Meteorite Map

Meteorite Map mockup

The Goal

Meteorite Map was a weekend project I created to play around with NASA's open data API. There are so many interesting resources to pull from their data bank that the hardest part of this project was deciding which data to use! I've always been intrigued by the amount of unknown objects entering our atmosphere unbeknownst to us so I decided that a map displaying this information would be right up my alley. The end goal was to have an animated world map that showed each meteorite (over 1kg in mass) that has struck the Earth in chronological order.

The Site

The site is extremely basic and utilizes some frameworks that were not entirely necessary but definitely aided in the rapid prototyping of a weekend project. Bootstrap, jQuery, and the Google Maps API are the underlying technology running the site. While developing the site I found that the nearer you were to the present, the more frequent meteorite discoveries were (duh). This would not have been an issue if I was not using a static delta for the time between each meteorite animation trigger. Since I was, once you would reach the late 1800s, the amount of meteorites discovered annual were taking far too long to be displayed. I introduced a logarithmic delta algorithm to slowly increased the delta speed as the years progressed to solve the problem.

My favorite discovery during the development of this project was that not only do you get to witness the history of unknown space objects interacting with our planet, you also get a glimpse into the expansion and exploration of Western society. You can follow westward expansion in the United States via the increase in recorded meteorites through the early to late 1800s. This is also true for the colonization of South America and British expansion into Africa, Asia, and Australia.

The Tools

  • Google Maps API
  • NASA open data API
  • jQuery
  • Bootstrap + LESS