Presentation: JavaScript in Space (Or, There and Back Again)



5:25pm - 6:15pm

Day of week:




From servers to game consoles, JavaScript is taking over the Earth. So, the next logical step... is space! Thanks to a confluence of cheap and powerful technologies, the "final frontier" is even more accessible than ever.

This presentation will tell the story of how a group of hackers used JavaScript, a Raspberry Pi, ham radios, and more to launch a camera­equipped weather balloon from the Mojave Desert into near­space­­ and to recovered it. While launching a balloon high into the air is as simple as filling it up and letting it go, gathering useful data and recovering your hardware is a much more difficult problem. Using JS libraries such as Johnny­Five, we were able to successfully pull in telemetry, gather useful sensor readings, and track our balloons path from the ground.

Starting from the project's inception during a hackathon, we will see how a simple idea ("Can we take a picture of the Earth from near­space?") evolved. Initially conceived as using purely off­the­shelf components, we'll talk about how JavaScript's power led to the creation of a custom software library (Nyanpollo ­see for gathering data and interfacing with our payload (as well as the various JS libraries that software makes use of). We will talk about the practical difficulties of interfacing with hardware, and how it can go wrong­­ sometimes explosively! Finally, we'll take a look at the data we brought back, as well as actual video from the mission. And, we'll see if we managed to get that picture of the Earth.

In addition to the technical aspects, this presentation endeavors to instill a sense of adventure­­ of taking a technology out of its usual setting, such as the browser, and using it in exciting unexpected ways. The ubiquity and flexibility of JavaScript makes it uniquely suited for this task.

Speaker: Dan Harden

Lead Frontend Engineer @zappos


Monday, 13 June

Tuesday, 14 June

Wednesday, 15 June