Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Stay Connected to Your Favorite Missions

Are you always on the go, but still wanting to stay on top of the latest NASA/JPL missions and programs? Have your search engine attempts for information sources not come up with the hits you wanted? Well, search no more! If you are big into the social media Web sites—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Ustream, and blogging—then I have the sites that will turn your PC, mobile phone, iPod or PDA into a fountain of information on space and space exploration.

The missions and programs managed by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have started using social-networking Web sites to keep the public informed. NASA and JPL also has their own blogs, with posts from scientists and engineers.

Before we get to the links, let’s go over some definitions for the uninitiated.

blog – a blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. The word “blog” is a contraction of the term “weblog.” The word “blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Facebook ( – Launched February 2004, Facebook is a global social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. Users can add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Additionally, users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region. The website's name stems from the colloquial name of books given at the start of the academic year by university administrations with the intention of helping students get to know each other better. Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes while he was a student at Harvard University.

iTunes ( – iTunes is a digital media player application owned by Apple Inc. Introduced January 2001, iTunes is used for playing and organizing digital music and video files. The program is also an interface to manage the contents on Apple's popular iPod digital media players as well as the iPhone. Additionally, iTunes can connect to the iTunes Store via the Internet to purchase and download music, music videos, television shows, applications, iPod games, audiobooks, podcasts, feature length films and movie rentals (not available in all countries), and ringtones (available only in the USA). iTunes is also used to download applications for the iPhone and iPod touch running iPhone OS 2.0 or later. iTunes is available as a free download for Mac OS X, Windows Vista, and Windows XP from Apple's website. It is also bundled with all Macs, and some HP and Dell computers. Older versions are available for Mac OS 9, OS X 10.0-10.3, and Windows 2000.

MySpace ( – MySpace is a social networking website, created by Brad Greenspan and several other employees of the company then known as eUniverse. MySpace launched August 2003. Its headquarters are in Beverly Hills, California, USA, where it shares an office building with its immediate owner, Fox Interactive Media, which is owned by News Corporation.

podcast – A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and downloaded through web syndication. Unlike simple downloading or streaming, podcasts require special client software applications known as podcatchers (like iTunes, Zune, Juice, and Winamp) to automatically identify and download new files in the series when they are released. The word “podcast” is a blending of the words “iPod” and “broadcast,” and is based on the nature of downloading and listing to syndicated files one one’s iPod or other MP3 player.

RSS – Originally meaning “RDF Site Summary,” RSS has since become translated as “Rich Site Summary” and, most commonly, “Really Simple Syndication.” RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a “feed,” a “web feed,” or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. The concept of RSS began in 1995, but has changed greatly since that time because of changes in available formatting and technology.

Twitter ( – Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. While the service, itself, costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees. Twitter was creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey.

Ustream ( – Established March 2007, Ustream is a website with a network of diverse channels providing a platform for lifecasting and live video streaming of events online. The website currently has over 2,000,000 registered users who generate 1,500,000+ hours of live streamed content per month with over ten million unique hits per month.

YouTube ( – Created February 2005 by three former PayPal employees, YouTube is a video sharing website on which users can upload and share videos. YouTub, LLC is now a subsidiary of Google.

Now that we are passed that, here is a list of JPL-managed missions and projects and links to their social-networking pages.

- On Facebook:
- On YouTube:
- On Ustream:
- On Twitter:
- On Flickr:
- blogs, with posts from scientists and engineers:

Asteroid Watch:
- On Twitter:

Cassini Mission:
- On Twitter:

Earth Vital Signs:
- On Twitter:

Mars Phoenix Mission:
- On Twitter:

Mars Exploration Rover Missions:
- On Twitter:

Mars Science Lab Mission:
- On Twitter:

- On Twitter:

JPL Education:
- Page on Twitter:

And there is much more than what is listed here. A full list of all the JPL-managed social media Web sites can be found at:

And a full list of all NASA-related social media Web sites can be found at:


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