Cosmic Times

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions to help you understand what Universe Mash-Up is and how to get started.

What is a mash-up?

In formal terms, a mash-up is a piece (image, audio or video) created by combining two or more sources of media into a new derivative work. Informally, a mash-up is something that is put together from more than one other existing work.

A picture of American Gothic, the famous painting by Grand Wood, with the farmer and his wife replace by the President and First Lady would be an example of a photo mash-up. A video collage of Homer Simpson's many renditions of the word "d'oh" would be an example of a video mash-up.

What is a "Universe Mash-Up"?

We've put a spin on mash-ups to highlight the science, people, and history featured in our Cosmic Times materials. In particular, we have designed this project to focus on the theme of tracing our understanding of the expanding Universe over the past century.

We have provided materials (photos, audio clips and video clips) related to this theme. You may add your own materials to your piece, but please be careful of copyright considerations.

How can I make a mash-up?

We have outlined a simple procedure to help teachers use mash-ups in the classroom. The same procedure will work for you, even if you are not a student. Visit our In the Classroom page for more.

What software can I use to make a mash-up?

We cannot promote one software package over another; however, we can tell you that there are many free software packages out there that can help you produce audio and/or video mash-ups. There are also a few free web-based editors that will allow you to edit audio and/or video without installing new software on your computer.

The PC and Mac each come with their own software package that can do the job, or you can do a quick web-search for "free video editing software" to find others. Of course, be sure to check out reviews of any software package before installing it on your computer – you don't want to install malware.

What should I make my mash-up about?

That's up to you! Universe Mash-ups focus on the Cosmic Times theme of tracing our changing understanding of the expanding Universe. Check out the online Cosmic Times newspapers, read through some of the articles, and choose an appropriate topic. We have provided copyright-free materials and materials licensed specifically for this project in the Media Archive for you to use – after reading some of the Cosmic Times articles, poke around the archive, which may spark some ideas for your mash-up.

Do I have to worry about copyright?

In short, yes. The longer answer is that we have provided an Media Archive of copyright-free and specifically-licensed materials to be used for this project. If you chose media from that archive for this project, you do not need to worry about copyright. Also, if you produce a video or audio piece using only your own image/voice (or that of friends who have agreed to the project), you own the copyright to that portion of the project. However, if you find other resources on the web (video, audio, photos), or if you use music from your CD/MP3 collection for any part of your mash-up, then you will need to consider copyright.

Visit our Copyright Considerations page for more on this.

A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Andy Ptak (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC