"Map the Debris" - why on Earth?

After 293 tasks this one was a shock for me… I’m not an astronomer and not even physics either… And don’t want to be.
This formula
doesn’t work “from a box”, and I should have to dig this topic in Wikipedia to understand what these thingummies are (GM, orbital periods etc). Why?

I really appreciate this beautiful course, but authors, please - change this challenge to a topic that has something to do with programmers life… Or at least - provide clear formulas I can use without spending my time on the theme I’m not interested in at all.
And I have to confess - this challenge (one from 299) I’ve just “copy paste” from a “freeCodeCamp Challenge Guide: Map the Debris” page.

Challenge: Map the Debris

Link to the challenge:

you could have just gone to the projects, you don’t need to complete challenges if you don’t want to

Yeah, I seem to remember thinking that that challenge could be better written.

But I disagree with “change this challenge to a topic that has something to do with programmers life”. Most jobs will not have you coding about something to do with your life. I routinely have to code things that I don’t understand, as long as I have the specs. But sometimes the specs aren’t well written and you have to do some detective work.

If you think the challenge can be improved, you can discuss it in the Contributors forum or create an issue on the repo.

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this is all you need to solve the challenge


Yeah, I know. But I wanted to use this chance to practice a bit more :slight_smile:

Thanx, I will. It’s good advice.

I’ve read this article. Didn’t help :expressionless:

I don’t think copying from the guide count as practice :thinking:

for more practice, look at the Coding Interview Prep section, there are lots of algorithms and a few data structures that didn’t fit in the certification. Just ignore for now the Take Home Projects.


I like to practice. And so I did with 298 tasks. But I see no reason to become an astronomist :slight_smile:

you don’t have to become an astronomer, you need to find the implementation details in a document in an obscure language tho

that is practice too


My first coding job was for a trucking company. I knew nothing about trucking, transportation, or logistics. I did some research and learned some things as I went, but there were also something I just never understood. Sometimes you just get some acceptance criteria. Sometimes you get a task with just a link to some information that you just have to try to digest. That is how it is sometimes.

If you don’t understand the linked materials or how it relates to the challenge, then reach out to the forum. There is not harm it that. At work, I often have to reach out to product owners or design people for clarifications. Often I have to huddle with other developers to make sure we all understand what is needed.

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That’s what I meant. I’m not interested in astronomy, to spend time digging in a document written in obscure language :wink:

that’s most of the work a programmer does

this is why this challenge is also practice

and also why the Interview Prep Section has a lot of stuff that need research to complete

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Absolutely agree with you about a real work situation. But you are paid for figuring things out. As for this challenge - I prefer to have at least a clear explanation about a task. As it was with the rest of them.

I understand your point of view. But I do not agree with you. A few years ago I’ve finished Gavard’s CS50 - it was splendid, gave me a lot of knowledge and practice. And there never was any unclearness in tasks. If a topic in a challenge was far from coding - every time we were provided with sufficient info to solve this challenge.

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you don’t agree that spending time on documents with obscure language is common? I don’t understand

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No. I don’t agree that a learning challenge doesn’t need clear and sufficient information about the theme because real life is a mess.
I’m glad that this challenge isn’t in the certification section.

Just to make sure I was not talking out of my butt, I just went back and redid the challenge. I did’t peak at the answer. I think I have pretty good math and science knowledge for a layman, but I am no astronomer. Whether or not it is “clear” is subjective, but I just proved (at least to myself) that it is “sufficient”.

I just used the FCC information and that section of the wikipedia page. My first try failed and then I realized how altitude was not the same thing as the axis and why I needed to know the Earth’s radius. That second attempt worked. Actually it was the third attempt because I forgot to round it off.

This is exactly the kind of problem you might get on a job interview. And at work I have had to deal with much more confusingly stated problems as work. I routinely have to deal with data with cryptic labels that I have to figure out how it relates to what I want, and transform it into what I want. This is normal work for me.

Although I agree that the description is a little confusing (I seem to remember struggling a bit on this when I did it the first time), I think the clues are there. True, it is not a 7 piece jigsaw puzzle, ready to go - you need to read and understand and assemble a few of the pieces with the provided materials. I think you can argue that that is not part of “coding”, but I definitely think it is part of being a developer.

But again, if you think it can be improved, start a discussion in the appropriate place. I might suggest holding off on it a bit though. As you get more experience, you perspective might change.


I think this is a reasonable problem.

It’s totally normal to receive a problem description that requires research on your part. At its heart, this challenge is

  1. read the requirements

  2. go to Wikipedia to research the

  3. code the algorithm

  4. debug the algorithm

That’s the software development work flow. Somewhere along the way you might get stuck, but then you insert the step

  • confer with a college about the research or algorithm or debugging

And that is also a totally normal step in real work.

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I’m happy to not agree with you.
It’s a JavaScript course, isn’t it? It is totally OK to be pushed to search on developer.mozilla.org for example, to figure out topics that this course didn’t cover. We have to know how to “use source”.
But what this challenge has to do with my programmer skills? Is this formula

Math.round(2 * Math.PI * Math.sqrt(Math.pow(obj.avgAlt+earthRadius, 3)/GM))

has any value or difficulty to create if only the task had been formulated more clearly? Not at all.
To compare with let’s take the previous challenge - “Make a Person”. It is really cool. We had to figure out how to not step out of

“Object.keys(bob).length should always return 6”

It helped me to understand more about classes.
So I prefer to have more challenges like this one. But not like the strange Astronomy quizzes.