NASA Inspired Writing

NASA’s entire collection of images, sounds, and video is available and publicly searchable online. You can use the media any way you like, for free.

Students and writers might look at pictures and videos just for fun, or the resources can inspire short descriptive writings, creative works of fiction, or poems.

Imagine you are describing how a constellation looks up close.

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows the spiral galaxy NGC 4845, located over 65 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin). The galaxy’s orientation clearly reveals the galaxy’s striking spiral structure: a flat and dust-mottled disc surrounding a bright galactic bulge. NGC 4845’s glowing centre hosts a gigantic version of a black hole, known as a supermassive black hole. The presence of a black hole in a distant galaxy like NGC 4845 can be inferred from its effect on the galaxy’s innermost stars; these stars experience a strong gravitational pull from the black hole and whizz around the galaxy’s centre much faster than otherwise. From investigating the motion of these central stars, astronomers can estimate the mass of the central black hole — for NGC 4845 this is estimated to be hundreds of thousands times heavier than the Sun. This same technique was also used to discover the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way — Sagittarius A* — which hits some four million times the mass of the Sun (potw1340a). The galactic core of NGC 4845 is not just supermassive, but also super-hungry. In 2013 researchers were observing another galaxy when they noticed a violent flare at the centre of NGC 4845. The flare came from the central black hole tearing up and feeding off an object many times more massive than Jupiter. A brown dwarf or a large planet simply strayed too close and was devoured by the hungry core of NGC 4845.

Or you’re writing a fictional memoir of watching a launch based on a short video.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 10:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 19, 2020, carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft on the company’s uncrewed In-Flight Abort Test. The flight test demonstrated the spacecraft’s escape capabilities in preparation for crewed flights to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Maybe you are writing a poem about a galaxy.

This image is from NASA Galaxy Evolution Explorer is an observation of the large galaxy in Andromeda, Messier 31. The Andromeda galaxy is the most massive in the local group of galaxies that includes our Milky Way.

Or you’re writing a work of fiction set on another planet.

Imagine standing on the surface of the exoplanet TRAPPIST-1f. This artist concept is one interpretation of what it could look like.

Perhaps a picture or video can help you describe what it feels like and sounds like to be on the moon.

AS16-113-18339 (21 April 1972) --- Astronaut John W. Young, commander of the Apollo 16 lunar landing mission, leaps from the lunar surface as he salutes the United States flag at the Descartes landing site during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity (EVA).  Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., lunar module pilot, took this picture. The Lunar Module (LM) "Orion" is on the left. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) is parked beside the LM. The object behind Young (in the shade of the LM) is the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph (FUC/S). Stone Mountain dominates the background in this lunar scene. While astronauts Young and Duke descended in the LM to explore the Descartes highlands landing site on the moon, astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly II, command module pilot, remained with the Command and Service Modules (CSM) "Casper" in lunar orbit.

Even audio clips can enhance your descriptive writings and fiction. The site also provides potentially valuable resources for reports. The opportunities are vast, so check it out!