1D, 2D, 3D– Go!

    The Challenge

    Create tools that visualize Earth science missions and their data in three dimensions!


    Web apps are a powerful medium to communicate the operations of satellite missions, and to visualize data from these missions.  This challenge invites you to build interactive 3D web tools that present Earth science missions and associated data visualizations. 

    Available code libraries for interactive 3D web-apps are general purpose, and published NASA data sets were not specifically formatted for the free 3D code libraries. Modern web browsers can present 3D graphics via WebGL. Free open source code libraries and free 3D models enable the development of interactive space mission visualizations. Free web page hosting services enable citizen scientists to deploy their web apps.  

    Your challenge is to develop interactive 3D tools that display trajectories, spacecraft, instrumentation, Earth coverage, and data visualizations! Research previous and ongoing Earth science missions and available data, and develop a tool that explains the mission or visualizes the data collected.  Design your tool to engage the general public, especially teachers and students!


    The Web-based Space Mission Visualization Tutorial presentation, identified in the Resources section, provides links to free 3D WebGL code libraries, a code library for satellite trajectories, tutorials for converting trajectory data for display in a web app, and demonstrations of interactive 3D web apps. 

    Several NASA projects and previous Space Apps Challenge products are available on an open source code repository. The code repository offers free web page hosting; so, projects can provide their source code and host a web page with the embedded web app within the same repository. 

    Source code and models for interactive 3D web apps must be free for reuse, well commented and documented, and demonstrated via a working web app embedded in web page.  Code and models ought to be written so that they can be adapted and reused by citizen scientists interested in designing their own space missions. 

    Resource Descriptions:

    Resources and instructions for this particular challenge are lengthy, and they are thus included here instead of only as links in the Resources menu on the right.

    NASA provides several 3D web resources for technical information, tutorials, demonstrations, spacecraft models, and links to code libraries:

    1) NASA Technical Report Server (NTRS) – a document repository with a wealth of information about Earth Science missions. With respect to this challenge, the presentation “Web-based Space Mission Visualization” (WSMV) identifies free JavaScript code libraries and provides links to demonstrations and tutorials:

    - Web-Based Space Mission Visualization Tutorial

    - Web-Based Space Mission Visualization Tutorial PDF

    - Tutorials and demonstrations linked to the WSMV presentation:

    2) NASA 3D Resources: 

    3) NASA’s Open Data portal – An excellent starting point for finding data sets, reusable code, and Application Programming Interfaces.

    4) NASA Data Portal: Global Landslide Catalog Export 

    5) NASA Data Catalog: Earth Science category

    6) NASA Open Earth Exchange (OpenNEX)

    7) NASA’s General Mission Analysis Tool (GMAT) – A free space mission trajectory design application.

    8) NASA Web Worldwind – An open source web-based Earth globe:

    9) Satellite-js provides Simplified General Perturbations (SGP) for orbital propagation. 

    10) Analytical Graphics Inc.’s Cesium is another web-based Earth globe.  With Cesium.com, one can develop data visualizations without programming.

    11) Analytical Graphic Inc’s. System Tool Kit (STK11) is another mission planning tool. 

    A button in the STK11 user interface enables export of a mission model in the Cesium Modeling Language (CZML) format.

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    SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.