Mesmerize Yourself For Hours With NASA's Gigantic New Image Library

Anyone who has ever navigated a government website knows that most of them are, for lack of a better word, utter shit. They are janky and disorganized. But NASA, in an effort to do away with that, just pulled all of its incredible images and videos together in one place. Get ready to lose hours of your life gazing at all the pretty, pretty pictures.

All image credits: NASA. Hubble captures vivid auroras in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

The image library can be found here (bookmark it!). And creating the library was no simple task, either. An excellent story over at Ars Technica outlines how the library came to be.


Basically, NASA has always had a massive collection of images, audio and video recordings that people wanted to see. Gradually, each of the 10 NASA field centers started digitizing their photo archives and putting them online. But this system was still tough to navigate because the images were scattered across many sites and databases and there wasn’t a good way to search them all.

In the 2000s, NASA tried to pull everything together, but it didn’t really work. Then it tried again a few years ago, attempting to consolidate 140,000 images, videos and audio clips that lived in over 100 collections.


It wasn’t easy. From the story:

The first task involved getting everyone at the various centers on board with the project. This was difficult, because some centers had been publishing their photos to the web for about two decades, in their own way. So Grubbs and his commercial partner had to create a common metadata system, and then weed out duplicate photos. Then, the government needed to find cloud infrastructure that met its security protocols.

“One aspect that enabled this project was that it was completely cloud-based and NASA did not need to make any hardware investment,” InfoZen chief executive Raj Ananthanpillai told Ars. “The NASA library is implemented as immutable Infrastructure as Code in a cloud native architecture using AWS services. The makes for an extremely responsive user experience for the public as images and assets are propagated around the world.”


This is the result. It’s beautiful. The organizational freak that lives inside me is pleased. Now, with everything in one place, you can type in search terms and even sort by year and see how NASA’s technology has advanced over the decades.

I wonder if they uploaded any photos of the aliens. Probably not. That’s top-secret stuff.


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Kristen Lee

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.