Goddard Facilities and Installations

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Goddard Facilities and Installations

This video shows a zoom from space to the ground, using data from Terra-MODIS, Landsat-ETM+, and IKONOS. The video ends at the main campus of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio
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photograph of buildings at GoddardNASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's main campus is located within Greenbelt, Md., about 6.5 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. The center is a major U.S. laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. Goddard manages many of NASA's Earth observation, astronomy and space physics missions.

The campus encompasses 1,270 acres, part of which is loaned by the nearby U.S. Department of Agriculture. These grounds include more than 30 buildings that provide more than 3 million square feet of research, development and office space.

The Greenbelt campus encompasses 1,270 acres. Goddard also maintains the adjacent Magnetic Test Facility, Propulsion Research site, the Antenna Performance Measuring Range, and the Optical Tracking and Ground Plane Facilities. NASA has ownership of 1,121 acres of land in Greenbelt. The remaining 149 acres are the outlying sites and are held by revocable lease from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

› Goddard website


Goddard Institute for Space Studies

GISSSpace-based observations provide a critical perspective for monitoring global climate and developing an understanding of Earth systems. Working with this data is a specialty of the climatologists at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

GISS occupies five of seven floors in Columbia University's Armstrong Hall in Manhattan's Morningside Heights neighborhood. The institute was originally established in May 1961 by Dr. Robert Jastrow to do basic research in space sciences in support of Goddard programs. Much of the institute's early work involved examination of planetary atmospheres using data collected by telescopes and space probes.

Current research at GISS emphasizes a broad study of global change, addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment that affect the habitability of our planet and occur on various time scales -- from one-time events such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages.

Fans of the television program "Seinfeld" may recognize the restaurant on the GISS building's ground floor as the exterior of the diner frequented by Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer in many episodes of the show.

GISS is a component laboratory of Goddard Space Flight Center's Earth Sciences Division.

› GISS website


Wallops Flight Facility

Aerial view of Wallops Flight FacilityWallops Flight Facility, located on Virginia's Eastern Shore, was established in 1945 by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (a forerunner to NASA), as a center for aeronautic research. Wallops launched its first rocket July 4, 1945. Since then, more than 14,000 rockets have lifted off from its facilities.

Wallops (managed by Goddard) is now NASA's principal facility for management and implementation of suborbital research programs. Wallops launches low-cost, versatile suborbital and orbital rockets, balloons and aircraft in support of Goddard Earth and space science research. The facility, near Chincoteague, Va., also serves as a test site for new launch technologies.

Wallops encompasses 6188 acres of land. The facility has 84 major buildings, including aircraft hangars. 

› Wallops website


Independent Verification and Validation Facility

IV&VA software error, no matter if it originates in a spacecraft or at control centers on the ground, has as much potential to bring a mission to a halt as does a hardware problem. That's why the Independent Verification and Validation Facility puts critical mission programs through elaborate testing. The primary function of the IV&V, located in Fairmont, W.Va., is to ensure specialized computer programs developed for missions operate perfectly.

All aspects of software are examined, including design qualifications, documentation, and more, to ensure every stage of program development proceeds without problems.

The IV&V Program was established in 1993 as part of a NASA-wide strategy to provide the highest achievable levels of safety and cost-effectiveness for mission critical software. The NASA IV&V Program was founded under the NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) as a direct result of recommendations made by the National Research Council (NRC) and the Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident.

The IV&V has a longstanding research agreement with West Virginia University. Goddard manages the IV&V Facility on behalf of NASA.

› IV&V website


White Sands Test Facility

White SandsFor all the data that satellites gather to be of any use, it has to be sent back to Earth. Antenna dishes at the White Sands Test Facility, close to the foot of the San Andres Mountains outside Las Cruces, N.M., are just part of NASA's ground-based ways of "talking" to orbiting spacecraft and collecting their data.

NASA originally chartered the White Sands facility in the 1960s to test rocket engines and other manned spaceflight components. The area's mild weather (hence, a lessened chance of weather-related signal interference) made the complex an ideal home for the dishes as well. The first missions to use these antennas were the Goddard-managed Solar Dynamics Observatory and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston manages the overall White Sands complex, which also includes facilities operated by Goddard.

› White Sands website


Page Last Updated: September 2nd, 2014
Page Editor: Rob Garner