NASA is open for business again.
With the government shutdown officially over, space agency employees are trickling back in to the many NASA centers sprinkled throughout the country. Since the shutdown began on Oct. 1, fewer than 600 of NASA's 18,000 employees were allowed to work.
Most of NASA's many facilities were closed for the duration of the shutdown, and the agency's social media accounts — including profiles dedicated to mission updates and spacecraft — went dark. NASA.gov and other NASA-affiliated websites were turned off, but on Thursday officials were working to get operations back up and running again. [NASA's Space Exploration and Tech Goals for 2014 (Photos)]
"We're back!" officials from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston wrote in a post on Twitter Thursday. "We now return you to your space-related posts! Getting websites and #NASA TV back on may take some time but we're on it!"
NASA TV is currently playing archival footage from the early days of the manned space program, and NASA.gov is now accessible.
Although most NASA employees were not able to work during the 16-day shutdown, some missions were still collecting data and performing key maneuvers. Thursday, some NASA-run Twitter accounts were trying to catch their followers up about what the missions have accomplished since the shutdown began.
"Allow me to reintroduce myself," officials with NASA's Mars rover Curiosity (@MarsCuriosity) wrote on Twitter. "I'm back on Twitter & even closer to Mars' Mount Sharp."
"The government may have been shut down, but I continued to orbit the moon and gather great data!" officials working with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (@LRO_NASA) wrote on Twitter.
@AsteroidWatch, NASA's Twitter account for its near-Earth objects office run through the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., took a lighthearted approach to the end of the shutdown.
"(Tap tap) Is this thing on?" Asteroid Watch officials wrote on Twitter. "Hey, it's great to be back! We're looking forward to sharing the news on near-Earth asteroids & comets."
While Asteroid Watch wasn't able to send out tweets, the hunt for possibly Earth-threatening asteroids still continued throughout the shutdown. Most major asteroid-detecting United States projects receive money from NASA, but they were generally unaffected by the shutdown because they tend to operate on funds granted months ago.
Astronauts on the International Space Station were still supported from the ground with a skeleton crew in Mission Control at Johnson Space Center through the course of the shutdown. NASA astronauts and space station crew members Karen Nyberg and Mike Hopkins were still able to beam down amazing pictures and their thoughts from space via their personal Twitter accounts (@AstroKarenN and @AstroIllini), but neither Hopkins nor Nyberg shared views on the government closure.