What’s NASA done for you lately? Oh, you mean apart from keeping a continuously inhabited orbiting laboratory (International Space Station) in productive operation for over 12 years (since November 2, 2000,) monitoring probes sent to the farthest reaches of our Solar System (Voyager 1 & Voyager 2), and a probe arriving at Jupiter in 2016 (Juno), launching countless scientific missions to study the Earth (Van Allen Probes), Sun (Solar Dynamics Observatory), and Moon (GRAIL), and landing a 2000 lb. robotic rover (Mars Curiosity) on the surface of Mars via a never-before-used SkyCrane…?
Here on Earth, NASA is also busy inspiring and educating, through its award-winning NASA Social events, open houses, and a wealth of free stuff: desktop wallpapers, ebooks, apps, paper spacecraft models, posters, and more!
A Primer to Some of the Free Stuff from NASA …
- One of the many NASA sites that provides a stunning collection of desktop wallpaper images, free for your enjoyment, is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- Other free NASA desktop wallpaper sites: Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day, Spitzer Space Telescope, Global Climate Change: Earth Wallpaper, James Webb Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope
- BONUS: Raytheon’s free desktop wallpapers, featuring images created using their VIIRS sensor aboard the Suomi NPP satellite.
- NASA provides Free E-books on aeronautics, history, science, and other topics, as well as information on how to view them on your favorite e-book reader.
- Make sure you have NASA with you on-the-go by outfitting your mobile device(s) with some of NASA’s iOS and Android apps!
- There are many more space & science apps, by the way, if you don’t mind paying $0.99 or more — Best Space Science Apps (I’ll be updating this for 2013, including Android apps, soon!)
Spacecraft Paper Models:
- Itching to Build Your Own Spacecraft (Paper Model)? NASA provides directions on how to do that! You can build the following NASA spacecraft:
- Chandra X-Ray Telescope (Wikipedia)
- Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (Wikipedia)
- Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (Wikipedia)
- Gravity Probe B (Wikipedia)
- Hubble Space Telescope – 2 versions: easier / more difficult (Wikipedia)
- James Webb Space Telescope (Wikipedia)
- Kepler Spacecraft (Wikipedia)
- Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer/RXTE Spacecraft (Wikipedia)
- Spitzer Space Telescope (Wikipedia)
- Swift Spacecraft (Wikipedia)
- Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer/WISE Spacecraft (Wikipedia)
Audio Files & Streaming Music:
- Treat your ears to a great mix of New Rock/Indie/Alternative music by tuning in to NASA’s own Third Rock Radio – “America’s Space Station”. Occasionally, they have guest DJs on, like Mars Curiosity Flight Director Bobak Ferdowsi (@tweetsoutloud), aka “NASA Mohawk Guy”
- Relive some of NASA’s historic spaceflights, test firings, and recent missions by checking out their collection of free NASA sounds. They even provide information on how to convert the audio files into ringtones!
Posters & Calendars:
- Have access to a high quality printer? You’re in luck! Print your own free NASA posters & calendars:
In addition to all the above, if you live anywhere near a NASA center, visit it and you will usually be able to find fact sheets and other cool stuff.
Did I miss incredible online free stuff provided directly by NASA to the public? If so, post your links in the comments. Thanks!