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NASA Explorers Season 1
A New Type of Storytelling at NASA

NASA Explorers is a digital series that takes viewers inside the agency for a close-up look at the scientists, engineers, pioneers & experts at the front lines of exploration. The series connects the seemingly disparate parts of NASA – from aeronautics, to science, to human spaceflight – by conveying a common drive to explore new frontiers, overcome seemingly impossible obstacles, and push humanity toward a better future. 

For our inaugural season, we headed to Earth's cryosphere to cover researchers who frequent the most extreme environments on this planet in a quest of exploration: to understand our Earth, how it is changing, and how that change affects all of us.

NASA Explorers Season 1 was produced, edited, directed, narrated, and disseminated by a core team at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA on behalf of NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. 
Episode One: The Big Thaw 

The Cryosphere is a place we all depend on, but many of us will never go to. As temperatures rise, the frozen regions of Earth are changing rapidly. NASA scientists are locked in a race against time to understand our shifting climate and how it affects life on Earth.
Episode Two: The Snow Below

Snow is one part of the cryosphere that many of us have actually encountered, but it also plays a crucial role in regulating Earth’s climate. Through decades of remote sensing, NASA has kept a close eye on the ebb and flow of snow cover. NASA Explorers also venture into the field at the far reaches of Earth to study snow, a critical resource for the millions of people who rely on it for drinking water.
Episode Three: Ice Odyssey

To know the evolution of sea ice and how we observe it from space is to know Dr. Claire Parkinson. Meet the scientist who continues to have a profound effect on the study of climate change through her work monitoring the health of global sea ice.
Episode Four: Glacial Pace

NASA Explorers study Earth's glaciers and ice sheets more than almost any other part of the cryosphere. As they melt and change, glaciers and ice sheets dramatically affect sea level rise and the climate system as a whole, creating an urgency to understand and forecast their behavior.
Episode Five: Frozen World

You have to start somewhere when looking for life away from Earth. Many NASA Explorers look for places with water ice, including distant moons like Enceladus and Europa. This week, we’re traveling away from our home planet to investigate ice in the solar system.
Episode Six: High Mountain Glaciers

They’re rivers of ice, slowly flowing down the sides of mountains, and they currently have an outsized role in sea level rise. This week, NASA Explorers are taking us high into the mountains of Alaska, Patagonia, Asia and elsewhere for a closer look at mountain glaciers.
Episode Seven: Permafrost

This episode, NASA Explorers head back in time…by going underground. In the Arctic, a frozen layer of soil – permafrost – trapped dead plants and animals for thousands of years. As the climate warms, that soil is beginning to thaw, releasing carbon dioxide and methane.
Episode Eight: The Launch

It’s 5 a.m. on a normal September day and NASA Explorers have gathered in a California field to watch a rocket launch light up the pre-dawn sky. On board the rocket is a satellite more than 10 years in the making, with one single instrument that will revolutionize the study of ice on Earth. Join the team in the excitement and stress of watching ICESat-2 launch into space and begin its work measuring our home planet.
Episode Nine: Final Approach

In the pre-dawn hours of a late October day, a satellite and an airplane joined forces over the frigid Weddell Sea, taking simultaneous measurements of drifting sea ice. It was the culmination of more than a decade of planning, designing and building the best way to measure Earth's changing ice. NASA Explorers are constantly pushing the limit to learn more about our world and those far beyond. Join in as they celebrate a milestone in the quest to better understand the planet we call home.
Bonus Episode: Flying Alaska

Flying low over some of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet, a cadre of scientists and pilots have been measuring changes in Alaskan glaciers as part of NASA’s Operation IceBridge for almost a decade. The team has seen significant change in ice extent and thickness over that time. Data from the mission was used in a 2015 study that put numbers on the loss of Alaskan glaciers: 75 billion tons of ice every year from 1994 to 2013. Last summer, Chris Larsen and Martin Truffer, both of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, flew with University of Arizona's Jack Holt and University of Texas student Michael Christoffersen.
Making NASA Explorers
NASA Explorers was created to tell a different kind of story at NASA - one of personal journeys and how they're connected to bigger themes like risk, resilience, fellowship and common good. 

The series chronicled a critical half-year period in the life of NASA's cryosphere research program, beginning with the launch of the satellite GRACE-FO, covering multiple field campaigns from Alaska, to Greenland, to Antarctica, and ending with the ICESat-2 launch and the first tandem flight of missions ICESat-2 and Operation IceBridge. All together, nine episodes, including two bonus episodes were shot in eight different locations around the globe: Washington, D.C., California, Colorado, Alaska, Iceland, Greenland, Antarctica, and the Arctic. 
Because this was a serialized show being created in-real-time, we used analytics of how the videos were performing to adjust the style and layout of upcoming episodes. We also used analytics to inform how we published and pushed the episodes on social media, noticing that the audience was watching on the weekends and re-upping the episodes on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Our team also created a robust online community through our Facebook Watch page by hosting a Behind-the-Scenes Facebook Live every Friday after each episode. Host and series producer, Lauren Ward sat down with the latest episode's explorer to talk about what it was like to film their journey and what was left on the cutting room floor. 

Making a Difference
During the course of creating this series, the NASA Explorers team received an email from group of young students living in the remote town of Venetie, Alaska. The students, who had been following the series, wanted to be the first "Kid Explorers" featured on the show and decided to do their own ice experiments in a snowy patch of forest behind their school. As a class, they collected data about permafrost through NASA's GLOBE Program while their teacher filmed on her iPhone. We were so impressed with these kids that we decided to make a bonus episode about their amazing work and even enlisted some of the Explorers from the original series to film a surprise message at the end of the episode. This was a big moment for our team, as it confirmed that not only does telling stories about science have a positive ripple effect, but that the next class of Explorers is well on its way to becoming the scientists, engineers, pioneers & experts of tomorrow. 
Bonus Episode: Cryo Kids

NASA Explorers come in all ages! In this week’s bonus episode, we headed back to Alaska to check in with some of our tiniest Explorers. They’re following in the scientists’ footsteps, working with NASA’s GLOBE program to measure when and where snow and ice are freezing. Plus, stick around for a thank you message from our scientists to the young Explorers collecting their data.
NASA Explorers Season 1

NASA Explorers Season 1

NASA Explorers is a digital series that takes viewers inside the agency for a close-up look at the scientists, engineers, pioneers & experts at t Read More