09.23.08

Spitzer Podcasts Downloaded Over 7 Million Times

Podcasting -- producing audio & video content for computers and mobile devices -- has grown in popularity over the past several years. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope hit a new milestone in August: 7 million downloads of its various podcasts.

Today, NASA missions and centers produce over 50 podcasts, but Spitzer was one of the first to embrace the new technology. The original "Spitzer Audio Podcast" launched on August 3, 2005. This podcast covers news and science from Spitzer, delivering information as short-form audio presentations.

In October of 2005, the Spitzer education and public outreach team quickly responded to the addition of video podcast subscriptions to iPods and iTunes. Its repurposed web video series, "Ask an Astronomer," became one of the very first available video podcasts. This series features real NASA astronomers answering everyday astronomy questions using rich graphics to help communicate complex ideas. Though geared primarily at school children, the video podcast is popular with adults as well, with over 3.5 million downloads to date.

Inspired by the success of "Ask an Astronomer," the Spitzer team developed a new video podcast to share Spitzer's spectacular imagery and science results. "The Hidden Universe" launched on May 2, 2006, and within a year became one of the first podcasts to offer a high-definition (HD) format. The HD version has proven remarkably successful -- on iTunes it consistently ranks as the #1 NASA podcast and in the "Science & Medicine" top 10 (it achieved the #1 spot for all US podcasts in Fall 2007). A Spanish version of select episodes premiered in September 2007.

On January 15, 2008, "IRrelevant Astronomy" (that's "infrared-relevant"!) was launched. This new video podcast breaks from the typical model for science podcasts, using comedy and CG animation to tell stories that incorporate real astronomy news & concepts. The podcast offers several different shows including "Spaceship Spitzer," a sci-fi spoof starring Spitzer astronomer Dr. Michelle Thaller, and "Robot Astronomy Talk Show," featuring robots scheming to take over the Universe through astronomy.

Collectively, Spitzer podcasts have received numerous awards, including several Telly Awards, Aegis Awards, and the CINE Golden Eagle. And with the popularity of the podcasts growing every day, the 7 million mark seems to be only the beginning.

You can browse all of Spitzer's podcast products by visiting the Podcast page.