In 2007, a small group of people began an intentional, collaborative experiment in open, transparent, and direct communication about your space program. Our goal was to enable your direct participation in exploring and contributing to NASA’s mission.

Many of us have since begun new adventures. This site will remain as an archive of the accomplishments of the openNASA experiment.

Nick Skytland

Do you follow any astronauts on Twitter mainly for their photos of Earth from space? Did you know they’re taking those pictures from a space station that travels 5 miles per second? Now there’s an app that calculates photo ops and conditions for photographs, making it much easier for them to capture those photos we all love.

Have you ever looked up and wondered where that space station is? Now, you can use one of many apps to tell you exactly when the space station orbits overhead, and you don’t even need a telescope.

Or have you wondered where on Mars the Curiosity Rover is right now, and how cold it must be? Now, you can find that out from your phone. Sol, the world’s first interplanetary weather app, is now available for download.

Where did all these amazing apps and APIs come from?

Over the past year since the launch of the Digital Government Strategy, NASA has made its data and services more and more accessible to the world. Through technology development events such as the International Space Apps Challenge and the National Day of Civic Hacking, developers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and citizens like you have shaped that data into apps and APIs that more closely connect us to our planet and our universe.

At NASA, most of our questions are rooted in one commitment: to explore, and to connect everyone on Earth to that exploration. How do we make space data more alive and tangible to everyone?

NASA is extremely committed to implementing directives such as the Digital Government Strategy, the Open Government Initiative, and the new Open Data Executive Order. Together, these three directives are important steps forward for government agencies like NASA. They encourage agencies to open up their valuable data to the public and give external developers tools to build new technology and services. They enable us to keep pace with the rapid deployment of mobile technology and rising citizen expectations, and ensure our technology is available to citizens anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Most importantly, at the core of these initiatives is a new approach to how government works and delivers its services to the American people.

In support of the anniversary, NASA has updated the status of all the milestones for the Digital Strategy, released a number of new mobile applications, made more data available through APIs, and created a page for developers looking for more information. We encourage you to check out the following related links. We’ve also included some notable Digital Strategy highlights below.

Notable Digital Strategy Highlights &

NASA engages with the public through a variety of avenues, but perhaps the most relevant to the Digital Strategy initiative is our commitment to open data and open source software. Two platforms, and, serve as the home for the Agency’s efforts in these areas. expands NASA’s open source activities, surfaces existing activities, and guides internal and external groups in open development, release, and contribution. In doing so, NASA hopes to lower barriers to building open technology in partnership with the public. is NASA’s flagship platform for sharing information about the vast stores of data we collect and store, with over 100 years of U.S. aeronautics and space data. Developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, citizen scientists, and many others can contribute directly to the exploration of space and Earth by bringing new perspectives to the data. The Agency continues to work to improve data accessibility and is actively incentivizing the use of government data by citizens. To address the ever-increasing amount of tools and data catalogs that are publicly available on NASA’s many websites, this directory lists publicly available datasets and serves to streamline the process for posting them on The directory includes information and direct links to more than 1,000 datasets.


NASA sees huge promise in web APIs, as they can enhance our ability to deliver data to both established and new audiences. Although the Agency offers petabytes of publicly available data to the world from a variety of missions, only a small portion is accessible through API interfaces. The Digital Strategy mandate directed NASA to use web APIs to make available high-value data and content for at least two existing major customer-facing systems. Examples of NASA-produced APIs include:


The API allows a machine-readable interface to return metadata from the site organized by category, tag, date, or search term. We’re hoping this allows new and creative visualizations of the data resources NASA provides to the public. Additionally, it is a learning experience for us as we work to expand transparency, participation, and collaboration at NASA through new uses of technology.

Earth Observing System (EOS) Clearinghouse (ECHO)

The NASA-developed Earth Observing System (EOS) Clearinghouse (ECHO) is a spatial and temporal metadata registry and order broker built by NASA’s Earth Science Data and Information System (ESDIS) that enables the science community to more easily use and exchange NASA’s data and services. ECHO’s main objective is to enable broader use of NASA’s EOS data. It allows users to more efficiently search and access data and services, and increases the potential for interoperability with new tools and services. The value of these resources increases with the potential to exchange and interoperate. ECHO has been working with other organizations to provide their Earth science metadata alongside NASA’s for users to search and access. ECHO stores metadata from a variety of science disciplines and domains, including Climate Variability and Change, Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems, Earth Surface and Interior, Atmospheric Composition, Weather, and Water and Energy Cycle.

Heliocentric Trajectories Web Services

An API offering heliocentric trajectories for selected spacecraft, planets, and comets.

Satellite Situation Center API

The Satellite Situation Center (SSC) web services allow a software developer to use portions of the SSC software in their own applications. SSC is a system to cast geocentric spacecraft location information into a framework of (empirical) geophysical regions and mappings of spacecraft locations along lines of the Earth’s magnetic field. This capability is one key to mission science planning (both single missions and coordinated observations of multiple spacecraft with ground-based investigations) and to subsequent multi-mission data analysis.

Coordinated Data Analysis System (CDAS) Web Services

The Coordinated Data Analysis System (CDAS) web services allow a software developer to use CDAS services in their own applications. CDAS supports simultaneous multi-mission, multi-instrument selection and comparison of science data among a wide range of current space missions. While CDAWeb provides access to this data through an HTML-based user interface, these web services provides a (web) application programming interface (API) to CDAS. If you are developing an application that requires science data from any CDAS-held datasets, then the CDAS web services will provide an interface to the data for your application.

With constrained budgetary resources and the large, complex, and legacy systems our data is housed in, however, relying solely on NASA data owners to release APIs is not the best approach to opening our data to the world. Thus, our strategy has been to launch a series of challenges and collaboration opportunities to enable citizen developers around the world to help us in our quest to further the transparency and accessibility of NASA data systems. Events like the International Space Apps Challenge create opportunities for thousands of citizen developers from across the planet to contribute their time, and help the agency create front-end APIs for many of our legacy data systems.

NASA has hosted two International Space Apps Challenge events, the first in April 2012 and the second in April 2013. In the 2013 event, over 9,100 participants at over 83 cities around the world created 770 unique, open source solutions for a series of challenges the agency issued. The challenges varied in scope and subject, from creating data visualizations to designing more efficient air traffic control systems to creating new API interfaces for legacy datasets. With relatively little investment from the Agency, dozens of unique APIs were born out of the initiative, many of which are listed below. Going forward, NASA hopes to hold more events like the International Space Apps Challenge in collaboration with our own internal efforts. In adopting these APIs, we can harness the power of citizen collaboration to assist us in reaching our goals.


The ExoAPI is a powerful tool that provides access to exoplanet data through a simple RESTful API. Developed as part of Space Apps Challenge 2012.


This API wraps NASA’s SkyMorph archive in a RESTful JSON interface. Currently, it provides observation and image data from the NEAT survey. Developed as part of Space Apps Challenge 2013.

Asterank API

The Asterank database is a thin layer over the NASA/JPL Small Body Database, merged with JPL Delta-V data, published asteroid mass data, and our own calculations. Developed as part of Space Apps Challenge 2013.


The {MAAS} API is an open source REST API built to make it easier and more efficient to build interactive applications that want to utilize the wealth of weather data being transmitted by the Curiosity Rover on Mars. Our API is built upon the REMS (Rover Environmental Monitoring Station) data provided by the Centro de Astrobiologia (CSIC-INTA). Developed as part of Space Apps Challenge 2013.


Description of system: HORIZONS is a part of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is an online solar system data and ephemeris computation service that provides access to key solar system data and flexible production of highly accurate ephemerides for solar system objects. Through NASA JPL’s HORIZONS system, we have opened up their online solar system data and ephemeris computation service to the web, via a RESTful JSON API. Developed as part of Space Apps Challenge 2013.

The Blue Marble API

The Blue Marble API provides programmatic access to NASA images of the Earth by location. Developed as part of Space Apps Challenge 2013.

Predict the Sky API

We combine global weather data with a comprehensive library of space events, from the International Space Station passing overhead to planets visible to the naked eye. Simple API calls let you find out when the next interesting space events will be visible, from any location worldwide. Developed as part of Space Apps Challenge 2013.

Optimized Mobile Services

As mobile devices continue to count for a larger percentage of overall web traffic in the US, NASA has strived to offer a variety of services in mobile friendly offerings, including via specialized mobile applications, mobile optimized websites, and SMS gateways. The Digital Strategy mandate directed NASA to optimize at least two existing priority customer-facing services for mobile use and publish a plan for improving additional existing services. As with the APIs, however, constrained budgetary resources have contributed to an environment in which relying solely on NASA programs to release mobile interfaces is not the best approach to furthering this objective. Increasing accessibility for our services and optimizing them for mobile users is ongoing work that will continue far into the future. Here are six examples of recently optimized services developed by NASA.

NASA Mobile

The NASA app is the public’s window to the universe. The free app, which aggregates a variety of NASA web content, services and individual apps, and also includes a mobile-optimized website, is available for iPhone and Android devices. It offers live streaming NASA Television coverage of agency missions and events, showcases more than 11,000 images of Earth, the solar system and beyond and even lets users track the International Space Station and learn when the orbiting laboratory will fly over their home.

WebTADS Mobile

WebTADS Mobile is a lighter version of the desktop-based WebTADS developed to provide NASA civil servants with the convenience of recording time when they’re not in the office or connected via VPN.

NASA Contacts

Look up your NASA colleagues’ contact information directly from your phone.


iARC is a mobile app specifically for Ames Research Center that will allow Ames users to search buildings on campus by name or pinpoint on the map, see location relative to their own, and stay informed with the latest news.


Project Morpheus is testing a new NASA spacecraft at the Johnson Space Center, and the iMorpheus iOS app aims to bring you right to the center of the action! iMorpheus streams real lander telemetry from the Christopher C. Kraft, Jr. Mission Control Center and builds a live, real-time 3D simulation during actual engine and performance tests. If the lander isn’t being tested, you can just go to manual and have your own virtual test flight around JSC!!prettyPhoto


The NASA App showcases a huge collection of the latest NASA content, including images, videos on-demand, NASA Television, mission information, news and feature stories, latest tweets, ISS sighting opportunities, satellite tracking, Third Rock Radio, and much more. Mobile offers a mobile optimized version of the frontpage that enables easier navigation for mobile visitors.

If you are interested in more information about NASA’s implementation of the Digital Strategy, we encourage you to check out these related blog posts.