My 8 year old daughter is fascinated by space and the International Space Station in particular so we made this simple experiment together - mostly to drag her away from jump-roping and Roblox! It lets you explore the millions of photographs which have been taken from the International Space Station since the first mission in late 2000. The latitude/longitude location of each photo taken is plotted and shown in the tracks overlay on top of the Earth. It was a huge amount of fun to work on and now she wants to be an astronaut when she's older. Or a food scientist. Or a singer / actress. Or a vet... Anything except a software engineer :)
Click on a track in the map of the Earth to see all the photos taken within 1 degree of that position as a list of thumbnails. Click on a thumbnail to see a larger version. From there you can either click on the image to open the full size version (often huge) in a new browser window or click the previous/next arrows to step through the mission's photo roll regardless of location. That's a great way to view the spectacular time-lapse image sequences.
There is a check box to turn off the image thumbnails if you are just randomly exploring. Not loading those images from the NASA web server means the larger versions load much more quickly which is really helpful for stepping through sequences.
You maybe noticed the URL updates itself as you use the application so it should be possible to bookmark it and return to the same spot later or share it with friends.
We tried to make it work on mobile devices - especially phones - by changing captions and resizing buttons when the screen dimensions are small but I don't expect it works for everyone. Let me know if there are some blatantly awful use cases.
You can go to an exact Latitude / Longtitude location by typing in the lat/long values.
You can easily get these values from this site.
All the images are loaded directly from the NASA Gateway to Astronaut Photography and can be a little slow sometimes. NASA have been gracious enough to provide us with this amazing resource so please consider trying later on if that is the case.
We didn't spend very long on this so there is likely some bugs and poorly written code. Any cool stuff you see is mine. Any bugs are my daughter's work... Just kidding - it's probably the other way around... :)
Comments, bugs, feedback and of course fixes for out doubtless many mistakes are very welcome - contact details are here
Why is it called ISS Photo Explorer Flat? The first version (and entry for the 2015 NASA Space Apps Challenge) used a WebGL sphere which was nice because it displayed the location of each photo as a 3d point but the updated photo count (1.6 million to 3.5 million) for the most recent mission was too much for it. I did a fair amount of work on it before I decided to switch to this version - if you're interested, you can find the work in progress (and abandoned) here.