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


This competition does not require advanced technical or coding skills. That makes it a great place to dive into the world of data visualization and Earth data! Participants at all skill levels are welcome. So buckle up and launch your space-generated data journey.

Our world is facing many urgent challenges, such as climate change, water insecurity, and food insecurity. Maintaining and improving quality of life around the world requires bringing together innovators across disciplines and countries to find creative solutions.

One critical tool for understanding and improving the urgent challenges facing our world is Earth observation data, meaning data that is gathered in outer space about life here on Earth! Earth observation data provides accurate and publicly accessible information on our atmosphere, oceans, ecosystems, land cover, and built environment. The United States and its partners have a long history of exploring outer space and making satellite, airborne, and in-situ sensor datasets openly available to all.

Your goal in this challenge is to create a visualization using Earth observation data that advances at least one of the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

By participating, you can be part of NASA's initiative to Transform to Open Science and to make Earth observation data available to all.

Competition End Date:

Jan. 26, 2024, 11:59 p.m. UTC

Prizes and recognition
Best Overall
Honorable Mentions for Compelling Visuals
Community Code Bonus Prize

Prize details

Best Overall
The top teams will have the opportunity to participate in a 10-day Space Study program, with travel, lodging, and tuition covered. They will attend the prestigious adult Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and discuss the future of space exploration with U.S. policymakers and innovators in Washington, DC. Previous participants in this program have experienced zero gravity and learned first-hand about the U.S. approach to outer space during visits to the White House, NASA, and the State Department. You can learn more about past participants' experiences here.
There will be at least eight individual winners (a minimum of two teams). Each submission may be authored by an individual or a team of up to four people. More winners may be selected depending on the final determination of the judges.
Honorable Mentions for Compelling Visuals
Submissions with the most compelling visuals will be published in a gallery, and winners will receive digital certificates. Honorable mentions will be selected primarily based on the visual and the summary components of the submission, and including a detailed report is not required to be considered for this prize. See the submission format section for details.
Up to 50 visuals will be selected. Each visual may be authored by an individual or a team of up to four people.
Community Code Bonus Prize

A bonus prize will be awarded to the most helpful contribution to the community code board. The winner will receive NASA swag and a digital certificate, and will be recognized on the DrivenData website.

Judgment will be based on how well the post enables other participants to use Earth observation data to further the key competition SDGs. The emphasis will be on clarity of communication and engagement with other challenge participants. The judges may also consider how much the author has contributed overall to the community code page via other posts.
This will be awarded to one community code post. All posts will be considered and the author is not required to make a formal competition submission to be eligible. One participant must submit the post, but participants are welcome to author a community code post as a team.

How to compete

  1. Click the "Compete!" button in the sidebar to enroll in the competition.
  2. Consider forming a team (maximum size of 4 people). You can find teammates using the competition forum.
  3. Get familiar with the problem through the problem description page.
  4. Generate a visualization using at least one publicly available Earth observation dataset. If you're not sure how to get started, follow the basic steps on the problem description page.
  5. Format your submission according to the submission format.
  6. Click "Submit" in the sidebar, and upload your submission ZIP file. You're in! You can change your submission at any point before the final deadline by removing your previous submission, and then re-submitting a new file.

Remember to post in the competition forum to ask questions about the competition, form teams, and collaborate with other participants.

You are also encouraged to share useful code on the Community Code page, and to use code shared by others.

Competition rules

The Competition Rules are in place to promote fair competition and useful solutions. If you are ever unsure whether your solution meets the rules, ask the challenge organizers in the competition forum or send an email to


Participants can submit individually, or form teams of up to four people. Participants are encouraged to connect with teammates through the competition forum.


Participants who are at least 18 years old and who are able to participate in the Space Study program described above are eligible to win the best overall prize.

There are a few exceptions. Per the Competition Rules, the following groups are not eligible for the best overall prize:

  • participants who are based in the U.S. and are the target of any U.S. trade sanctions
  • participants who are not legally able to travel to the U.S.

All participants are eligible to receive an honorable mention or bonus prize regardless of their country of citizenship or where they are based. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please reach out to DrivenData through the competition forum!

Note: Travel accommodations are subject to cost policies and approvals by the challenge organizers.

Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment, federally-funded researchers acting within the scope of their funding, and past participants of the Space Study program are not eligible to win a prize in this challenge.

For further information on eligibility see the Competition Rules.

This challenge was created on behalf of NASA and the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna (UNVIE), in collaboration with the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).

NASA Tournament Lab logo     UNVIE logo     TOPS logo    

Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory, by Lauren Dauphin, using data from Chen, Shijuan, et al. (2023). Image is a map of when land area in Laos was converted to agricultural use called "shifting cultivation," created using Landsat and GEDI data.