NASA s Goddard Space Flight Center: Exploring Earth and space by remote control, Space

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center: Exploring Earth and space by remote control

Reference article: Facts about the Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is the nation’s largest organization of space scientists and engineers, according to the agency’s website. With a main campus just northeast of Washington, D.C., in Greenbelt, Maryland, GSFC has managed or played key roles in hundreds of NASA missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Landsat satellites, the Parker Solar Probe and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) network.

GSFC also manages several installations in other locations, including:

  • The Wallops Flight Facility on Viriginia’s eastern shore — a launching site for suborbital rockets, research balloons and research aircraft.
  • The Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City — a hub for climate research.
  • The Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in Fairmont, West Virginia, where computer programs for space missions are tested.
  • The White Sands Complex in New Mexico — one of the ground stations for the TDRS network.

A visitor center at the Greenbelt campus welcomes the public and operates educational programs, and a visitor center at Wallops provides viewing for launches as well as educational exhibits and programs.

A new research center for the space age

GSFC was founded shortly after NASA itself, in late 1958. As Alfred Rosenthal explained in his 1968 publication “Venture Into Space: Early Years of Goddard Space Flight Center” (NASA, 1968), GSFC provided an institutional base for experts from military projects, such as the Navy’s Vanguard satellite program and the Army’s work on space communication, who were being transferred to the new civilian space agency. The Center was also assigned a long list of other duties, including theoretical research, development of instruments to fly in space, interpretation of scientific results from flight programs and administration of contracts.

In contrast to some other NASA centers, such as Glenn and Langley, which were based on established aeronautical facilities, Goddard was created specifically to work on space research.

Construction of the new center began in 1959 on land formerly owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In March 1961, the center was formally dedicated and named in honor of American rocket pioneer Robert H. Goddard, 35 years after he launched the first successful liquid-fueled rocket in Auburn, Massachusetts.

Today, according to the Center’s website, the main Goddard campus comprises more than 34 buildings on a campus occupying 1,270 acres. All the Goddard installations, combined, employ more than 10,000 people, the Center stated in its 2018 annual report.

Notable early achievements

A NASA chronology of Goddard missions lists 104 launches in its first decade (1959-1969), including 40 Explorer satellites to measure the space environment surrounding Earth, 10 TIROS weather satellites, five Orbiting Solar Observatories, three Syncom communications satellites, five Orbiting Geophysical Observatories, eight ESSA cloud-photography satellites, two Orbiting Astronomical Observatories and four Applications Technology Satellites. A variety of technical problems affected some of these early missions, but the majority were successful.

Goddard’s early Explorer satellites ushered in the new field of space physics by measuring Earth’s magnetic field, and showing how Earth’s magnetic field deflects most solar wind particles around the Earth while trapping some particles in the Van Allen radiation belts.

Teams at Goddard managed the 1960 launch of the very first communications satellite — a huge mylar balloon called Echo that reflected radio transmissions back to Earth, as well as the first international space satellites: Ariel, in collaboration with the United Kingdom, and Alouette I, with Canada, both in 1962. Ariel and Alouette pioneered a “no exchange of funds” type of partnership, in which the partners contribute services and equipment to a project, but none of the partners pays any of the others with money. This arrangement is used to this day in projects such as the International Space Station.

Goddard engineers organized the creation of the Delta rocket as a vehicle to launch small to medium-size payloads into Earth orbit, and used it for many of Goddard’s early launches. Among many later variations on the design, the Delta II became an “industry workhorse,” with 155 launches from 1989 to 2018, according to Boeing.

The key to it all: communication

A satellite in low Earth orbit spends only a few minutes within range of any one tracking station, so many stations are needed to keep in touch with a craft throughout one orbit. As NASA historian Lane Wallace explains in her book “Dreams, Hopes, Realties,” (NASA, 1999), over the decades, Goddard has organized a series of worldwide networks of antennas on Earth to communicate with spacecraft in orbit, setting an example of international cooperation on technical projects.

Goddard’s Minitrack network, created for the very first satellites starting in the 1950s, led to the Mercury Space Flight Network of the 1960s, with seven ground stations and two ships at sea communicating with solo astronauts in Mercury capsules. Communication between ground stations depended on telephone lines, which could fail. So, during Project Gemini, which sent two-man crews into orbit in the mid-1960s, Goddard maintained a backup mission-control center that could take over from Houston if necessary.

To handle the big data downloads from the first robotic space observatories, Goddard set up a new Satellite Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN), with antenna dishes up to 85 feet (25 meters) wide in 21 locations around the world. Goddard’s Applications Technology satellites (ATS) demonstrated the concept of using satellites in orbit to relay messages between spacecraft and Earth stations. ATS led to TDRSS, the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, which now includes 10 satellites in geosynchronous orbits providing near-continuous communication with the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other spacecraft.

Goddard also manages the Near Earth Network of more than 15 worldwide commercially operated ground stations for communication with orbiting spacecraft, and the NASA Communications Network (NASCOM), which sends data between control centers. According to its 2018 annual report, Goddard is working on space communications using laser light, which can transmit more data per second than radio waves.

Earth and space in depth

Starting in the 1970s, Goddard’s work grew to include deeper views into space and closer examination of Earth using robotic spacecraft.

Orbiting solar observatories watched the sun in ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray light that can’t be seen from observatories on the ground because those wavelengths are blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. The Solar Max satellite observed solar flares and was also repaired by space shuttle astronauts in 1984, paving the way for future on-orbit servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Uhuru satellite, developed at Goddard, launched in 1970 and discovered Cygnus X-1, the first observed object thought to contain a black hole. Uhuru’s project manager at Goddard, Marjorie Townsend, was the first woman to manage a NASA satellite project.

Other Goddard satellites sensitive to X-rays and gamma-rays established the link between galaxies and mysterious powerful sources of light called quasars. The satellites also analyzed the gas in clusters of galaxies, found new pulsars and discovered gamma-ray bursts.

Another of Goddard’s accomplishments was the International Ultraviolet Explorer satellite, which launched in 1978 and featured a new type of stabilizing gyroscope that was later used on the Hubble Space Telescope. The satellite also demonstrated a new “transparent” software system, allowing guest astronomers to use the telescope.

The Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, launched in 1989, made the first precise measurement of the cosmic microwave background, also known as the afterglow from the Big Bang. GSFC scientist John Mather shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for the project.

Early weather satellites flew in relatively low Earth orbits, able to photograph a particular geographical region only when they passed over it. In 1975, GSFC developed the first Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), which flew in a high orbit that kept it almost stationary above the longitude of North America. The GOES series has progressed through several generations of improvements, leading to the GOES-16 and GOES-17 satellites monitoring the Western Hemisphere today. The GOES satellites, once built and launched, are turned over to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for daily operation.

An early Goddard geosynchronous satellite, ATS-3, took the first space-based color photograph of an entire hemisphere of Earth in 1967. And an instrument on Goddard’s Nimbus 7 confirmed the existence of an ozone “hole” over Antarctica in 1985.

Recent past, present and future

  • A centrifuge than can subject 5,000 lbs. (2,268 kilograms) of spacecraft hardware to 30 g.
  • A reverberation chamber that can generate up to 150 decibels of sound, subjecting hardware to the noise levels of a rocket launch.
  • A Space Environment Chamber that can achieve a wide range of vacuum and thermal conditions.
  • The Spacecraft Magnetic Test Facility, with a magnetic coil system that can cancel Earth’s magnetic field.
  • The High Bay Clean Room, suitable for final assembly of a spacecraft, the largest of its kind in the world, with a volume of 1.3 million cubic feet (36,800 cubic meters).

Goddard has a hand in more than 50 current space flight projects. Among them, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter both have their mission control centers on the GSFC campus. Two currently operating Mars probes, Curiosity and MAVEN, carry Goddard-developed science instruments. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which has been searching for planets around other stars since 2018, is under Goddard management.

Goddard missions being prepared for launch include Landsat 9, the latest in a series of Earth-monitoring satellites going back to 1972; the James Webb Space Telescope (in collaboration with the European and Canadian space agencies); Lucy, a mission to explore the Trojan asteroids that accompany Jupiter; and WFIRST (Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope), which should image large areas of the sky 1,000 times faster than Hubble.

If you’ve seen a particularly beautiful animation of how a solar eclipse works or what makes the moon’s phases, it may well have come from Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio, which produces still images and animations based on data collected by NASA missions.

Wallops: Small and adventurous

Relatively small rockets, called sounding rockets, fly up to altitudes from 62 to 870 miles (100 to 1400 kilometers) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, in Wallops Island, Virginia. Wallops originated as a missile test facility at the end of World War II and was put under Goddard management in 1981.

Sounding rockets provide an economical way to test space instruments and study regions of space that cannot be reached with aircraft, balloons or orbiting spacecraft. By the end of 2018, Wallops had hosted over 116,000 launches, according to Goddard’s 2018 annual report.

Adjacent to NASA’s operations on Wallops Island is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), where Antares rockets have launched Cygnus cargo modules to the International Space Station. MARS is operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

GISS: Climate research in New York City

The Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) was established in NASA’s early days under the directorship of physicist Robert Jastrow, who had been doing theoretical work for the Naval Research Laboratory’s Vanguard satellite program in the 1950s.

When the Vanguard team was incorporated into the new NASA Goddard center, Jastrow convinced NASA managers that the theoretical research division should be located near major research universities to attract academic researchers. In 1961, GISS began operating in offices in New York City near Columbia University.

In the late 1960s, GISS moved a few blocks to the building it now occupies. This building later became famous because its ground floor includes Tom’s Restaurant, the regular hangout of characters on the “Seinfeld” TV series.

During its early years, under Jastrow, the institute concentrated on astrophysics and planetary science. Under James Hansen, director from 1981 to 2013, and his successor, Gavin Schmidt, GISS research has turned to climate change and other global aspects of Earth’s environment.

Additional resources:

  • Take a 360-degree virtual tour of the Hubble Control Center at Goddard.
  • Watch the complex, weaving trajectory planned for the Lucy spacecraft.
  • Read a summary of astronomers’ research priorities for the decade of the 2010s.

Goddard space flight center – Baltimore Sun

goddard space flight center

The Westminster Astronomical Society will be hosting a special guest at its Oct. 10 club meeting — John Mather, a senior astrophysicist at the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and senior project scientist for NASA’s James Webb space telescope.

President Donald Trump proposed a $4.4 trillion budget Monday that reinforced his administration’s desire to slash money for the Chesapeake Bay and drastically reduce the federal workforce while maintaining research funding at the National Institutes of Health.

NASA said Wednesday it has chosen two finalists for solar system exploration: A Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory plan to visit Saturn’s moon Titan, and a proposal for a comet probe that would be managed by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The complexity of assembling the James Webb Space Telescope has prompted NASA to delay launch of the Hubble Space Telescope successor by five months, to March 2019.

Originally, Ed Gaddy just wanted an environmentally friendly house. But that vision grew, and Gaddy’s Clarksville home is a national prototype for energy efficiency and eco-friendly design.

Nieves-Chinchilla was one of 22 people from 16 countries who took the Oath of Allegiance for naturalized citizens in a ceremony at the William Paca House on Tuesday morning. It was the 12th year that Annapolis has held a naturalization ceremony on the Fourth of July and dozens of local residents wearing red, white and blue joined the families and friends of the new citizens to watch.

When the James Webb Space Telescope looks toward the farthest reaches of the universe, its directions will come from a glass-encased room of computer monitors that looks out on leafy Wyman Park.

The James Webb Telescope is ready to leave the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where the core of the observatory was constructed, and move on to the next phase in its journey to space.

The deep spending cuts called for in President Donald Trump’s federal budget proposal would fall on two space programs with ties to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, both of which have implications for climate science.

The deep spending cuts called for in President Donald Trump’s federal budget proposal would fall on two space programs with ties to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, both of which have implications for climate science.

Testing of the James Webb Space Telescope has resumed at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center after a glitch caused a more than six-week delay.

Twenty years ago, scientists laid out a wish list for a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Today, an observatory befitting that description is awaiting its final tests at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

A union that represents workers at the Goddard Space Flight Center is criticizing Rep. Donna F. Edwards’ handling of a racial complaint they said they raised years ago with her congressional office but received little response.

James P. Boyle, who had a 40-year career at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center creating and maintaining sophisticated systems, died Feb. 14 of vascular dementia at Copper Ridge, a Sykesville assisted-living facility. He was 76.

The strongest El Nino in nearly two decades could help scientists answer questions about climate forecasting and weather disasters going forward.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Reviews, Glassdoor

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Reviews

Your trust is our top concern, so companies can’t alter or remove reviews.

” There was a nice work environment and a lot of collaboration ” (in 21 reviews)

” The mentors care about your work; the work-life balance seems to be good ” (in 15 reviews)

” Arrogant older employees who treat workers with ” (in 9 reviews)

” Many workers don’t work very hard once becoming a civil servant ” (in 7 reviews)

“Fun work environment but low pay as a contractor”

I have been working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center full-time for more than a year

– Fun work environment – Meaningful projects

– “flex time” is most times thrown away by the end of pay period – Contractors treated as if they were lower class

“Jobs Program”

I worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center full-time for more than 5 years

-Job security -Friendly work environment -no dress code or standards -some projects allow innovation and are great to work on -some good people fight the bureaucracy and actually get stuff done -Best place to work if you’re lazy and and want to collect a dependable paycheck

“Not a good place to work”

I have been working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center full-time

None, there is not a good place to work

Everyone is a manager there

“Great place to work”

I have been working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center full-time for more than 10 years

Unique high technology work, work flexibility, great benefits.

Government bureaucracy is sometimes hard to navigate through..

“Great place”

I worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center full-time

Benefits stability benefits stability benifits


I worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center full-time for more than 10 years

I loved my job and did it well

If you have a supervisor who doesn’t like you, NASA Goddard will enable it. They feel that they have no right to stop criminal behavior as long as it does not involve a government employee, I suffered 17 years of flagrant abuse and Goddard knew about it the whole time and did nothing to stop it.

“It All Depends”

I have been working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center full-time for more than 5 years

flexibility, great work life balance, relaxed work environment

hard to move around to different projects, eventually will feel stuck somewhere you do not want to be, you have to seek out promotions yourself even though you are entitled to one after a year but management will not tell you, hard for black employees to gain credit they deserve

“Full cost accounting + large retirement age staff = nope”

I worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center full-time for more than a year

The pay is okay for the area given that it’s a GS job.

> 60% of the civil servant employee base are retirement eligible. Full cost accounting means that the early career scientists have to hustle writing grant proposals for their paychecks while the scientist who have been around for awhile just get charge codes for nebulous “work”.

“Fun program!”

I worked at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for less than a year

-There were plenty of opportunities for enrichment outside of your internship (talks, tours, everyone was really excited to talk to interns for informational interviews). -Tons of other interns -Pretty unbeatable on a resumé.

-My internship supervisor was way too busy for me and I had trouble getting a hold of him. -I was bored extremely often because my supervisor was so MIA. I don’t think that many other interns had this issue however.

NASA Administrator Names Director for Goddard Space Flight Center – Parabolic Arc

NASA Administrator Names Director for Goddard Space Flight Center

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has named Dennis Andrucyk director of its Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, effective immediately. Andrucyk has been serving as the acting director of Goddard since Dec. 31.

“I look forward to working with fellow Terp Dennis Andrucyk in his new role as the director of the Goddard Space Flight Center. We are glad to have him back in Greenbelt,” said Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. “Strong, thoughtful leadership at Goddard is essential for its 10,000-strong workforce of employees and contractors, who play such an important role in the exploration projects that are at the heart of NASA.”

Prior to becoming Goddard’s acting center director, Andrucyk was the deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. In this role, he created innovative, inclusive and diverse teams in pursuit of the nation’s science goals in astrophysics, heliophysics, Earth science and planetary exploration. Specifically, he focused on fostering new partnerships with other government agencies, academia, industry and international organizations.

“I’m pleased to join in announcing the appointment of Dennis Andrucyk to serve as the next Director of NASA Goddard. Dennis has the vision and the experience to lead the dedicated men and women at NASA Goddard and to continue building upon their successes. Goddard has been a pillar of scientific excellence, and I will keep working to ensure that it has the resources it needs to maintain and expand its vital mission,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Andrucyk also focused on streamlining policies and procedures and reducing the overhead required for achieving the agency’s scientific goals. Through working hands-on with his colleagues across the agency, he has created new processes for lower cost missions that ultimately have increased NASA’s scientific return on investment.

“I join in congratulating Dennis Andrucyk on his appointment to serve as Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. His support for the many varied missions carried out by the dedicated scientists and staff at Goddard is critically important for the success of the Center,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD-05). “I am confident his lengthy experience, including previous time spent working at Goddard, will be an asset to the institution. I look forward to working closely with Director Andrucyk to support the thousands of hardworking federal employees and contractors who work at Goddard.”

Prior to joining the Science Mission Directorate, he served as NASA’s acting chief technologist and as deputy associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate, as well as holding several positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, including the director of engineering, chief technologist, and chief of several of the Goddard engineering divisions.

“Dennis brings leadership skills to this job that are critical as NASA enters a new era of exploration,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “His experience in NASA’s science and technology spheres and his continual pursuit of excellence will serve Goddard and the agency well as we work together to return America to the Moon and then to Mars.”

Before joining NASA in 1988, Andrucyk served at the National Security Agency, Naval Research Laboratory, Westinghouse, Northrop, and General Electric. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland and has twice earned the Senior Executive Service Meritorious Presidential Rank Award. He has been awarded the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Goddard Outstanding Leadership Honor Award, and the Goddard Exceptional Achievement Award in Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity. Andrucyk actively champions efforts to develop a more diverse and inclusive workforce that encourages collaboration and partnership across NASA Science.

For information about NASA’s missions, programs, and activities, visit:

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor – s Center, Our Kids

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor’s Center

For science minded kids and adults, a chance to visit a real NASA facility can be out of this world. The Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor’s Center is located in Greenbelt, MD just minutes from the Capitol Beltway. This small facility has many hands on science experiences and a great gift shop for taking home souvenirs.

Open every day except for Mondays, the Goddard Visitor’s Center admission and parking are both free. The exhibits here are colorful and interesting to the eye, but kids who can read (or have parents willing to read to them) will get the most out of a visit here. That said, my 6 and 5 year olds with limited reading abilities had a great time. Kids can sit in a replica of a Gemini command module, get their picture taken in an astronaut cut out and play with many computers offering games, images and information in areas of Earth Systems Science, Climate Change, and Planetary Science.

The center is divided into several sections describing some of NASA’s work and programs. Visitors can learn about the Hubble Telescope, weather satellites and various planets. Aside from the experiences mentioned above the plasma globe and moon rock were of particular interest to my kids. Separate from the other exhibits is the Science on a Sphere theater, where short 5 to 15 minute shows are projected onto a large sphere in the center of the room. These movies play throughout the day during regular visiting hours.

Outside of the Visitor’s Center you can extend your trip by walking through the Rocket Garden. Here, several replicas of NASA rockets and an Apollo capsule are scattered throughout the grassy grounds. There are signs clearly posted for no climbing on these space crafts but kids can enjoy looking at them and taking some photos. Drink vending machines are located between the main building and the gift shop and there are many picnic tables scattered throughout the Rocket Garden to enjoy lunch on site. Pack a lunch if you want to take advantage of this, there are no food sales at the Visitor’s Center.

A visit to this NASA facility on an ordinary day is a great learning experience for kids and parents alike. For something extra special try scheduling your visit on the first or third Sundays of the month. On the first Sunday of the month from 1 to 2pm there is a public model rocket launch. This means you can build a model rocket and bring it to launch on their equipment or simply come to watch others launch their creations. On the third Sunday of the month (from September through May), Goddard hosts the Sunday Experiment. This program is geared towards families with elementary aged children and includes hands on experiments, Q&As with NASA scientists and engineers, and giveaways. Hours for this event are 1 to 3pm. NASA also hosts a spring science festival each year in May which brings together many science activities, shows, experiments and even moon bounces to their grounds for a day of family friendly exploration.

Blast out of your ordinary routine and head over to the Goddard Space Flight Center for an educational and entertaining afternoon of family fun.