A visit to NASA – s Goddard Space Flight Center


Astrophysics Source Code Library

Making codes discoverable since 1999

A visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Although I was born in Washington, DC and have spent most of my life in its Maryland suburbs, yesterday was my first time on the Goddard campus (aside from its Visitor Center, which I’ve been to many times), this despite having two family members and many friends who used to 1 or do work there. I was excited! And I had a great reason for going: I was presenting a talk to the Astrophysics Science Division titled “Make your research software famous! (or at least discoverable).” The talk, broadcast on a NASA UStream channel and recorded for future viewing, 2 covered a bit about our research on source code availability in astronomy, and also covered our current project to make NASA astro research software more discoverable, what the Astrophysics Source Code Library is and how it improves research transparency, software citation, and recent changes in publishing with regard to software that, combined with other changes in the community and science in general, make it easier than ever before to make one’s astro research software discoverable. The slides I presented are available for download (PDF), and links to different resources, journals, and organizations that I mentioned in the talk are also available.

Kristin Rutkowski, along with Tess Jaffe and Alex Reustle, hosted my visit to GSFC; I had met both Kristin and Tess at last year’s ADASS conference in College Park, where we had our first conversation about my visiting the site to talk about the ASCL. Yesterday’s audience was great; they were involved and asked a lot of excellent questions, about copyright, code authors not receiving credit for the software they write, how we handle dead links, mutable author lists, NASA policies regarding software release, and how the ASCL is funded. Some of the questions came from people attending remotely and were asked online; Alex made sure these were covered, too. Alex is also involved in making the video of the talk available online, and when it is available, I’ll update this post with its link.

Space Environment Simulator

After my presentation, Kristin and Tess took me to see some of the NASA labs and equipment, including the Space Environment Simulator Facility, the JWST/OTIS Vibration Test System, the currently out-of-service High Capacity Centrifuge, and the Acoustic Test Cell. We went through doors marked “Authorized Personnel Only”!! This is one of the perqs of working on the ASCL — I become “Authorized Personnel” when visiting telescopes and labs and such, which, to me, is very cool and exciting! Sure, it’s only for a few minutes and always in the company of others who have far more business being there than I do, but still: very cool and exciting!! After looking at these labs and equipment, Kristin and I said goodbye to Tess, and then drove over to see dinosaur footprints that had been found on the Goddard campus. (Could a visit anywhere be any cooler. )

Dinosaur and small mammal tracks

Science science everywhere! I had a great time at Goddard, and thank Alex and Tess and especially Kristin for hosting my visit!

1 Happy retirement day, Janie!
2 No, that’s not nerve-wracking at all, so long as one doesn’t think about it.

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