Barbara Mattson

Barbara Mattson
Contact Information
Institution:NASA GSFC
Organization:Astrophysics Science Division
Code 660.1
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
Phone Number:
Email Address:

Dr. Barbara Mattson is currently the Education Lead and Communications Scientist for the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. She has worked with the Astrophysics Education team since 2001 and began developing educational materials for NASA in 2005. She was previously the Education and Public Outreach Lead for a number of NASA programs and projects including NASA's Physics of the Cosmos and Cosmic Origins Programs, the High Energy Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), and the Suzaku and Astro-H missions. Dr. Mattson was a co-project lead on the Cosmic Times project, a suite of educational materials that traces our changing understanding of the nature of the Universe from the first confirmation of General Relativity through the discovery of dark energy and beyond. Dr. Mattson has given a number of educator workshops nationwide at locations that include the National Science Teacher Association national and regional conferences and the Celebration of Teaching and Learing.

She brings to her work a lifelong love of astronomy and science, starting with naturalist-led night-sky gazing as a child in Minnesota State Parks. Her own career as a science educator began when she was a teenager as a summer volunteer for an traveling dinosaur exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Now she pursues this passion fulltime in her roles as an education scientist at GSFC.


Professional Information
Primary Forum:Astrophysics
My SMD Projects:

Cosmic Times (
Cosmic Times is a suite of curriculum support materials for grades 7-12 that explores our changing understanding of the nature of the Universe over the past century from the first confirmation of Einstein’s General Relativity through the discovery of dark energy. Cosmic Times consists of 6 posters, each resembling the front page of a newspaper from a particular time during the last century, and each poster is accompanied by 4-5 standards-based lesson plans.

Student Hera (
Student Hera is an authentic data-in-the-classroom activity where students follow on-line tutorials to analyze real X-ray data to examine images, light curves and spectra.

Imagine the Universe (
The Imagine the Universe website has been developed over the past 15 years to provide content for the general public about high energy astrophysics topics. The Imagine! site also features an “Ask an Astronomer” service run by local volunteer scientists. The site also hosts curriculum support materials that are standards-based lesson plans covering topics from the life cycles of stars to black holes to the cosmic origins of the elements. 

Collaboration Across Cultures (
The Collaboration Across Cultures website celebrates the partnership between NASA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency, in X-ray astronomy. The website highlights the four X-ray astronomy missions that JAXA has developed with significant NASA input over the past 25 years.

My Publications (journals, blogs, products):

Mattson, B. "Bring NASA astrophysics into your science, math, and humanities classroom"  New Jersey Education Association Review (2012), 86:12.

Lochner, J., and Mattson, B. "Extra! Extra! Read All About the Universe!", The Science Teacher (2009), 76:60.

Lawton, B., Eisenhamer, B., Mattson, B. J., Raddick, M. J. “Bringing the Virtual Astronomical Observatory to the Education Community”, Connecting People to Science: A National Conference on Science Education and Public Outreach, ASP Conference Series (2012), 457:283.

Lochner, J. C., and Mattson, B. J. “Uncovering the Stories Behind the Science: Infusing Astro 101 with the History of Modern Cosmology”, Earth and Space Science: Making Connections in Education and Public Outreach (2011), 443:458.

Mattson, B. J., and Lochner, J. C. “Science Journalism: Using Science Literacy to Teach Fundamental Science” Science Education and Outreach: Forging a Path to the Future, ASP Conference Series (2010), 431:257.

Lochner, J. C. and Mattson, B. J. “Cosmic Times: Astronomy History and Science for the Classroom” Preparing for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy: A Hands-On Symposium, ASP Conference Series (2008), 400:288.