Nasa Space Apps Hackaton

A fully developed SaaS website. Built and submitted to the Nasa Space Apps Challenge in less than 96 hours.

We built a tool that lets celestial bodies scientists explore how the shape of an asteroid affects the appearance of its light curve.

Scientists want to discover the shape of Trojan asteroids by examining their light, but cannot determine their shape because they only appear as tiny bright lights of the earth. Click here for more information

We adopted an agile process and developed an astronomy simulation tool in 4 days

The tool we built lets celestial bodies scientists explore how the shape of an asteroid affects the appearance of its light curve by letting scientists:

  • Freely move the 3D asteroid, and examine how its shape determines its brightness and rotational phase

  • Access its properties on the same screen

  • Change its brightness with the lighting controls

  • Study shapes of available asteroids in Nasa’s database

We created a persona for our main user, based on Online Research

We wanted to form a deeper understanding of our users' goals, needs, experiences, and behaviors. We kept updating the personas throughout the project as we gathered more data from some interviews later on. We used these personas whenever we wanted to step out of ourselves and reconsider our initial ideas

Nasa Space Apps Hackaton

We summed up all requirements through a brainstorming session

We wrote down everything we knew about the context, categorized all stickies into sections, and defined some of the next challenges:

  • Tasks needed to achieve the goal

  • Features needed

  • Asteroid's behaviors

We then wrote a hypothesis statement

"Build a tool that allows Lucy Spacecraft users to understand the rotational phase and brightness of an asteroid, by changing its light, and position from the animation tools"

Nasa Space Apps Hackaton

We picked features by prioritizing by impact and effort

As we were short on time, we had to decide which features in the tool would have the highest impact and lowest effort. We placed all of feature ideas into a MVP

We also did map out a flow before sketching solutions

Nasa Space Apps Hackaton
Nasa Space Apps Hackaton

After translating my sketches into wireframes, we began user testing

Using Figma, I translated my first sketches into low-fidelity wireframes. Then, I improved them by adding a few relevant stock images and copies provided by the marketing team. At this stage, the wireframes were defined enough for some user testing. Based on 1 set of iterations, I’ve made a few alternations and moved on to creating high-fidelity prototypes

Participants found the animation controls confusing

After going through a few iterations internally, I recruited some students from the Space science and Astronomy, University program of Turin. I created a fully-functional, high-fidelity prototype of the new flows using Figma. At the same time, I recruited some students from the Space science and Astronomy, University program of Turin. We did 1 round of usability tests, and identified a few issues:

3D Animation controls

We found that users have not understood how they can generate the light curve by moving the lighting controls and the asteroid.

Generating the light curve confusion

Participants could not figure out what to do to make the light curve chart enable

Nasa Space Apps Hackaton

We solved that by adding a "play" button"

Because the light curve graph needs a 360-degree rotation, we've added a play button to make it happen for users and added an onboarding to show how it's done.

Nasa Space Apps Hackaton

To ensure people would understand how to generate a light curve, we also added an "onboarding"

We iterated this solution two or three times on the third day and finally proceeded with the final high-fidelity prototype

Nasa Space Apps Hackaton

We created a small design system and re-created a new style for the visuals.

As we were finishing the user interface, our developer had already started working on some of the patterns we gave him. This approach helped us deliver the tool rapidly in 4 days.