The Oscars were recently held, with the move “the Martian” nominated for a best picture award. The wildly popular movie was about an astronaut surviving on the planet Mars alone. The NASA space program is featured prominently in the movie, and the government agency has actively promoted the movie and provided information regarding how the agency would handle a similar situation. Without providing any big spoilers, the astronaut, played by Matt Damon, uses his scientific knowledge (he is a botanist) to produce water, grow potatoes, and just survive on the Mars planet. Watching the movie with my twelve year old, we began discussing how realistic were some of these plans. My librarian instincts kicked in, and I began to wonder where would one even begin to look for this kind of information? If you contacted the Indiana State Library, I would recommend that a good place to start that research is with Science.gov, a U.S. government produced resource for researching scientific topics.
Science.gov serves as a gateway to the U.S. government’s scientific, technical, and research information. Researchers can browse for information using the Google-like search engine that caters to all things relating to science. Science.gov contains over 38 databases, from 14 federal science agencies, and can search from 200 million pages of science information and over 1,900 scientific websites with just one query. Users can search by terms, keywords, or topics. The website is part of an interagency initiative with 19 U.S. government science organizations within 15 Federal Agencies to promote scientific research. These agencies form the voluntary Science.gov Alliance which governs the site. Below is a screenshot of the Science.gov search engine with separate exploratory topics.
If you are interested in learning about other freely accessible government resources, visit the Indiana Federal Documents site, http://feddocs.lib.in.us/, presented by the Indiana State Library.