NASA on your iPod
A new "podcast" puts audio recordings of NASA science news articles into your pocket MP3 player
March 21, 2005: It's hip. It's trendy. It's ... NASA?
Actually, it's NASA on your iPod.
Podcasting is a new technology that lets you search for audio broadcasts on the Internet -- so-called "podcasts" -- and download them onto portable MP3 players. You can take a podcast with you and listen to it whenever and wherever the mood strikes.
Science@NASA has been providing audio recordings of science news stories for years. Last December, the site began podcasting those stories. By February, Science@NASA was the #1 most popular podcast among users of the Podcasting News website.
"We're pleasantly surprised to get a number one ranking so quickly. The Science@NASA podcast has existed for such a short time. Rising to number one after only about two months is pretty amazing," says Ron Koczor, manager of Science@NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
Bryan Walls, curator of the Science@NASA web site and the architect of its podcasting service, explains how to access a podcast: "Connect your MP3 player to your computer, then connect your computer to the Internet. Podcasting software lets you 'subscribe' to a particular podcast like Science@NASA. Whenever that podcast is updated with a new installment, the software downloads the update and sticks it on your MP3 player."
The most popular podcasting software is a free program called iPodder, but other programs for podcasting are available as well. With these programs, users can find podcasts, create lists of their favorites, and automatically download new material to their MP3 player. ("And for those without an MP3 player," notes Walls, "podcasts play fine from the computer, too.")
Below: Podcasting software lets listeners browse available podcasts and "subscribe" to their favorites, which then get automatically downloaded. Image courtesy iPodder.com.
"People are free to put Science@NASA stories on their own websites or other publications, as long as they give us proper credit," adds Koczor. Likewise, people are free to use the Science@NASA podcast, sharing it with friends, or perhaps including audio excerpts from an article in their own, personal podcast.
Currently the podcast is available only in English, though Koczor says they're planning a Spanish version in the near future.
"We're always looking for new ways to make Science@NASA available to people," says Walls. "You can get our stories on your MP3 player, your Palm or Pocket PC, and even on some cell phones." Click here to view a complete list of formats.
"Thanks to these cutting-edge technologies," says Koczor, "more people than ever before are tuning into the fascinating world of NASA science."