NASA Hackathon for the Future

NASAFor the third consecutive year NASA is holding its International Space Apps Challenge which invites techies, scholars, and entrepreneurs from around the world to take place in a hackathon to discover new approaches to the future of technology and the science of Earth and space.

This weekend, over 90 cities across six continents, including New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Qatar, Greece, New Zealand, Nigeria, the UK, and others, will compete in 40 challenges set forth by NASA in five different categories. The categories include Technology in Space, Earth Watch, Human Spaceflight, Robotics, and Asteroids. Contestants are encouraged to come up with concepts for anything from space wearable accessories to help astronauts on missions, new communications networks to send messages through deep space, to fission reactors in space and an iPhone refracting telescope.

Recently NASA preempted its hackathon by releasing thousands of computer codes for programmers in the US to use in future hopes of someone developing a revolutionary advancement that NASA may have overlooked.

NASA encourages the innovation and entrepreneurship of citizens by sharing their software codes, most of which are available to US citizens through the Tech Transfer program, in order to place the benefits gained from years of space exploration back into the hands of the public, according to NASA officials.

A mission statement on the Space Apps Challenge Website says that the idea of the challenge is so important because it recognizes the serious challenges the world is facing, and the need for the world to work together to overcome them.

NASA will award prizes to each local event in five different categories including, best use of data, best use of hardware, best mission concept, galactic impact, and most inspiring.

Last year, more than 9,000 contestants participated in NASA’s Space Apps Challenge. The groups participating submitted 770 solutions, and of those 770, 134 were nominated for global recognition. One of the six best-in-class awards went to the Space Apps team from Athens, Greece, who won Best Mission Concept for their design of a deployable and reusable spinach greenhouse for use on mars, dubbed ‘Popeye on Mars.’

Other concepts developed in the 2013 Space Apps Challenge included an app developed to compliment NASA satellite climate data with crowd-sourced data to provide better information to monitor the environment. The app was called NASA Greener Cities developed by the team from Gothenburg, Sweden.

NASA is desperately trying to expand their coverage of asteroid detection. Earlier this year a $35,000 cash price was offered up for any citizen scientist to develop a better asteroid-finding algorithm. The Asteroid Data Hunter challenge called out scientists to develop a more efficient program to aid in the detection sensitivity, and decrease the number of false detections, than the programs already implemented by NASA.

This year’s NASA Space Apps Challenge solutions will be judged on Sunday and winners will be announced. The winners will be invited to witness the next space launch. The 2014 NASA hackathon included more countries around the world than either of its predecessors, gaining more gifted minds working together to create solutions for the future

By Cody Long

Space Apps Challenge


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