Today I’m happy to announce the public alpha release of Apollo17.org, an interactive explorer that allows you to experience the entire Apollo 17 mission (305 hours long) in real-time. It represents the culmination of the years of mission data cleaning I have blogged about here. My goal is to create a full-featured site that will allow the public to explore and experience the Apollo 17 mission in this way.
Version 0.1 is now active which is just a proof of concept. Currently you need a fast computer and a good internet connection to run the experience. Best viewed in Google Chrome (it hasn’t been tested with any other browsers).
- Jump to any point in the YouTube video, and the mission transcript will scroll automatically to that point.
- Click any line in the transcript and the video will jump to that instant.
- For big jumps, click an item in the table of contents (bottom left).
- Interactive visual mission timeline navigation interface (bottom of screen).
- Inclusion of all mission photography (this window).
- Inclusion of post-mission astronaut commentary and other materials.
- Creation of visual designs for final interface, site introduction and ancillary mission information.
- Bookmarking and discussion notes for any timeline moment
Please follow me on twitter for updates @benfeist
How the Site Works
I wrote a Python script that uses a simple templating engine to render out the raw mission data into various HTML files. These files are untouched output from the Python process. Any transcript corrections needed are made to the underlying mission data and the Python rendering process is rerun. This keeps the raw data as the authoritative source of the mission and keeps the interface elements separate from the mission data itself.
The apollo17.org interface is written in HTML/CSS/JS. Currently the utterance window (top left) contains the rendered output of the entire mission (14MB) resulting in quite a heavy amount of processing for the browser. This isn’t a permanent solution, but once I create an interactive timeline interface at the bottom, I can revisit how the data is pulled into the browser for display.
Throughout the creation of this project, the idea of “historical time” has become more and more evident to me. When the mission is played back, we’re reliving seconds that occurred some 42 years ago–to the second. I have created a “Historical Time Difference” element that shows exactly how long ago the moments experienced occurred.
I’ve been working on this project for a long time and am a little too close to it. I would like to hear what it’s like to experience the project with fresh eyes. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment here, or to contact me directly at [email protected]