Down to Earth

Down to Earth is a web application that aims to actively engage citizens with intangible asteroid research. Through provocation and satire, draws attention to low probability – big impact disaster scenarios, a convenient territory for public manipulation.

From NASA’s plans for a manned mission to Mars to the meteor crash at central Russia in 2013, space research is a topic that appears frequently in mass media and is closely associated with popular imaginaries, making hard to distinguish between fact and fiction. Down to Earth explores the use of metaphors as a way of familiarising citizens with asteroid research. Although there are open and publicly available asteroid data, terminology, scale and effects are incomprehensible to the public at large. Down to Earth takes asteroid data and produces familiar analogies that make the scales and magnitudes easier to comprehend; using locations and the open, collaborative database, the platform finds iconic buildings nearby and compares them with asteroid’s attributes like size, or distance from Earth to deliver meaningful visual data.

Down to Earth then produces scenarios of catastrophe. The user can select an asteroid and a location and cause a fictional coalition, to examine the impact of the incidence. Using the same knowledge database, we retrieve real data about the population density of an area and we measure the deaths caused by this fictional event.

Down to Earth won the People’s Choice Award at the London Space Apps Challenge 2014.



London Space Apps Challenge 2014: People’s Choice Award:
66th International Astronautical Congress, Conference proceedings
Conference presentation: downtoearth_iac_presentation
Top 20 projects at NASA Global Award in Space Apps Challenge