Pale Blue Dot: Visualization Challenge

Use public Earth observation data to create a visualization that furthers the Sustainable Development Goals of zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, or climate action.

Space Study program
jan 2024
1,591 joined

NASA's commitment to open data sharing empowers global efforts to tackle urgent issues, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. It’s exciting to see the innovative solutions being proposed by these diverse teams from around the world.

— Dr. Steve Crawford, Senior Program Executive for Scientific Data and Computing at NASA


Our world is facing many urgent challenges, such as climate change, water insecurity, and food insecurity. One critical tool for addressing these challenges is Earth observation data, meaning data that is gathered in outer space about life here on Earth! Satellite imagery is one example. Earth observation data provides accurate and publicly accessible information on our atmosphere, oceans, ecosystems, land cover, and built environment.

Unlocking the full potential of remotely sensed data requires us to change how we we make scientific discoveries and who is involved. This competition was designed to enable a broader, more diverse audience to engage with publicly available Earth observation data, thereby supporting NASA's initiative to Transform to Open Science (TOPS).

Open science is defined as the principle and practice of making research products and processes available to all, while respecting diverse cultures, maintaining security and privacy, and fostering collaborations, reproducibility and equity.

The Solution

Through the challenge, a whole new community of solvers gained the skills to start solving real-world problems with data generated in space.

Participants created visualizations using Earth observation data that advanced the Sustainable Development Goals of zero hunger, clean water, and climate action. Each submission included an image of a visualization, as well as an explanation of how the participants engaged with broader real-world context and ethical issues. Winners were selected by expert judges based on impact, integrity, technical rigor, usability, and interpretability.

The Results

Almost 1,600 participants representing 104 countries registered for the competition! Solvers studied everything from growing more food along the coast of Bangladesh to identifying good locations for solar panels in the Turks and Caicos Islands — and they did it all using freely available data and tools. Five teams were selected for the Best Overall prize, and will have the opportunity to attend a 10-day Space Study program. Bonus prizes were also awarded for the most compelling visuals and the most helpful community code post.

See the results announcements for more information on the winning submissions and the teams who developed them. All of the prize-winning submissions and write-ups from this competition are linked below and available for anyone to use and learn from.