the edges of the ice pack. This type of ice is thin and at the mercy of which direction the wind blows: warm winds from the south compact the ice northward and also bring heat that makes the ice melt, while cold winds from the north allow more sea ice to form and spread the ice edge southward.

    “Scientifically, the yearly maximum extent is not as interesting as the minimum. It is highly influenced by weather and we’re looking at the loss of thin, seasonal ice that is going to melt anyway in the summer and won’t become part of the permanent ice cover,” Meier said. “With the summertime minimum, when the extent decreases it’s because we’re losing the thick ice component, and that is a better indicator of warming temperatures.”

  • Instagram: NASA's First Global Rainfall And Snowfall Map
    Global Precipitation Measurement mission has produced its first global map of rainfall and snowfall.

    Like a lead violin tuning an orchestra, the GPM Core Observatory – launched one year ago on Feb. 27, 2014 as a collaboration between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – acts as the standard to unify precipitation measurements from a network of 12 satellites. The result is NASA's Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM data product, called IMERG, which combines all of these data from 12 satellites into a single, seamless map.

    This first IMERG data set spans the initial months of GPM data collection from April to September, 2014. The precipitation data collected covers the 87 percent of the globe that falls between 60 degrees north and 60 degrees south latitude, updated every half hour.

    The map covers more of the globe than any previous NASA precipitation data set, allowing scientists to see how rain and snowstorms move around nearly the entire planet. As scientists work to understand all the elements of Earth’s climate and weather systems, and how they could change in the future, GPM provides a major step forward in providing the scientific community comprehensive and consistent measurements of precipitation.

  • Instagram: Megadroughts Projected For American Southwest
    Droughts in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains at the end of this century could be drier and longer compared to drought conditions seen in those regions in the last 1,000 years, according to a new NASA study.

    The study, published Feb 12 in the journal Science Advances, is based on projections from several climate models, including one sponsored by NASA. The research found the risk of severe droughts in those regions would increase if human-produced greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase.

    "Natural droughts like the 1930s Dust Bowl and the current drought in the Southwest have historically lasted maybe a decade or a little less," said Ben Cook, climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York City, and lead author of the study. "What these results are saying is we're going to get a drought similar to those events, but it is probably going to last at least 30 to 35 years."

  • Instagram: The Greenland Ice Sheet In 3-D
    For nearly a century, scientists have been studying the form and flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet. They have measured the change in the elevation of the surface over time using satellites. They have drilled ice cores in the field to reveal a record of what the past climate was like. They have flown aircraft over the surface of the ice sheet laden with instruments to gleen information about the interior of the ice sheet and the bedrock below.

    Now a new analysis of this data has revealed a three dimensional map of the age of the ice sheet. This animation shows this new 3D age map of the Greenland Ice Sheet, explains how it was created and describes the three distinct periods of climate that are evident within the ice sheet.

  • Instagram: 2014 Warmest Year On Record
    The year 2014 now ranks as the warmest on record since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA scientists.

    Nine of the 10 warmest years since modern records began have now occurred since 2000, according to a global temperature analysis by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

  • Instagram: Satellite Sees More Green On Colorado River
    A pulse of water released down the lower reaches of the Colorado River last spring resulted in more than a 40 percent increase in green vegetation where the water flowed, as seen by the Landsat 8 satellite. The March 2014 release of water – an experimental flow implemented under a U.S.-Mexico agreement called "Minute 319" – reversed a 12-year decline in the greenness along the delta.

    Analysis of satellite images of pre-flow August 2013 to post-flow August 2014, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) calculated a 43 percent increase in green vegetation along the route wetted by the flow, called the inundation zone, and a 23 percent increase in greening of the riparian zone, or the river banks.

    Scientists presented these and other results this week at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Landsat 8 is a joint project of NASA and the USGS.

  • Instagram: Seeing Holiday Lights From Space
    For all those people who have ever said, “I bet you can see my neighbor’s Christmas lights from space!” well, we now have proof that they’re right — at least in aggregate. For the first time, NASA researchers have measured the increase in Earth’s night lights during both the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Years, in the U.S., and for the holy month of Ramadan in the Middle East.

    While we may not be able to see individual front yards, the satellite data has such good resolution that researchers from Yale University have been able to find correlations between political and socio-economic data for individual neighborhoods and the brightness measured from space. Researchers say being able to monitor our lighting output in this way is like being able to measure traffic on a highway, rather than just map the road itself.

    If we can understand the behavioral aspect of lights and energy use throughout the year it can shed light on our understanding of energy efficiency and human drivers of climate change.

  • Instagram: Absorbed Sun Energy In The Arctic
    NASA satellite instruments have observed a marked increase in solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic since the year 2000—a trend that aligns with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.

  • Instagram: Bennu's Journey
    Born from the rubble of a violent collision, hurled through space for millions of years, Asteroid Bennu has had a tough life in a rough neighborhood - the early solar system. Bennu's Journey shows what is known and what remains mysterious about the evolution of Bennu and the planets. By retrieving a sample of Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will teach us more about the raw ingredients of the solar system and our own origins.

    Below is a series of 15-second videos that can be found on NASA Goddard's Instagram and Flickr.

  • Instagram: Hurricane Sandy Anniversary
    Two years ago, Hurricane Sandy made landfall over the Northeastern U.S. Today, observations by NASA satellites and aircraft are helping us to better understand the structure of hurricanes and how different environments influence them. This leads to better predictions of where and how storms develop.

  • Instagram: Comet Siding Spring
    On October 19, Comet Siding Spring will pass within 88,000 miles of Mars – just one third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon! Traveling at 33 miles per second and weighing as much as a small mountain, the comet hails from the outer fringes of our solar system, originating in a region of icy debris known as the Oort cloud.

    Comets from the Oort cloud are both ancient and rare. Since this is Comet Siding Spring’s first trip through the inner solar system, scientists are excited to learn more about its composition and the effects of its gas and dust on the Mars upper atmosphere.

    NASA will be watching closely before, during, and after the flyby with its entire fleet of Mars orbiters and rovers, along with the Hubble Space Telescope and dozens of instruments on Earth. The encounter is certain to teach us more about Oort cloud comets, the Martian atmosphere, and the solar system’s earliest ingredients.

  • Instagram: Nimbus' 50th Anniversary
    A 15 second Instagram video that marks the 50th anniversary of the Nimbus satellites.

    For complete transcript, click here.

  • Instagram: Arctic Sea Ice Minimum 2014
    Sea ice acts as an air conditioner for the planet, reflecting energy from the Sun. On September 17, the Arctic sea ice reached its minimum extent for 2014. At 1.94 million square miles (5.02 million square kilometers), it’s the sixth lowest extent of the satellite record. With warmer temperatures and thinner, less resilient ice, the Arctic sea ice is on a downward trend.

  • Instagram: Rainfall Satellite Out of Fuel
    This is a 15 second Instagram video about NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. On July 8, TRMM's fuel tank indicated that the satellite was nearly at the end of its fuel supply. NASA has ceased maneuvers to keep the satellite at its operating altitude of 402 kilometers. With its speed decreasing, TRMM has begun to drift downward. As it slowly descends towards Earth, in the next two to three years, it will continue to collect useful data.

  • Instagram: Phytoplankton Levels Dropping
    This is a 15-second video explaining the decrease in phytoplankton levels.

    New research led by NASA researchers has found populations of the microscopic marine plants, phytoplankton, have decreased in the Northern Hemisphere. An analysis using a NASA model in combination with ocean satellite data between 1998 and 2012, showed a 1% decrease of phytoplankton per year.

    Research: Decadal Trends in Global Pelagic Ocean Chlorophyll: A New Assessment Combining Multiple Satellites, In Situ Data and Models, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.

  • Instagram: Mapping Alaska's Forests
    This is a 15-second video explaining why NASA and the U.S. Forest Service are surveying Alaska's forests.

    NASA and the U.S. Forest Service are surveying the forests of Interior Alaska by plane. An advanced instrument will be used to create a 3D map of the forest composition. This will enable scientists to see patterns of fire recovery and provide a benchmark for future changes to the region.