Nasa Blueshift



Welcome to Blueshift, produced by the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Since 2007, Blueshift has been your "backstage pass" to science, missions and personnel here at Goddard, with a focus on the Universe beyond the solar system. We'll fill you in on groundbreaking discoveries, innovative technology, new missions, and other exciting stories. Visit us online at or follow us on Twitter or Facebook as NASABlueshift!


  • Blueshift - October 6, 2015: Spontaneous Complexity

    06/10/2015 Duração: 12min

    Jasmin Evans is an undergraduate student in astronomy and physics at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. She shadowed us for the week and while she was here, she interviewed Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather for our podcast. She talked to him about what lead him to science, what advice he would give to those young people currently trying to decide in which direction they should take their careers, and (of course) about JWST.

  • Blueshift - September 26, 2013: Finding Herschel

    26/09/2013 Duração: 15min

    In July, we featured a guest post on our blog from astronomer Nick Howes about how he was able to image the Herschel observatory, which sat a million miles away from the Earth at the 2nd Lagrange point (and is now being moved into a graveyard orbit). For this podcast, we interviewed him about the back story about how he imaged Herschel, the telescopes he used, and what got him into astronomy.

  • Blueshift - September 9, 2013: "How We Learn," Part 4 of our interview with Dr. Phil Plait

    09/09/2013 Duração: 07min

    This is the last part of our interview with Dr. Phil Plait, the so-called "Bad Astronomer." Phil is a scientist who now writes about science for the public, with a large focus on debunking bad science and astronomy. In this podcast, we talk with Phil about how science works, and how we learn.

  • Blueshift - June 26, 2013: "Go outside and look up!," Part 3 of our interview with Dr. Phil Plait

    26/06/2013 Duração: 09min

    This is part three of four of our interview with Dr. Phil Plait, the so-called "Bad Astronomer." Phil is a scientist, writer, and specializes in debunking bad science. In part 1, we learned how he got started, and in part 2, we talked about science in entertainment. In part 3, we discuss how he busts misconceptions, and the value of looking up at the sky.

  • Blueshift - May 29, 2013: Ring around the Exoplanet

    29/05/2013 Duração: 11min

    A college friend of Maggie's, Dr. Eric Mamajek, discovered a cool potential exoplanet system that might also have a ring system - we reported on it last January after the American Astronomical Society conference. We checked with Eric a year later to talk more about his discovery, any updates, and the art done of his potential exoplanet system by Ron Miller, who we also recently interviewed in our two-part series about "The Art of Space." Visit our website ( to see Ron's visualization of the exoplanet system discussed in this episode.

  • Blueshift - May 15, 2013: The Art of Space, Part 2

    15/05/2013 Duração: 12min

    This is the second episode of our two-part interview with space artist Ron Miller. In this episode, Ron talks specifically about how he illustrates exoplanets, and we discuss specific pieces of his art. To listen to the first part of this interview, and to see examples of Ron's art, visit our website at:

  • Blueshift - May 6, 2013: The Art of Space, Part 1

    06/05/2013 Duração: 11min

    Blueshift recently interviewed space artist Ron Miller. Not only is he an amazingly talented illustrator, but he’s also the author, consultant, and former art director for the National Air and Space Museum's Albert Einstein planetarium. He's written and illustrated many books, one of which, "Out of the Cradle," is a classic and a huge inspiration to our generation. We recently came across his art illustrating a news article about an unusual exoplanet system which might actually have a ring system like Saturn's. This led us to Ron and resulted in a two-part podcast all about his extraordinary work. This is part 1. You'll find examples of Ron's art on our website at:

  • Blueshift - April 25, 2013: Studying Simulated Stardust

    25/04/2013 Duração: 10min

    Dust - on Earth, it's a nuisance. But in space, it's a valuable natural resource, a raw material essential to the formation of nearly any object imaginable. NASA Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Christina Richey studies interstellar dust grains through laboratory-created analogs, comparing the properties of simulated stardust to data from missions like SOFIA, Spitzer, and Herschel. This hands-on approach gives Christina and other researchers unique insight into the building blocks of stars, planets, and even life. This research complements observational data, computer simulations, and other studies of how objects form and work in space. In this interview, Blueshift spoke to Christina about her research as well as her adventures outside the lab, looking for life in exceptionally hostile environments.

  • Blueshift - December 20, 2012: Hubble's Scientific Successor

    20/12/2012 Duração: 10min

    As you might imagine, the James Webb Space Telescope is a pretty big deal here at NASA Goddard, because much of it is being assembled here. As a companion to all our tech coverage of Webb, we thought it would be nice to talk about the science it will do and how it is the scientific successor to, rather than the replacement for, the Hubble Space Telescope. We chatted with Dr. Amber Straughn, one of the project scientists on Webb, to learn about what this new observatory will bring to the scientific community. We also talked about Amber’s own research, how she uses Hubble data, and what she hopes to get out of Webb data in the future.

  • Blueshift - December 4, 2012: Science in a Nutshell, Part 2 of our interview with Dr. Phil Plait

    04/12/2012 Duração: 06min

    As science educators, encouraging critical thinking and skepticism is something we think is really important. We interviewed the "Bad Astronomer," Dr. Phil Plait, to get his thoughts on the subject. He is a trained scientist who used to work at NASA Goddard... but now he works full-time as a science writer and a public advocate for good science. In Part 1 of our interview with Phil, we learned why he started blogging about hoaxes and misconceptions, about the importance of asking "why," and ended with the start of an intriguing discussion about how the trend today in entertainment is for scientists to actually be the heroes and the good guys. This podcast is Part 2 of our interview (with two more to come), in which Phil shares his experiences with the TV shows The Big Bang Theory and Mythbusters, and tells us why he gets such joy out of teaching people about how great science is.

  • Blueshift - October 12, 2012: NuStar: NASA's Newest X-Ray Eyes

    12/10/2012 Duração: 07min

    It's an exciting experience for any space geek to watch a new satellite launch into orbit. Earlier in 2012, we were excited about the launch of NuSTAR, a small explorer X-ray mission collaboratively created by teams at Caltech, NASA, and over a dozen other institutions around the world. NuSTAR advances the international astronomical community's ability to observe some of the hottest, densest, and most energetic objects in the Universe. We were interested to find out more about NASA Goddard's involvement in the mission, so we interviewed post-doc Dr. Dan Wik about his work with the satellite's optics and his interest in observing galaxy clusters with NuSTAR.

  • Blueshift - September 10, 2012: Keeping Skepticism Alive, Part 1 of our interview with Dr. Phil Plait

    10/09/2012 Duração: 09min

    At its heart, science is about asking questions - looking at the universe around us and asking, "How? Why?" Science takes our natural curiosity and adds structure and rigor, examining things methodically to answer our questions and ask the next ones. It's not just a field of study, it's a valuable way to think about the world around you. In this first part in a series, well-known science advocate Dr. Phil Plait talks about his background, how he came to be "The Bad Astronomer," why he blogs about misconceptions, and how to keep good skepticism alive.

  • Blueshift - May 21, 2012: Astrophysicist to the Stars, Dr. David Saltzberg

    21/05/2012 Duração: 08min

    In a follow-up to our previous interviews with co-creator of "The Big Bang Theory," Bill Prady, we interviewed Dr. David Saltzberg, the show's resident astrophysicist and science consultant. Find out more about his research, adventures in astrophysics, and how he keeps the science of the show fresh, real, and accurate. For more, visit our website!

  • Blueshift - November 15, 2010: When Science Inspires Comedy

    15/11/2010 Duração: 10min

    One of the bonuses of our set visit to The Big Bang Theory was that we got the chance to talk to co-creator and executive producer Bill Prady about how the show came to be, and how they get the science right in every episode. Since much of what we do is about communicating science to the public, we were naturally interested in how real science was worked into what is primarily a comedy. To supplement our podcast interview with Bill, Blueshift's Maggie Masetti wrote a web feature for

  • Blueshift - May 20, 2010: In the AstroZone

    21/05/2010 Duração: 09min

    Wouldn't it be exciting to do astronomy in the Amazon, surrounded by the wild plants and animals of the rainforest? In January, visitors to the AstroZone event in Washington, DC, got to do something like that - they met dozens of astronomy professionals at the National Zoo's Amazonia exhibit! AstroZone is a special public event that's offered in conjunction with each meeting of the American Astronomical Society (the major professional organization for astronomers). For one afternoon, astronomers share their passion for the Universe with the local public with hands-on activities, goodies, and other special opportunities. We talked to some of the exhibitors at the event in DC, and we wanted to share their exciting science with you. The next AstroZone event is this weekend in Miami, Florida - if that's your hometown, come check it out at the Miami Dade Main Public Library on May 22nd!

  • Blueshift - April 30, 2010: At the Edge of Space

    30/04/2010 Duração: 08min

    When you were a kid, dreaming of the future, did you expect to have a flying car someday? Or to live on the Moon? Traveling into space has fueled the dreams of many people, but the reality is that space flight is difficult and expensive. Though escaping Earth's gravity to reach orbit is a real challenge, it is much easier and less expensive to take sub-orbital flights - that is, those that reach an altitude of 100 km (approximately 62 miles) above Earth. This may prove to be an affordable way for scientists to do science in space, especially with the technology to do these getting close to being ready for use. One of our scientists, Joe Hill, builds x-ray and gamma ray instruments... and she also wants to be an astronaut. Recently, she was given the opportunity to participate in sub-orbital scientist training, which took her one step closer to realizing her dream of going into space.

  • Blueshift - March 1, 2010: First Light, Last Paycheck?

    03/03/2010 Duração: 13min

    Working at NASA can provide unique and exciting job opportunities. It can be the chance of a lifetime to work on a satellite and see the products of your hard work launched into space. The flip side is that many projects only span a few years, so your dream job may not last forever. Many of us change projects routinely - and also have to deal with some level of uncertainty concerning employment. There are, however, some long-running projects at NASA - and the Hubble Space Telescope is one of them. HST was carried into orbit nearly twenty years ago, and it has been serviced by astronauts four times. Each repair of Hubble called for specialized skills that may or may not be applicable elsewhere. With Servicing Mission 4 successfully complete, we wanted to find out what the people who spent years (and perhaps their entire careers) on Hubble were doing now that the final servicing mission is done.

  • Blueshift - January 31, 2010: A Meeting of the Minds

    29/01/2010 Duração: 06min

    Professional meetings are a part of the lives of most scientists - but what actually goes on at one of these? It's not just sitting in meetings and listening to talks! These meetings offer an opportunity to share exciting results, catch up with old friends, and pick up some goodies in the exhibit hall. The Blueshift team team attended the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in January and we thought we'd give you a tour of what we were doing there. Because what happens at a professional meeting... ends up on Blueshift! Check out our gallery of photos, too!

  • Blueshift - January 19, 2010: Science at the End of the Earth, Part II

    19/01/2010 Duração: 06min

    A remote research outpost like McMurdo Station in Antarctica draws many different kinds of people - scientists, engineers, writers, artists, and more. The station provides many of the comforts of home, and it's difficult to get bored with the opportunities presented during a visit. Whether it's learning to drive the special ice-friendly vehicles or participating in a chili cook-off, visitors often find themselves embarking on adventures and picking up unusual skills outside the scope of their own area of expertise. In our last episode, we interviewed Dr. John Mitchell about scientific ballooning in Antarctica and his experiences launching his experiment, BESS, in 2004 and 2007. But what's it like to spend a summer on the southernmost continent? In the second part of this interview, Dr. Mitchell tells us about the unique experiences he's had at McMurdo during his visits.

  • Blueshift - December 31, 2009: Science at the End of the Earth, Part I

    31/12/2009 Duração: 07min

    Hunting for antimatter requires a serious expedition. Scientists aren't looking for run-of-the-mill particles - they're collecting cosmic radiation that could be the signature of primordial black holes or other forms of dark matter. With instruments suspended from enormous scientific balloons, they're looking for a launch site that offers long orbits and lots of particles to detect. Where's one of the best places in the world to go particle hunting? Over the remote Antarctic continent! To find out more about Antarctic scientific ballooning, we talked to Dr. John Mitchell, the lead scientist on BESS (the Balloon-borne Experiment with a Superconducting Spectrometer), a joint Japanese/US project that is studying antimatter in cosmic radiation. BESS has flown twice from Antarctica, and a team is headed back this month to recover their detectors from the last flight. We caught Dr. Mitchell just before he left for his latest Antarctic adventure. And no, the last name is not a coincidence - Dr. Mitchell is Bl

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