How would you use a NASA API?

| One of the major focuses of President Obama’s Digital Strategy is to encourage the development and use of API’s for service delivery from government agencies. For those of you who are unfamiliar with API’s, this Quora thread provides a good description. In short, API’s provide an interface for machines to talk with each other. A good example […]

One of the major focuses of President Obama’s Digital Strategy is to encourage the development and use of API’s for service delivery from government agencies. For those of you who are unfamiliar with API’s, this Quora thread provides a good description. In short, API’s provide an interface for machines to talk with each other. A good example would be the Disqus comments openNASA uses. By plugging in to their API, we are able to offer their commenting mechanism on our site. Simple, right?

API’s offer a lot of promise for NASA. We gather a lot of data – about 15 Terabytes per day! That means we brought down almost 2 gigabytes in just the time it took you to read this sentence. Future missions like Destiny could collected 24 Terabytes per day all on their own. As Nick outlined last week, as we collect more and more data, figuring out the best way to distribute, use, and reuse the data becomes more and more difficult. API’s are one way we can significantly lower the barrier of entry to people from outside NASA being able to manipulate and access our public information.

We’re just getting started with APIs, our biggest being the open data API we launched just about one year ago. As part of the digital strategy, we’re committed to making more API’s available (or highlighting the awesome work other people have done to create API’s, like the folks at ExoAPI who created one for Kepler exoplanet data as part of the International Space Apps Challenge). We need your help, though! As we work to share the value of APIs with other’s around the agency, we’d love use cases and reasons why the public would value being able to access NASA data via an API. Have an idea? Want to create something, but need an easier way to access our data to use it? Want a particular dataset API-ized? Let us know! Any comments or feedback you can provide would be immensely helpful as we continue our quest towards a more transparent, collaborative, and participatory agency. Either give your comments below, or email them to me at sean.herron@nasa.gov if you’d rather not share publicly. Thanks for your help!


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