Goddard Space Flight Center

The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is a major NASA space research laboratory located approximately 6.5 miles (10.5 km) northeast of Washington, D.C. in unincorporated Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. Established on May 1, 1959 as NASA's first space flight center, GSFC employs approximately 10,000 civil servants and contractors. It is one of ten major NASA field centers, named in recognition of American rocket propulsion pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard. GSFC is partially within the former Goddard census-designated place; it has a Greenbelt mailing address.[1][2]

GSFC is the largest combined organization of scientists and engineers in the United States dedicated to increasing knowledge of the Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe via observations from space. GSFC is a major US laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. GSFC conducts scientific investigation, development and operation of space systems, and development of related technologies. Goddard scientists can develop and support a mission, and Goddard engineers and technicians can design and build the spacecraft for that mission. Goddard scientist John C. Mather shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on COBE.

GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the Space Network and the Near Earth Network), develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Explorers Program, the Discovery Program, the Earth Observing System (EOS), INTEGRAL, MAVEN, OSIRIS-REx, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
NASA logo
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Aerial view 2010 facing south

Aerial view of Goddard Space Flight Center (2010)
Agency overview
FormedMarch 1, 1959
Preceding agency
  • Beltsville Space Center
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersGreenbelt, Maryland, U.S.
Employees10,000 civil service and contractor
Agency executives
Parent agencyNASA
Child agencies
Goddard map


Goddard 50th anniversary logo

Goddard is NASA's first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication, planning, scientific research, technical operations, and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

Until May 1, 1959, NASA's presence in Greenbelt, Maryland was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Dr. Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy's Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America's first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury's personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

The Goddard network (STDN) tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard's Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA's key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System.[3] The Center's contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.


Goddard's partly wooded campus is a few miles northeast of Washington, D.C. in Prince George's County. The center is on Greenbelt Road, which is Maryland Route 193. Baltimore, Annapolis, and NASA Headquarters in Washington are 30–45 minutes away by highway. Greenbelt also has a train station with access to the Washington Metro system and the MARC commuter train's Camden line.

Testing chambers

The High Bay Cleanroom located in building 29 is the world's largest ISO 7 cleanroom with 1.3 million cubic feet of space.[4] Vacuum chambers in adjacent buildings 10 and 7 can be chilled or heated to +/- 200 °C (392 °F). Adjacent building 15 houses the High Capacity Centrifuge which is capable of generating 30 G on up to a 2.5 tons load.[5]

Parsons Corporation assisted in the construction of the Class 10,000 cleanroom to support Hubble Space Telescope as well as other Goddard missions.[6]

High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center

The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) is NASA's designated center for the archiving and dissemination of high energy astronomy data and information. Information on X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy and related NASA mission archives are maintained for public information and science access.[7]

Software Assurance Technology Center

The Software Assurance Technology Center (SATC) is a NASA department founded in 1992 as part of their Systems Reliability and Safety Office at Goddard Space Flight Center. Its purpose was "to become a center of excellence in software assurance, dedicated to making measurable improvement in both the quality and reliability of software developed for NASA at GSFC". The Center has been the source of research papers on software metrics, assurance, and risk management.[8]

Goddard Visitor Center

Cake hubble
Hubble model on display in visitor center
Promotional video for the visitor center
Goddard delta
Delta rocket on display in the rocket garden

The Goddard Visitor Center is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, free of charge, and features displays of spacecraft and technologies developed there. The Hubble Space Telescope is represented by models and deep space imagery from recent missions. The center also features a Science On a Sphere projection system.

The center also features an Educator's Resource Center available for use by teachers and education volunteers such as Boy and Girl Scout leaders; and hosts special events during the year. As an example, in September 2008 the Center opened its gates for Goddard LaunchFest (see Goddard LaunchFest Site). The event, free to the public, included; robot competitions, tours of Goddard facilities hosted by NASA employees, and live entertainment on the Goddard grounds.

External facilities

GSFC operates three facilities that are not located at the Greenbelt site. These facilities are:

GSFC is also responsible for the White Sands Complex, a set of two sites in Las Cruces, NM, but the site is owned by Johnson Space Center as part of the White Sands Test Facility.


Goddard Space Flight Center has a workforce of over 3,000 civil servant employees, 60% of whom are engineers and scientists.[9] There are approximately 7,000 supporting contractors on site every day. It is one of the largest concentrations of the world's premier space scientists and engineers. The Center is organized into 8 directorates, which includes Applied Engineering and Technology, Flight Projects, Science and Exploration, and Safety & Mission Assurance.[10]

Co-op students from universities in all 50 States can be found around the campus every season through the Cooperative Education Program.[11] During the summers, programs such as the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications (SIECA) and Excellence through Challenging Exploration and Leadership (EXCEL) provide internship opportunities to students from the US and territories such as Puerto Rico to learn and partake in challenging scientific and engineering work.


James Webb Space Telescope Revealed (26764527611)
James Webb Space Telescope mirrors assembled, May 2016

A fact sheet highlighting many of Goddard's previous missions are recorded on a 40th anniversary webpage [12]


Goddard has been involved in designing, building, and operating spacecraft since the days of Explorer 1, the nation's first artificial satellite. The list of these missions reflects a diverse set of scientific objectives and goals. The Landsat series of spacecraft has been studying the Earth's resources since the launch of the first mission in 1972. TIROS-1 launched in 1960 as the first success in a long series of weather satellites. The Spartan platform deployed from the space shuttle, allowing simple, low-cost 2-3 day missions. The second of NASA's Great Observatories, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, operated for nine years before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere in 2000. Another of Goddard's space science observatories, the Cosmic Background Explorer, provided unique scientific data about the early universe.[13]


Goddard currently supports the operation of dozens of spacecraft collecting scientific data. These missions include Earth science projects like the Earth Observing System (EOS) that includes the Terra, Aqua, and Aura spacecraft flying alongside several projects from other Centers or other countries. Other major Earth science projects that are currently operating include the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), missions that provide data critical to hurricane predictions. Many Goddard projects support other organizations, such as the US Geological Survey on Landsat-7 and -8, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system that provide weather predictions.

Other Goddard missions support a variety of space science disciplines. Goddard's most famous project is the Hubble Space Telescope, a unique science platform that has been breaking new ground in astronomy for nearly 20 years. Other missions such as the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) study the structure and evolution of the universe. Other missions such as the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) are currently studying the Sun and how its behavior affects life on the Earth. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is mapping out the composition and topography of the Moon and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is tracking the Sun's energy and influence on the Earth.


The Goddard community continually works on numerous operations and projects that have launch dates ranging from the upcoming year to a decade down the road. These operations also vary in what scientists hope they will uncover.

Particularly noteworthy operations include: the James Webb Space Telescope which will try to study the history of the universe.[14]


In this video, two Goddard technologists explain what innovation means and why it is so important to NASA

Addressing Scientific Questions

NASA's missions (and therefore Goddard's missions) address a broad range of scientific questions generally classified around four key areas: Earth sciences, astrophysics, heliophysics, and the Solar System.[15] To simplify, Goddard studies Earth and Space.[16]

Within the Earth sciences area, Goddard plays a major role in research to advance our understanding of the Earth as an environmental system, looking at questions related to how the components of that environmental system have developed, how they interact and how they evolve. This is all important to enable scientists to understand the practical impacts of natural and human activities during the coming decades and centuries.

Within Space Sciences, Goddard has distinguished itself with the 2006 Nobel Physics Prize given to John Mather and the COBE mission. Beyond the COBE mission, Goddard studies how the universe formed, what it is made of, how its components interact, and how it evolves. The Center also contributes to research seeking to understand how stars and planetary systems form and evolve and studies the nature of the Sun's interaction with its surroundings.

From Scientific Questions to Science Missions

Based on existing knowledge accumulated through previous missions, new science questions are articulated. Missions are developed in the same way an experiment would be developed using the scientific method. In this context, Goddard does not work as an independent entity but rather as one of the 10 NASA centers working together to find answers to these scientific questions.

Each mission starts with a set of scientific questions to be answered, a set of scientific requirements for the mission, which build on what has already been discovered by prior missions. Scientific requirements spell out the types data that will need to be collected. These scientific requirements are then transformed into mission concepts that start to specify the kind of spacecraft and scientific instruments need to be developed for these scientific questions to be answered.

Within Goddard, the Sciences and Exploration Directorate (SED) leads the center's scientific endeavors, including the development of technology related to scientific pursuits.

Collecting Data in Space – Scientific Instruments

Some of the most important technological advances developed by Goddard (and NASA in general) come from the need to innovate with new scientific instruments in order to be able to observe or measure phenomena in space that have never been measured or observed before. Instrument names tend to be known by their initials. In some cases, the mission's name gives an indication of the type of instrument involved. For example, the James Webb Space Telescope is, as its name indicates, a telescope, but it includes a suite of four distinct scientific instruments: Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI); Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam); Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec); Fine Guidance Sensor and Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS).[17] Scientists at Goddard work closely with the engineers to develop these instruments.

Typically, a mission consists of a spacecraft with an instrument suite (multiple instruments) on board. In some cases, the scientific requirements dictate the need for multiple spacecraft. For example, the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) studies magnetic reconnection, a 3-D process. In order to capture data about this complex 3-D process, a set of four spacecraft fly in a tetrahedral formation. Each of the four spacecraft carries identical instrument suites. MMS is part of a larger program (Solar Terrestrial Probes) that studies the impact of the Sun on the Solar System.

Goddard's Scientific Collaborations

In many cases, Goddard works with partners (US Government agencies, aerospace industry, university-based research centers, other countries) that are responsible for developing the scientific instruments. In other cases, Goddard develops one or more of the instruments. The individual instruments are then integrated into an instrument suite which is then integrated with the spacecraft. In the case of MMS, for example, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was responsible for developing the scientific instruments and Goddard provides overall project management, mission systems engineering, the spacecraft, and mission operations.[18]

On the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), six instruments have been developed by a range of partners. One of the instruments, the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), was developed by Goddard. LOLA measures landing site slopes and lunar surface roughness in order to generate a 3-D map of the moon.[19]

Another mission to be managed by Goddard is MAVEN. MAVEN is the second mission within the Mars Scout Program that is exploring the atmosphere of Mars in support of NASA's broader efforts to go to Mars. MAVEN carries eight instruments to measure characteristics of Mars' atmospheric gases, upper atmosphere, solar wind, and ionosphere. Instrument development partners include the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of California, Berkeley. Goddard contributed overall project management as well as two of the instruments, two magnetometers.

Managing Scientific Data

Once a mission is launched and reaches its destination, its instruments start collecting data. The data is transmitted back to Earth where it needs to be analyzed and stored for future reference. Goddard manages large collections of scientific data resulting from past and ongoing missions.

The Earth Science Division hosts the Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Division (GES DISC).[20] It offers Earth science data, information, and services to research scientists, applications scientists, applications users, and students.

The National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), created at Goddard in 1966, hosts a permanent archive of space science data, including a large collection of images from space.

Spinoff technologies

Section 102(d) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 calls for "the establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes."[21] Because of this mandate, the Technology Utilization Program was established in 1962 which required technologies to be brought down to Earth and commercialized in order to help the US economy and improve the quality of life.[22]

Documentation of these technologies that were spun off started in 1976 with "Spinoff 1976".[23] Since then, NASA has produced a yearly publication of these "spinoff technologies" through the Innovative Partnerships Program Office.

Goddard Space Flight Center has made significant contributions to the US economy and quality of life with the technologies it has spun off. Here are some examples: Weather balloon technology has helped firefighters with its short-range radios; aluminized Mylar in satellites has made sports equipment more insulated; laser optics systems have transformed the camera industry and life detection missions on other planets help scientists find bacteria in contaminated food.[24]


The Goddard Space Flight Center maintains ties with local area communities through external volunteer and educational programs. Employees are encouraged to take part in mentoring programs and take on speaking roles at area schools. On Center, Goddard hosts regular colloquiums in engineering, leadership and science. These events are open to the general public, but attendees must sign up in advance to procure a visitors pass for access to the Center's main grounds. Passes can be obtained at the security office main gate on Greenbelt Road.

Goddard also hosts several different internship opportunities, including NASA DEVELOP at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Queen Elizabeth II's visit

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Goddard Space Flight Center on Tuesday, May 8, 2007. The tour of Goddard was near the end of the queen's visit to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in Virginia. The queen spoke with crew aboard the International Space Station.[25]


Panoramic view of the Visitor's Center at Goddard Space Flight Center, with the top of a Delta rocket visible behind on right
Panoramic view of the Visitor's Center at Goddard Space Flight Center, with the top of a Delta rocket visible behind on right

See also


  1. ^ "CENSUS 2000 BLOCK MAP: GODDARD CDP." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 1, 2018. 1990 Census map of Prince George's County (index map) has Goddard CDP on Page 9.
  2. ^ "Driving Directions to the Goddard Visitor Center." Goddard Space Flight Center. Retrieved on September 1, 2018. "8800 Greenbelt Road Greenbelt, MD 20771" - Driving Directions Map, Campus Map
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-21. Retrieved 2009-01-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "NASA Cleanroom: Hubbles Last Stop". NASA.
  5. ^ "Goddard Testing Chambers". NASA.
  6. ^ "NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Greenbelt, MD - Parsons". Parsons. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  7. ^ "HEASARC: NASA's Archive of Data on Energetic Phenomena". nasa.gov.
  8. ^ "SATC at NASA". Satc.gsfc.nasa.gov. Archived from the original on 11 May 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  9. ^ "NASA - Goddard Information". Nasa.gov. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2009-08-29. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is located within the City of Greenbelt, Maryland, approximately 6.5 miles northeast of Washington, D. C. The suburban campus is situated approximately 1 mile northeast of the Capital Beltway/Interstate 495.
  10. ^ "NASA - Goddard's Organizations and Projects". Nasa.gov. 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
  11. ^ "NASA - Goddard Education Resources". Nasa.gov. 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
  12. ^ "NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center The First Forty Years" (PDF) (Press release). NASA. April 1999. Retrieved 2009-08-29.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Wilson, Jim (11 June 2013). "NASA Missions". Nasa.gov. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Science Mission Directorate - Science". nasascience.nasa.gov. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-17. Retrieved 2009-01-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Instruments JWST/NASA". Jwst.nasa.gov. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-24. Retrieved 2009-01-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "LOLA Products". Lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
  20. ^ "GES DISC". daac.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  21. ^ "National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, As Amended" (PDF). History.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2017-08-11.
  22. ^ Hall, Loura (15 September 2016). "Technology Transfer" (PDF). Sti.nasa.gov. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  23. ^ Hall, Loura (15 September 2016). "Technology Transfer". Sti.nasa.gov. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-09-05. Retrieved 2009-01-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ NASA Press Release on Queen Elizabeth II Visit Goddard, May 8, 2007 - Note: The visit followed a signing on April 19 of a statement of intent between NASA and the British National Space Centre, London, that confirmed a mutual desire for discussions on specific areas of potential collaboration involving lunar science and exploration.

External links

Coordinates: 38°59′49″N 76°50′54″W / 38.99694°N 76.84833°W


Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission (ARCADE) is a program which utilizes high-altitude balloon instrument package intended to measure the heating of the universe by the first stars and galaxies after the big bang and search for the signal of relic decay or annihilation. In July 2006 a strong residual radio source was found using the radiometer, approximately six times what is predicted by theory. This phenomenon is known as "space roar" and remains an unsolved problem in astrophysics.

ARCADE has been funded by the NASA's Science Mission Directorate under the Astronomy and Physics Research and Analysis Suborbital Investigation program. The program is composed of a team led by Alan Kogut of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. ARCADE was launched from NASA's Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, conducted under the auspices of the Balloon Program Office at Wallops Flight Facility. The balloon flew to an altitude of 120,000 feet (37 km), viewing about 7% of the sky during its observations.The instrument is designed to detect radiation at centimeter wavelengths. The craft contained seven radiometers which were cooled to 2.7 K (−270.45 °C; −454.81 °F) using liquid helium, with the intent to measure temperature differences as small as 1/1000 of a degree against a background which is only 3 K (−270.15 °C; −454.27 °F). The optics in the instrument package were placed near the top of the dewar flask which cooled them in order to prevent the instruments from seeing the walls of the container, thereby simplifying the processing of the observational data. This design choice necessitated the use of superfluid pumps in order to drench the radiometers in liquid helium. The design also utilized heaters in order to create a cloud of helium gas, in place of using a (relatively warm) window, which also simplified processing of the observational data.

Christopher Scolese

Christopher J. Scolese is director of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He was named to the position effective March 5, 2012. On February 7, 2019, President Donald Trump nominated Scolese to head the National Reconnaissance Office.

David Louis Band

David Louis Band or David L. Band (9 January 1957 – 16 March 2009) was an astronomer who studied the theory of gamma-ray bursts.

Fred Espenak

Fred Espenak (born 1953) is a retired emeritus American astrophysicist. He worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center. He is best known for his work on eclipse predictions.He became interested in astronomy when he was 7–8 years old, and had his first telescope when he was around 9–10 years old. Espenak earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Wagner College, Staten Island, where he worked in the planetarium. His master's degree is from the University of Toledo, based on studies he did at Kitt Peak Observatory of eruptive and flare stars among red dwarfs.

He was employed at Goddard Space Flight Center, where he used infrared spectrometers to measure the atmosphere of planets in the Solar System. He provided NASA's eclipse bulletins since 1978. He is the author of several canonical works on eclipse predictions, such as the Fifty Year Canon of Solar Eclipses: 1986–2035 and Fifty Year Canon of Lunar Eclipses: 1986–2035, both of which are standard references on eclipses. The first eclipse he saw was the solar eclipse of March 7, 1970, which sparked his interest in eclipses, and he has since seen over 20 eclipses. He is co-author with Jean Meeus of Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses, which covers all types of solar eclipses (partial, total, annular, or hybrid) from 2000 BCE to AD 3000. He is also a co-author (with Mark Littmann and Ken Willcoxof) of Totality: Eclipses of the Sun.He was the co-investigator of an atmospheric experiment flown on Space Shuttle Discovery.He is also known as "Mr. Eclipse." He gives public lectures on eclipses and astrophotophy. Astronomical photographs taken by Espenak have been published in National Geographic, Newsweek, Nature, New Scientist, and Ciel et Espace magazines.He retired in 2009. Asteroid 14120 Espenak was named in his honor in 2003.

Global Precipitation Measurement

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) or Global Precipitation Index (GPI) is a joint mission between JAXA and NASA as well as other international space agencies to make frequent (every 2–3 hours) observations of Earth’s precipitation. It is part of NASA's Earth Systematic Missions program and works with a satellite constellation to provide full global coverage. The project provides global precipitation maps to assist researchers in improving the forecasting of extreme events, studying global climate, and adding to current capabilities for using such satellite data to benefit society. GPM builds on the notable successes of the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), which was also a joint NASA-JAXA activity.

The project is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and consists of a GPM Core Observatory satellite assisted by a constellation of spacecraft from other agencies and missions. The Core Observatory satellite measures the two and three dimensional structure of Earth’s precipitation patterns and provides a new calibration standard for the rest of the satellite constellation. The GPM Core Observatory was assembled and tested at Goddard Space Flight Center, and launched from Tanegashima Space Center, Japan, on a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-IIA rocket. The launch occurred on February 28, 2014 at 3:37am JST on the first attempt. Agencies in the United States, Japan, India and France (together with Eumetsat) operate the remaining satellites in the constellation for agency-specific goals, but also cooperatively provide data for GPM.

Goddard Institute for Space Studies

The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) is a laboratory in the Earth Sciences Division of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and a unit of the Columbia University Earth Institute. The institute is located at Columbia University in New York City.

Research at the GISS emphasizes a broad study of Global Change; the natural and anthropogenic changes in our environment that affect the habitability of our planet. These effects may occur on greatly differing time scales, from one-time forcings such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal/annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages.

The institute's research combines analysis of comprehensive global datasets, (derived from surface stations combined with satellite data for SSTs), with global models of atmospheric, land surface, and oceanic processes. Study of past climate change on Earth and of other planetary atmospheres provides an additional tool in assessing our general understanding of the atmosphere and its evolution.GISS was established in May 1961 by Robert Jastrow to do basic research in space sciences in support of Goddard programs. Formally the institute was the New York City office of the GSFC Theoretical Division but was known as the Goddard Space Flight Center Institute for Space Studies or in some publications as simply the Institute for Space Studies. But even before it opened, the institute had been referred to in the press as the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. It was separated from the Theoretical Division in July 1962. Its offices were originally located in The Interchurch Center, and the institute moved into Columbia's Armstrong Hall (formerly the Ostend apartments and then the Oxford Residence Hotel) in April 1966.

From 1981 to 2013, GISS was directed by James E. Hansen. In June 2014, Gavin A. Schmidt was named the institute's third director.

History of the Goddard Space Flight Center

Goddard Space Flight Center is NASA's first, and oldest, space center. It is named after Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the father of modern rocketry. Throughout its history, the center has managed, developed, and operated many notable missions, including the Cosmic Background Explorer, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

John C. Mather

John Cromwell Mather (born August 7, 1946, Roanoke, Virginia) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE) with George Smoot.

This work helped cement the big-bang theory of the universe. According to the Nobel Prize committee, "the COBE-project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science."Mather is a senior astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland and adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. In 2007, Mather was listed among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World. In October, 2012, he was listed again by Time magazine in a special issue on New Space Discoveries as one of 25 most influential people in space.

Mather is also the project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a space telescope scheduled to be launched to Lagrange Point L2 in March 2021.

In 2014, Mather delivered an address on the Webb Space Telescope at the second Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands.

Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility

NASA's Independent Verification & Validation (IV&V) Program was established in 1993 as part of an agency-wide strategy to provide the highest achievable levels of safety and cost-effectiveness for mission critical software. NASA's IV&V Program was founded under the NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) as a direct result of recommendations made by the National Research Council (NRC) and the Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Since then, NASA's IV&V Program has experienced growth in personnel, projects, capabilities, and accomplishments. NASA IV&V efforts have contributed to NASA's improved safety record since the program's inception. Today, Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) is an Agency-level function, delegated from OSMA to Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and managed by NASA IV&V. NASA's IV&V Program's primary business, software IV&V, is sponsored by OSMA as a software assurance technology. Having been reassigned as GSFC, NASA IV&V is Code 180 (Center Director's direct report).

NASA's IV&V Program houses approximately 270 employees and leverages the expertise of in-house partners and contractors. Its facilities are located in Fairmont, West Virginia. In the summer, high school and college interns are employed in addition.

On February 22, 2019, the facility was renamed to the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility in honor of Katherine Johnson, an African-American woman who worked as a mathematician at NASA for 35 years and who is featured in the film Hidden Figures.

Lissette Martinez

Lissette Martinez (born 1971), is the lead electrical engineer for the Space Experiment Module program at the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) which is part of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

Marc Kuchner

Marc Kuchner (born August 7, 1972) is an American astrophysicist, a staff member at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) known for work on images and imaging of disks and exoplanets. Together with Wesley Traub, he invented the band-limited coronagraph, a design for the proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) telescope, also to be used on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). He is also known for his novel supercomputer models of planet-disk interactions and for developing the ideas of ocean planets, carbon planets, and Helium planets. Kuchner appears as an expert commentator in the National Geographic television show "Alien Earths" and frequently answers the "Ask Astro" questions in Astronomy Magazine. He currently serves as the principal investigator of the popular citizen science websites Disk Detective and Backyard Worlds.

Near Earth Network

The Near Earth Network (NEN, formerly GN or Ground Network) provides orbital communications support for near-Earth orbiting customer platforms via various NASA ground stations.

NASA's NEN consists of ground stations in:

Merritt Island Launch Annex (MILA) and Ponce de Leon Ground Station (PDL), Florida[1]

McMurdo, Antarctica

Wallops Island, VirginiaAlso under contract are operators at Svalbard Satellite Station, Norway; Poker Flat Research Range and the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) in Fairbanks, Alaska; Santiago, Chile; South Point, Hawaii; North Pole, Alaska; and Dongara, Australia. Additionally, the MILA and Wallops stations provide pre-launch, launch, and landing communications support for the Space Shuttle program. The NEN and SN combined were previously referred to as the Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network (STDN).

Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

The Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, previously called the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission, is a NASA space telescope designed to detect gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). It was launched on November 20, 2004, aboard a Delta II rocket. Headed by principal investigator Neil Gehrels, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the mission was developed in a joint partnership between Goddard and an international consortium from the United States, United Kingdom, and Italy. The mission is operated by Pennsylvania State University as part of NASA's Medium Explorers program (MIDEX).

Orlando Figueroa

Orlando Figueroa (born September 9, 1955), previously the NASA Mars Czar Director for Mars Exploration and the Director for the Solar System Division in the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters and the Deputy Center Director for Science and Technology of the Goddard Space Flight Center. He has since retired in 2010 from NASA.

Planetary Data System

The Planetary Data System (PDS) is a distributed data system that NASA uses to archive data collected by Solar System missions.

The PDS is an active archive that makes available well documented, peer reviewed planetary data to the research community. The data comes from orbital, landed and robotic missions and ground-based support data associated with those missions. It is managed by NASA Headquarters' Planetary Sciences Division.

Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer

The Solar Anomalous and Magnetospheric Particle Explorer (SAMPEX) was a NASA solar and magnetospheric observatory, and was the first spacecraft in the Small Explorer program. It was launched into low Earth orbit on July 3, 1992, from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Scout G-1 rocket. SAMPEX was an international collaboration between NASA of the United States and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics of Germany.The spacecraft carried four instruments designed to measure the anomalous components of cosmic rays, emissions from solar energetic particles, and electron counts in Earth's magnetosphere. Built for a three-year mission, its science mission was ended on June 30, 2004. Mission control for SAMPEX was handled by the Goddard Space Flight Center until October 1997, after which it was turned over to the Bowie State University Satellite Operations Control Center (BSOCC). BSOCC, with funding assistance from The Aerospace Corporation, continued to operate the spacecraft after its science mission ended, using the spacecraft as an educational tool for its students while continuing to release science data to the public.Built for a three-year primary mission, the spacecraft continued to return science data until its reentry on November 13, 2012.

Space Network

Space Network (SN) is a NASA program that combines space and ground elements to support spacecraft communications in Earth vicinity. The SN Project Office at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) manages the SN, which consists of:

The geosynchronous Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS),

Supporting ground terminal systems,

The Bilateration Ranging and Transponder System (BRTS),

Merritt Island Launch Annex (MILA) relay,

Network Control Center Data System (NCCDS).

Spacecraft Magnetic Test Facility

The Spacecraft Magnetic Test Facility, also known historically as the Attitude Control Test Facility, is an experimental spacecraft test facility at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, United States. It was built in 1966 to allow the evaluation of magnetic movement in manned and unmanned spacecraft, and for the precision calibration of magnetometers used in space flight. The building is constructed of non-magnetic materials and contains a magnetic coil system that allows the cancellation of the Earth's magnetic field. This unique building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1985.The facility is currently managed by the Goddard Mechanical Systems Division.

Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope

The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a NASA infrared space observatory currently under development. WFIRST was recommended in 2010 by United States National Research Council Decadal Survey committee as the top priority for the next decade of astronomy. On February 17, 2016, WFIRST was approved for development and launch.WFIRST is based on an existing 2.4 m wide field-of-view telescope and will carry two scientific instruments. The Wide-Field Instrument is a 288-megapixel multi-band near-infrared camera, providing a sharpness of images comparable to that achieved by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) over a 0.28 square degree field of view, 100 times larger than that of the HST. The Coronagraphic Instrument is a high-contrast, small field-of-view camera and spectrometer covering visible and near-infrared wavelengths using novel starlight-suppression technology.

The design of WFIRST is based on one of the proposed designs for the Joint Dark Energy Mission between NASA and DOE. WFIRST adds some extra capabilities to the original JDEM proposal, including a search for extra-solar planets using gravitational microlensing. In its present incarnation (2015), a large fraction of its primary mission will be focused on probing the expansion history of the Universe and the growth of cosmic structure with multiple methods in overlapping redshift ranges, with the goal of precisely measuring the effects of dark energy, the consistency of general relativity, and the curvature of spacetime.

On February 12, 2018, development on the WFIRST mission was proposed to be terminated in the President's FY19 budget request, due to a reduction in the overall NASA astrophysics budget and higher priorities elsewhere in the agency. In March 2018 Congress approved funding to continue making progress on WFIRST until at least September 30, 2018, in a bill stating that Congress "rejects the cancellation of scientific priorities recommended by the National Academy of Sciences decadal survey process". In testimony before Congress in July 2018, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine proposed slowing down the development of WFIRST in order to accommodate a cost increase in the James Webb Space Telescope, which would result in decreased funding for WFIRST in 2020/2021.

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