SpaceDecode is a platform that addresses The Blue Marble Challenge by using the following: * A web crawler that finds and index space exploration images onto our databases; * An API that allows developers to use the data we've collected on their own applications; * A web application to allow users to geo-tag, share, like and help describe the images; * A Blackberry 10 mobile application with similar functionality to the web app; * Social integration and crowd sourcing (share, like, comment)

This project is solving the The Blue Marble challenge.


Extended Project Decription

SpaceDecode aims to raise space exploration awareness (also addressing the blue marble challenge) by using artificial intelligence to find images that relate to NASA's missions and operations, and make them globally accessible in a simple and fun way. Wondering how we do it?

First: Web Crawler

To insure the sustainability of the project (in terms of data), we have decided not to use the images that were provided as CSV files on the Space Apps Challenge website. Reason being that if we rely on using data that is already nicely packaged for us, the platform will never be entirely self sustaining. So, we decided to create a web crawler using techniques and algorithms that are used by most search engines. This crawler hops from one website to another finding and indexing images. It also uses meta data attached to the images to tell if an image is suitable for the platform;

Second: The API (Application Programming Interface)

We have developed an API that exposes the data that we collect to other applications (and application developers) in popular formats such as JSON. By using open source technologies such as Apache Lucene, we have implemented (and continuing to do so) search capabilities that allow developers to access data using different conditions such as size, geo-location etc. Want proof? Well, the mobile app you saw on the video above is built using our own API;

Third: Web Application

To socially engage people, we have also built a web application that allows people to interact with these images and share with other people using our platform. This application also allows users to contribute what they know about these images. Whether it's a description or geo-location, we have got it all covered and we are continuing to build fun features that will attract more people into using our system;

Fourth: Mobile Applications

We are also Developers, and to prove that our API is capable (even though it's still under construction), we have built a BlackBerry 10 and Windows 8 mobile applications (the latter is still under construction) using our API. This was also to prove that we can support any platform since we adhere to the web standards and produce data in a format that any platform is able to interact with.

From myself (Sithembiso Khumalo) and my team, I would like to thank NASA and it's partners for giving us an opportunity to be part of what is known to be the biggest collaboration in the history of the world. I'd furthermore like to thank our sponsors, Afrihost ( for providing us with their state of the art servers to make this project a success.

Greetings from South Africa!

The Team

  • Sithembiso Khumalo
  • Lebogang Ratsoana
  • Ernest Mashele
  • Vutlhari Rikhotso

Project Information

License: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0
Source Code/Project URL:


Blackberry 10 Mobile Application -
Web Application -
API (will give you a list of data about images as a demo) -