Asteroid Explorer Launched

On Monday, we launched Asteroid Explorer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Jeremy (@jrwashley), DJ, Kris Robison and I attended the launch event, which you can watch here. My part of the presentation begins at 36:36.

This event was the culmination of NASA’s Asteroid Hackathon event back in October. Remember that?

Here’s the event abstract:

Abstract: In October 2014, NASA’s Asteroid Hackathon event was hosted (with several other NASA partners) at the SETI institute in Mountain View, California. Team NOVA’s overall winning solution for this hackathon allowed users to explore relationships among the Minor Planet Center’s asteroid data. The elegant interface was not just eye-catching, the repeated learning that hackathon participants experienced in the “science fair” portion of judging greatly impressed the judges. More than once, people discovered relationships among asteroid data parameters that they didn’t previously know about. A perfect outcome for one of the primary goals: to increase public knowledge of asteroids. Dr José Luis Galache (Acting Deputy Director, Minor Planet Center) and DJ Ursal (Director, Product Management at Oracle) teamed up together through the Oracle Volunteering initiative to implement the winning entry from the Asteroid Hackathon on the Minor Planet Center website. On June 8th they will be launching the website as part of the for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics’s Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences division seminar series. The team will be discussing this project as it relates to cooperation between the Minor Planet Center, NASA, Oracle Volunteering, and its goal to inform and involve the general public.

This volunteer effort is a great success, and the result is well received and appreciated by the astrophysicists attending the launch event.


Jeremy Ashley, GVP Oracle Applications User Experience, speaking at the launch of Asteroid Explorer

The NASA Grand Challenge program executive Jason Kessler (@soughin) was at the White House, talking up the Asteroid Hackathon and this volunteer work there, before calling into the event via Skype.


The event was live broadcast through the Minor Planet Center’s YouTube channel, and the audience at the Center was mostly astrophysicists.

On the roof-top of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, there are several telescopes, including the famous Harvard Great Refractor. But we liked this cute mini Astro Haven.


A bit about Asteroid Explorer, the main part of the web tool utilizes Crossfilter, D3.js and Highcharts. I processed Asteroid data into proper slicing, grouping to feed into Crossfilter to render the interactive filter bar charts and tables; also, I created bubble chart to render series of property data for looking into correlation of any pair of properties, and dynamically react to filter bar charts range slider.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 11.48.36 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 11.49.58 PM

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