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© Azuravesta Design 2019

Planetary Satellites of the Solar System

When we think of "moon," we automatically think of the beautiful white orb in the night sky; however, there are hundreds of other moons, also called planetary satellites, within our solar system. What is it like on one of these other moons? Let's find out. . .

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Challenge

Simplify a complex set of data into a visual representation that makes the most important information easily understood

A satellite is any moon, planet, or machine that is in orbit around a planet or star. Although satellites are typically associated with the man-made spacecraft that orbit our Earth, there are far more satellites in our solar system. Most of these are natural satellites, or moons, that can be found orbiting other planets. We, humans, tend to look far beyond our solar system to search for life or for interesting celestial objects; however, closer scrutiny may reveal that our own solar system is far more diverse than realized. The data for this piece was taken primarily from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at NASA, specifically their Solar System Dynamics website, for the purpose of exploring the wonders of planetary satellites.

Client: Prof. Andrea Gautier, University of Toronto

Format: Data Visualization, Illustration

Software: Tableau, Excel, Illustrator

Ideate

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It started out something like this...

Which I organized into this...

Once I had the data, I needed to figure out which variables and properties are the most important and interesting to a general lay audience. After playing around with the variables and design, I realized that the raw data could be made more relevant to the audience with some additional steps.

This meant I had to become reacquainted with the gravitational equation! It took a while to brush up on my physics, but eventually I came up with some equations to calculate how much an average human would weigh and how high an average human could jump on the 10 largest moons. It makes for a fun mental picture, no?

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I then imported the final excel document into Tableau to create graphs using the variables that I decided on.

Process

The graphs and visualizations created in Tableau were exported as PDFs, which were then brought into Illustrator. I played around with various ways to show the data before settling on the final layout.

Close-Ups

In the end, this project is meant to intrigue, inspire, and inform those who are interested in astronomy and learning about our solar system. The final format chosen was a large 50” by 30” wall poster that would be hung up in an office or room for display. 

One Step Further

We were given the option to expand on this project in order to develop an interactive data visualization. I was going to develop a website to communicate this information, but after mulling it over for a while, I thought that a more fun and engaging way to educate a lay audience would be through a video game!

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For accessibility and ease of use, I designed a platformer game for mobile. After brainstorming and creating low-fidelity mockups, I designed a user interaction board to describe the navigation:

Due to time constraints, I only created the prototype for the opening screen and first level; however I would love to develop this idea further in the future!