Pale Red Dot

People's Choice Nominee

Pale Red Dot received a People's Choice Nomination.


Develop a web tool, mobile device app or add-on for existing apps or websites that leverages NASA imagery and climate data to illustrate the impacts of our changing Earth in areas of interest to you. Some ideas to explore include:

  • Use NASA Earth observations data, social media, smart phones, and Short Message Service (SMS) text phones to collect Earth observations and connect public in local, regional, and national networks to communicate about our changing planet.
  • Examine current natural events curated by NASA’s EONET (Earth Observatory Natural Event Tracker) by browsing global historical and near real-time imagery from space.
  • Upload images or other data points demonstrating visible observations and how they compare to satellite data. For example, generating early-warning alerts or validating precipitation rates reported from NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement Mission.
  • Integrate NASA imagery with a mobile assistant to allow for dynamic image generation based on a basic request structure.

Engaging with Climate Change can be difficult for many people. It is a phenomenon that is recognised on a global scale, yet:

- It is difficult to find locally relevant and meaningful information

- Whilst there is a general consensus that climate change has been accelerated by human actions, many are still apathetic on the issues as they do not see how it relates to them personally

- It is difficult to understand the minutiae of detail behind climate change as many of the facts and information require deep scientific or technical knowledge.

See here for presentation slides: S...

Our team set out to understand how we could develop a locally relevant perspective to climate change, to allow the public to engage with the issue in a meaningful manner to act as a catalyst for change.

We spent the first night of the competition researching the issues associated with climate change. We found that there were limited resources available that allowed the average person to understand how climate change has had an effect on them personally. Whilst there was an abundance of information available, it:

- Was difficult to interpret without specialist knowledge

- Was hard to consume or access, as it typically required usage of non-intuitive tools with poor design

- Often was not fit-for-purpose. Data was often of insufficient detail or lacking appropriate synthesis to have climatic relevance.

Our solution, Pale Red Dot allows users to visually interpret the changing climate patterns in their local area in a simple and easy to understand manner. As a minimum viable product we developed the application using weather station datasets for our local region, providing users with the functionality to explore changing patterns in temperature using a Google Maps visualisation.

As a next step we would seek to significantly enhance the dataset to apply on a global scale with additional measures and detail, provide an enhanced user experience and consider what opportunities we can have to help users of Pale Red Dot take further action such as through crowdfunding and information on how they can become more actively involved.

'Pale Red Dot' is a play on the famous expression by Astronomer Carl Sagan, who requested that Voyager 1, one of the most important space probes in human history, would turn its camera around after it had completed its mission and take one last picture, of our own planet Earth. The picture took up a single pixel in the photograph, appearing as a pale blue dot. Sagan famously stated that every person and event in existence had occurred in that single pixel.

We named our concept Pale Red Dot as it represents the bleak future we are hoping to avoid - a planet marred by chaotic weather, natural disasters and living conditions. It is our hope that our planet never progresses into a 'Pale Red Dot', but this can only be achieved through human intervention, which ultimately rests on everyone understanding how climate change is relevant to themselves, their children, and their grandchildren.

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