10 Amazing Finds on NASA’s Data Portal

May 15, 2017 12:00 pm PST | Data as a Service

NASA has devoted itself to peaceful applications in space science for nearly six decades. From the Apollo moon landing missions to the Skylab space station to the Space Shuttle, the agency has always focused on several core questions:

  • What’s out there in space?
  • How do we get there?
  • What will we find?
  • What can we learn there, or by trying to get there, that will make life better on Earth?

And, today, NASA’s 17,000 employees continue this scientific research in an effort to see the farthest reaches of the universe, while pushing the boundaries of human space flight farther from Earth than ever before. Indeed, the agency is developing new capabilities to send future human missions to an asteroid and Mars.

NASA open data portal

NASA’s data portal shares updates on all its projects, as well as offering open, API-enabled data on its findings. Working with Socrata, NASA updated its open data portal and strengthened its API, making it even easier for developers and researchers to use NASA’s data for analysis and app development. Socrata also helped support NASA’s recent International Space Apps Challenge, the world’s largest hackathon, which unfolded in 187 locations and 69 countries around the globe.

Here are 10 highlights from NASA’s new website:  

  1. Earth-Friendly Data: NASA wants to spark creative juices and equip people with datasets, tools, and resources to solve looming challenges here on Earth. That’s why they offer 32,089 datasets, 328 code repositories, and 51 APIs.


  1. 3D Modeling: In order to protect NASA astronauts who are embarking on next-gen missions, NASA has to build a new class of space suit and a new Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) that can house two astronauts for up to 14 days with sleeping and sanitary facilities. NASA is sharing data on both these cutting-edge projects on its updated site.  


  1. Astonishing 24×7 Pictures of Earth: Unique daily imagery data taken by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) is now accessible via a RESTful API. EPIC is an instrument aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s DSCOVR satellite, which maintains a stable position between the Earth and Sun and, thus, a continuous view of the sunlit side of Earth.


  1. The Sounds of Space: NASA’s audio library contains a wide array of sounds from outer space, including eerie sci-fi sounding beeps and whirs.


  1. The Datanauts: Datanaut volunteers are using NASA data, tools, techniques, and subject matter experts to help NASA grow a robust ecosystem of data problem-solvers. The spring 2017 class of Datanauts represents a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and technical expertise.


  1. Survival on Mars: Astronauts might have to use lava tubes one day as shelter from dust storms and space radiation on Mars. Who knew? NASA invites site visitors to develop and play a game that generates real data on potential lava tube locations, which NASA can analyze.


  1. Rocket Launch: The updated NASA site also offers the opportunity to develop an experience that captures all the variables involved with making a launch decision. This means analyzing data from rockets, weather, and range safety and creating a game or video.


  1. Crowdsourcing Satellite Data: Every day, satellites transmit enormous volumes of images of the Earth, but scientists are unable to analyze all this imagery. NASA wants people to use this satellite data to develop a crowdsourcing app that will show the discovery of interesting natural events as observed from space — such as wildfires burning, volcanoes erupting, or icebergs cracking.


  1. Global Engagement: NASA’s work has global reach. A Nicaraguan mother and son built an app that increased awareness about the International Space Station (ISS), and a woman in Guatemala has written about the importance of NASA innovation everywhere on the planet.


  1. Asteroid Protection: A Near Earth Object (NEO) is any small solar system body whose orbit brings it into proximity with Earth. We’re surrounded by these objects — more than 40,000 asteroids, 1,000 comets, and some space debris. And, these NEOs can be a real danger to life on Earth. NASA wants people to develop a hypothetical method, concept note, or simple prototype that shows how machine learning can be used to recognize and classify potential NEO’s that could impact Earth. Yes, the future of the planet is in your hands.


Learn More

Interested in getting your most interesting, useful, and inspiring data out to the public? Contact Socrata at info@socrata.com.