NASA Explorers is a digital series that takes viewers inside the agency for a close-up look at the scientists, engineers, pioneers & experts at the front lines of exploration. The series connects the seemingly disparate parts of NASA – from aeronautics, to science, to human spaceflight – by conveying a common drive to explore new frontiers, overcome seemingly impossible obstacles, and push humanity toward a better future.
For our inaugural season, we headed to Earth's cryosphere to cover researchers who frequent the most extreme environments on this planet in a quest of exploration: to understand our Earth, how it is changing, and how that change affects all of us.
NASA Explorers Season 1 was produced, edited, directed, narrated, and disseminated by a core team at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA on behalf of NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Music: "Swish" by Charles Stephens III; "Running out of Time" by Brice Davoli; "Search Everywhere" by Nicolas Montazaud; "256 Kenaston Avenue" by Jean-Christophe Beck; "Behind the Legend" by Matthew St Laurent
Episode One: The Big Thaw The Cryosphere is a place we all depend on, but many of us will never go to. As temperatures rise, the frozen regions of Earth are changing rapidly. NASA scientists are locked in a race against time to understand our shifting climate and how it affects life on Earth.
Music: "Cristal Delight" by Fred Dubois; "Life Defrosts" by Richard Andrew Canavan; "Locate" by Neil Pollard; "CSI" by Anthony Edwin Phillips; "Swish" by Charles Stephens III and Stephan Sechi; "Natural Beauty" by Benjamin Stefanski; "Running out of Time" by Brice Davoli
Episode Two: The Snow Below Snow is one part of the cryosphere that many of us have actually encountered, but it also plays a crucial role in regulating Earth’s climate. Through decades of remote sensing, NASA has kept a close eye on the ebb and flow of snow cover. NASA Explorers also venture into the field at the far reaches of Earth to study snow, a critical resource for the millions of people who rely on it for drinking water.
Episode Three: Ice Odyssey To know the evolution of sea ice and how we observe it from space is to know Dr. Claire Parkinson. Meet the scientist who continues to have a profound effect on the study of climate change through her work monitoring the health of global sea ice.
Music: "Swish" by Charles Stephens III; "Running out of Time" by Brice Davoli; "Whistle Sing" by Anders Johan Greger Lewen; "Playground Intrigue" by Brice Davoli; "Rainforest Dew" by James Alexander Dorman; "Spiralling Spheres" by Christopher Timothy White
Episode Four: Glacial Pace NASA Explorers study Earth's glaciers and ice sheets more than almost any other part of the cryosphere. As they melt and change, glaciers and ice sheets dramatically affect sea level rise and the climate system as a whole, creating an urgency to understand and forecast their behavior.
Episode Five: Frozen World You have to start somewhere when looking for life away from Earth. Many NASA Explorers look for places with water ice, including distant moons like Enceladus and Europa. This week, we’re traveling away from our home planet to investigate ice in the solar system.
Episode Six: High Mountain Glaciers They’re rivers of ice, slowly flowing down the sides of mountains, and they currently have an outsized role in sea level rise. This week, NASA Explorers are taking us high into the mountains of Alaska, Patagonia, Asia and elsewhere for a closer look at mountain glaciers.
Episode Seven: Permafrost This episode, NASA Explorers head back in time…by going underground. In the Arctic, a frozen layer of soil – permafrost – trapped dead plants and animals for thousands of years. As the climate warms, that soil is beginning to thaw, releasing carbon dioxide and methane.
Music: "Swish" by Charles Stephens III; "Running out of Time" by Brice Davoli; "Ideas for Tomorrow" by Laurent Dury; "Suburban Waltz" by Christopher Mark Salt and Philip Guyler; "Buoys" by Donn Wilkerson; "Late Night Drive" by Donn Wilkerson; "The BBQ" by Alexander Hitchens, Wally Gagel and Xandy Barry; "A Pizzicato Piece" by Andrew Michael Britton and David Stephen Goldsmith
Episode Eight: The Launch It’s 5 a.m. on a normal September day and NASA Explorers have gathered in a California field to watch a rocket launch light up the pre-dawn sky. On board the rocket is a satellite more than 10 years in the making, with one single instrument that will revolutionize the study of ice on Earth. Join the team in the excitement and stress of watching ICESat-2 launch into space and begin its work measuring our home planet.
Music: "Swish" by Charles Stephens III; "Running out of Time" by Brice Davoli; "Found Lullaby" by Richard Andrew Canavan; "Endurance Test" by Eric Chevalier; "Light Tense Weight" by Jody Karl Jenkins; "Beside You" by Dominic Marsh and Giovanni Tria, "Flawless: by Alexander Hitchens and Stephan Sechi
Episode Nine: Final Approach In the pre-dawn hours of a late October day, a satellite and an airplane joined forces over the frigid Weddell Sea, taking simultaneous measurements of drifting sea ice. It was the culmination of more than a decade of planning, designing and building the best way to measure Earth's changing ice. NASA Explorers are constantly pushing the limit to learn more about our world and those far beyond. Join in as they celebrate a milestone in the quest to better understand the planet we call home.
Bonus Episode: Cryo Kids NASA Explorers come in all ages! In this week’s bonus episode, we headed back to Alaska to check in with some of our tiniest Explorers. They’re following in the scientists’ footsteps, working with NASA’s GLOBE program to measure when and where snow and ice are freezing. Plus, stick around for a thank you message from our scientists to the young Explorers collecting their data.
GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 188.8.131.52.0