One way of making data approachable is through accessible visualization. The NASA Open Government team recently partnered with members of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) to produce an infographic for their Global Exploration Roadmap.
ISECG describes their effort this way:
“The Global Exploration Roadmap reflects the international effort to define feasible and sustainable exploration pathways to the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, and Mars.”
The Global Exploration Roadmap discusses in detail a framework for interagency discussion, mission scenarios, and strategies for long-range human exploration, we felt it important to represent this information in an accessible style. Our goal has been to distill the essence of the Global Exploration Roadmap into a graphic document that contributes to a conversation that can be had between a 5 and 95 year old. How did we think we could do this? Quite simply we tried answering “where are we going” with a map.
Influenced by 1950’s Disneyland designs, video game visuals, and Peter Pan Neverland maps, we hoped to describe the complexity of international space projects with simple highlights. We began development of the Global Exploration Roadmap infographic by describing it as a treasure map of sorts.
An initial mockup included destinations as stylized islands in a star-filled ocean.
We intended to show dotted paths with X-marks the spot graphics throughout locations in the solar system. Unfortunately, this style didn’t facilitate the amount of information we’d have to show. In a later revision we decided to take a similar approach, scaling back the visual perspective, but chose a more traditional representation of the solar system. We decided to keep the dotted paths and used them as a timeline representation of missions.
After development of the top level design was completed we developed clickable components, descriptions of missions and locations, and animated transitions.
We’ve worked hard to develop an information-rich graphic that you can learn from and share. ISECG plans to enhance the product in the coming year, with more information on the global effort. So here it is. Just click the image below.
NASA is committed to developing solutions that strengthen our international partnerships and contribute to a better world. Like the Global Exploration Roadmap, this infographic will evolve. We look forward to your feedback. We think ISECG says it best:
“By sharing early results of this work with the broader community, space agencies hope to generate innovative ideas and solutions for meeting the challenges ahead.”