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Podcast: The C.O.L.B.E.R.T. Episode

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NASA is famous for its acronyms and technical jargon. If you’ve ever watched a rocket launch or a spacewalk, you’ve heard some of them. Blueshift is produced by the ASD EPO team at NASA GSFC – that is, the Astrophysics Science Division Education and Public Outreach team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Do we need to spell out NASA, too?

In this episode, we explore NASA mission names and where they come from. And we make a very special dedication – this one’s for you, Stephen Colbert!


NASA and Acronyms

NASA has a reputation for turning the names of everything – missions, instruments, software, jobs, and more – into acronyms. In theory, this makes complicated and lengthy phrases memorable, pronounceable, and manageable. But sometimes it creates a strange new word that has people scratching their heads and trying to figure out, “What are they talking about?” To learn more about acronyms, and to see some of the ones used by NASA, visit:


About the Featured Missions

In this episode, we interviewed people from four different NASA missions – Swift, Fermi, Suzaku, and the Solar Dynamics Observatory. To learn more about these missions, check out:

  • Why is it called Swift? – From the Goddard Science Question of the Week, an extended explanation of the name “Swift.”
  • First Light for the Fermi Space Telescope – An article (and podcast) from Science@NASA about the change from GLAST to the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, announced as the satellite unveiled its very first image.
  • Why is it called Suzaku? – The Suzaku Learning Center explains how Japanese satellites are named – and tells us a little more about the name “Suzaku.”
  • About the SDO Mission – The pre-launch name is fairly straightforward, but this page explains more about the mission and what it will do.



Host Sara Mitchell
Acronym Skit Producer Francis Reddy
Editors Sara Mitchell
Francis Reddy
Guests Francis Reddy
Anita Krishnamurthi
Neil Gehrels
David Thompson
Koji Mukai
Dean Pesnell
Theme Music Naked Singularity
Additional Music Kevin MacLeod
Transcript Sara Mitchell
Francis Reddy
Website Support Meredith Gibb
Maggie Masetti
Producer Sara Mitchell
Executive Producer Anita Krishnamurthi
Responsible NASA Official Kim Weaver

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