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Goddard Space Flight Center

The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is a major NASA space research laboratory established on May 1, 1959 as NASA's first space flight center. GSFC employs approximately 10,000 civil servants and contractors, and is located approximately 6.5 miles (10.5 km) northeast of Washington, D.C. in Greenbelt, Maryland, USA. The Goddard Space Flight Center is named in recognition of Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the pioneer of modern rocket propulsion in the United States.

GSFC is the largest combined organization of scientists and engineers dedicated to increasing knowledge of the Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe via observations from space in the United States. GSFC is a major U.S. 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 spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks, 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 Explorer program, the Discovery Program, the Earth Observing System (EOS), INTEGRAL, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the 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).

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