Dictionary of Earth

    The Challenge

    Develop a creative way for the public and scientists alike to learn the definitions of Earth-related scientific and technical terms, using the power of crowdsourcing.


    Aerosol optical depth, free-air anomaly, catchment area, Lagrange points, vicarious calibration… these are a sample of the thousands of “jargon” terms NASA Earth scientists and engineers use every day to talk about their work.
    NASA’s Earth-observing missions study our planet’s atmosphere, vegetation, interior, water, and interaction with the Sun and space. Each of these fields, themselves divided into numerous specialties, is accompanied by its own suite of technical terms. 

    Navigating the resulting accumulation of names and terms is a problem not just for members of the public who want to understand NASA’s work and our planet, but also for scientists and engineers from different fields who want to work together. Having the ability to consult a shared dictionary would allow people to talk in the same language, and help build a deeper understanding of Earth science.

    Your challenge is to develop a creative tool for science enthusiasts and scientists to share and learn the definitions of Earth-related scientific and technical terms. Harness the power of crowdsourcing and allow different users to add and edit entries. Think about how you would monitor the entries for accuracy, and how you would allow proper credit to be given through referencing.  Finally, how will you make exploring the dictionary a fun and interactive experience for all?


    • How can you use NASA data to make entries visual and intuitive? 
    • How can you make single entries easily found, and yet organize entries thematically so that viewers can explore entries within a certain subject area or applicable to a certain NASA mission? 
    • How can you handle the abbreviations and acronyms that are part of many technical terms?

    NASA Logo

    SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.