The goal of our project is to take the amazing Earth imagery that NASA has available and create a simple programming interface that any developer can use. It's a RESTful API supporting JSON and XML that's self-documenting and available now at the link provided. We've created multiple client-facing devices to demonstrate the power of the API including a website, a twitter account, and a GIF creator. If we can do this in a weekend, just imagine what the community can do with the Big Marble API!

This project is solving the The Blue Marble challenge.


The project came to be when a couple members of our team tried to use the NASA websites to find images of their houses from space. After much frustration, we found pictures but were unhappy with the presentation and with the overall difficulty of obtaining the information. The pictures we found were incredible and we decided to create a way for everyone from the 8 year old child to the computer programmer to the space enthusiast to be able to access what the NASA program worked so hard to obtain.

Our idea is to create different ways to access this information, with the foundation being a versatile API. This API is cross-platform and extensible enough to handle adding new images from other sources. The simplest way to use it is to provide a location (address, point of interest, region) and it will return all of the images taken from space showing that location.

We created a website to demonstrate this functionality. It's so elegantly simple and familiar to anyone who has used Google before. Type in a location and it returns all of the images showing that location.

Next, we wanted to follow Commander Hadfield's lead and reach people socially, bringing these amazing pictures right to them through social media. We created a Twitter account using our API to post regular updates of random locations on Earth.

Finally, we created a tech demo of a movie generator to show just one more thing that can easily be accomplished with our API. It stitches together sequential images taken on missions to make videos that show fly-overs of various locations.

The take-away we want from this project is that we've set up a ridiculously simple way to access these images of Earth. We want to pass this API on to the community and see how creative they can be now that the barrier to access these pictures has been removed. We hope you're as excited about this project as we are!

Project Information

License: GNU General Public License
Source Code/Project URL:


The Big Marble Website - a simple Google-like UI to search for images given a location or address -
The Big Marble Twitter Account - Regular pictures of the Earth taken directly from NASA's database -
Big Marble API Interface and Documentation -