Seventy-six hours of uninterrupted around-the-world hacking on NASA challenges kicked off in Doha, Qatar, at midnight on Friday night local time, April 11, and ended in Seattle at 6 p.m, local time, April 13, as more than 8,000 tech-savvy citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators and students gathered in 95 locations around the globe and online for NASA’s third annual International Space Apps Challenge.
During the event, participants offered over 626 solutions covering 40 different challenges representing NASA mission priorities. The challenges were organized into five themes: Earth Watch, Technology in Space, Human Spaceflight, Robotics, and Asteroids.
Lawrence Friedl, director of the NASA Applied Sciences Program in the Earth Science Division at NASA Headquarters, attended the Kansas City, Mo. event where they more than doubled the number of participants from last year. The teams focused on Asteroid Imagery, Earth as Art and Space Wearables.
“The Kansas City event brought together the growing technology, software development, and design communities here to generate ideas and collaborate,” said. “They were really supportive of the government’s open data efforts and really enthusiastic to contribute ways to connect space to people and people to space.”
Team Skyfall from Kansas City, in response to the Earth as Art challenge, worked on a user friendly website called Yorbit that displays photos that have a personal connection to the user.
Another NASA priority is the Asteroid Initiative, which was represented with seven new challenges, including one to Make Your Own Asteroid Movie, bringing an artistic flair to the weekend event.
Jason Kessler, program executive for the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge, noted there were 90 asteroid-related projects submitted during the weekend. “Teams submitted ideas including how to better communicate information about specific asteroids, how to harness the power of citizen scientists photographers to find near-Earth objects, and creating an asteroid game,” said Kessler.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center focused on three specific challenges: Space Wearables, Growing Food for a Martian Table, and Asteroid Prospector. A mix of electrical engineering students from the University of Central Florida, 3D simulation modelers who graduated from the International Academy of Design and Technology, and a life-cycle systems engineer visiting from Italy made up the participants. Team Spacewear won the KSC location award with their prototype astronaut helmet that sends and receives data and vital signs via web and text messages.
During the event, NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli participated in a Google+ Hangout with Kessler and Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, which was hosted by Deborah Diaz NASA's deputy chief information officer.
"We have serious challenges in front of us and NASA can't do it alone. We need everyone to come with us. The International Space Apps Challenge is a great way to get people involved," said Stofan during the Hangout.
Each location nominated projects for global judging. Winners from those projects will be announced in May.
For more information about the 2014 International Space Apps Challenge, visit here.