Our Planet, Our Home

    The Challenge

    Compare NASA Earth science data with data about people and tell your own story of human-environment interactions!


    As the human population on Earth grows, we continue to shape and to be influenced by the environments we live in.  What are some ways in which you and your community affect the environment?  How do the local and global environments influence your life; for example, your day-to-day actions, and trends in your community?

    Your challenge is to overlay Earth science data with human dimensions data from resources like NASA's Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Indicators Database, to see if any interesting patterns and stories emerge!

    The SEDAC is a Data Center in NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS).  This center is hosted by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University, New York, USA, and it stores data on several human dimensions of Earth Science. 

    On September 25th 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed to engage all countries and all stakeholders in a collaborative partnership to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.  


    As you develop your solution, consider the following:

    • What makes your story compelling?  Why should others pay attention to these data?
    • How can you show others how conditions have changed over time and across geography?
    • How can you develop new information systems to track, monitor, and report on SDGs at different levels (for example, national, regional, and global)?

    For example: 

    • Consider how deforestation and desertification – caused by human activities and climate variation – have affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world.  You can correlate land cover data with socioeconomic data stored at NASA’s SECAC, and trace the changes in terrestrial ecosystems with the trends in poverty and food security. 
    • In rural areas across the globe, good transport connectivity through road infrastructure and transport services is essential for achieving progress towards sustainable growth.  You can overlay geospatial data with population density data to identify populations who are more than 2 km from all-season road access.

    These examples address the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to build a better future for all people by achieving sustainable development in three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – in the spirit of strengthened global solidarity:

    • Goal 9.1: Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.
    • Goal 11.3: By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries.
    • Goal 15.9: By 2020, integrate ecosystem biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts.

    Think of your own examples to craft stories of human-environment interactions!

    NASA Logo

    SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.