Skip to main content

The Government’s back … online! Our 7 favorite apps and accounts that have returned

governments triumphant return to the web our 7 favorite apps and accounts that logged back on government shutdown social medi
Finally, the government shutdown is over! While those endless happy hours enjoyed by furloughed federal employees were fun (mostly because they often resulted in drunken online rants), it’s a relief that order has (hopefully) returned. Not only can you re-visit your shuttered plans for seeing national landmarks in person, you may now get back to enjoying your favorite government-owned sites, apps, and social media accounts.

If you haven’t been following any of them before, now is a good time as any to start doing so!

1. The official NASA Goddard Instagram account

There are a number of reasons why NASA won the recent Shorty Awards for the #Government category, but we really don’t need to get into that in full detail. Instead, we’ll just show you one of their more active social media accounts, belonging to the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Currents of Change When it comes to ice in #Antarctica, out of sight is not out of mind. Warm ocean currents circulating off the coast of Antarctica are indirectly contributing to rising global sea levels. As these twisting flows meander around the continent's frozen edges and beneath the underside of floating ice shelves, they're slowly melting the ice from below. Using surface elevation measurements collected during NASA's ICESat mission, scientists have found that this melting is driving most of Antarctica's recent ice losses—particularly in West Antarctica, where inland glaciers that feed into the ice shelves are draining ice into the ocean at an accelerated rate. The visualization below shows the interaction of modeled ocean currents and Antarctic ice shelves, where red areas represent ice thicker than about 1,800 feet and blue areas represent ice thinner than about 650 feet. Notice how the ice shelves generally become thinner—a rainbow of colors indicates intermediate thicknesses—as they extend farther from land. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center #nasagoddard #WelcomeBackNASA

A post shared by NASA Goddard (@nasagoddard) on

Additionally, here’s a pretty cool photo of the northern lights taken by Astronaut Mike Hopkins during the shutdown, posted through NASA’s main Instagram:

Astronaut Mike Hopkins, aboard the International Space Station, shared this picture of the northern lights on October 9, 2013 saying "The pic doesn't do the northern lights justice. Covered the whole sky. Truly amazing!" The northern lights are caused by collisions between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere. These electrons originate in the magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by Earth’s magnetic field. As they rain into the atmosphere, the electrons impart energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules, making them excited. When the molecules return to their normal state, they release photons, small bursts of energy in the form of light. Astronauts have used hand-held cameras to photograph the Earth for more than 40 years. Beginning with the Mercury missions in the early 1960s, astronauts have taken more than 700,000 photographs of the Earth. Today, the International Space Station continues the NASA tradition of Earth observation from human-tended spacecraft. Image credit: NASA #northernlights #aurora #auroraborealis #polar #iss #astropix

A post shared by NASA (@nasa) on

2. The Curiosity Rover on Twitter

Inasmuch as I enjoy the view of Mars through the (original) Total Recall movie, nothing beats the real thing. Now that the mission is back in commission, expect to enjoy more snapshots of the red planet:

Allow me to reintroduce myself. I'm back on Twitter & even closer to Mars' Mount Sharp.

— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) October 17, 2013

3. AsteroidWatch on Twitter

Really, all of NASA’s accounts should be on this list, but we promise this’ll be the last one.

[Tap tap] Is this thing on? Hey, it's great to be back! We're looking forward to sharing the news on near-Earth asteroids & comets.

— Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) October 17, 2013

The best thing about @AsteroidWatch being back is we can now rest easy knowing that we’ll know through Twitter right away if the world is about to go in Deep Impact or Armageddon fashion (also, movie metaphors are awesome).

4 asteroids are safely passing thru the neighborhood today at great distances–5 million to 18 million miles away (8 to 28 mil km)

— Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) October 17, 2013

Yay, no life-ending, flaming space rocks hurtling our way!

4. Smithsonian National Zoo app

The panda cams are back!

Our IT staff began the process of bringing the animal cams back online this morning, starting with the panda cams.

— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) October 17, 2013

As to be expected, the entire Internet is just too happy to be able to see Mei Xiang and cub go about their day, so the online feed may still be spotty.

The cams can only handle a limited number of connections. After 15 min. viewers need to refresh the cam page to continue to watch the cams.

— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) October 17, 2013

However, for only $1.99, you can enjoy uninterrupted live streaming of the panda cam through the official Smithsonian National Zoo app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices. Other features include detailed animal information, maps, and tour tips.

national zoo app

5. The official White House Tumblr

The White House is actually all over the social media space, but we find the fact that our government has an official Tumblrblog is way too cool not to be singled out on this list. There’s really no better way to learn more about President Obama’s day-to-day than through GIFs.

Tonight, President Obama addressed the nation on Syria. Watch the speech:

6. National Park Service Web cameras

One of the best things about the government shutdown being over is the fact that all national parks that have been closed off to the public are now once again accepting visitors. While outdoor lovers are free to go to any of the 401 national parks located all over the country, 18 of them are free for online sightseeing via webcam. Just click on any dot on the map to view a photo of your desired park.

national park webcams

Webcam photos are refreshed every 15 minutes. Other information provided include current air quality and weather, so you can plan your next hike or camping trip more efficiently.

national park webcams yosemite

7. NPS National Mall app

Most of the country’s famous landmarks are also open for business, including the National Mall, located in Washington D.C. On your next visit to the country’s capital, it’d be a great advantage to have the National Mall app installed, either on your iOS or Android device. Features include an easy-to-use map, walking directions, landmark information, and a Park Lens feature that allows you to view your surroundings with augmented reality by holding your device up and looking through the camera.

national mall app

Editors' Recommendations