The government established the Goddard Space Flight Center in 1959 as the first space flight center, about 30 minutes outside Washington, D.C. Today, they focus on research about space, along with the Earth and how the sun and other planets affect our planet. The center is home to the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched in 1990 and still takes observations about the expanding universe.
The Visitor Center at the center allows everyone to come and learn more about the work that NASA is doing at Goddard. The GLOBE exhibit lets visitors know more about the planet we know the best, Earth, from the air to the soil. Visitors can also explore how satellites help us understand where we live, and the projects that Goddard satellites are currently working on. You can also learn more about the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and past and future visits to the moon.
One must-see exhibit, which will transport you away from Earth, is Solarium. This large-scale multimedia art installation puts you right next to the Sun without any risk of burning up. You can see solar flares and layers of the solar atmosphere at eight times the resolution of an HD television, with video data taken from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The exhibits are not just limited to the indoors. Outside, you can learn more about the Earth’s atmosphere at the Ozone Garden, where ozone-sensitive plants let scientists know about changes in the protective gas-shield around Earth. Make sure you also visit the rocket graveyard, better known as the Rocket Garden. This spot is a perfect one for photos with real NASA artifacts, and you can get a spectacular view of the whole Goddard Space Flight Center campus.
The Visitor Center and gift shop are open daily. However, hours change seasonally, so make sure to visit the website or call before making your trip.