NASA led the second annual International Space Apps Challenge, which turned out to be the largest mass collaboration in history. This global hackathon united over 9,000 people in 83 locations throughout 44 countries. They answered challenges with their open source solutions that NASA and other government organizations and academia can use in their research.
The results? Teams submitted 770 solutions! Judging is still underway, and winners will be announced on the Space Apps website and the Open NASA blog on May 22. Apps have been seen that connect people to the path of the International Space Station and the latest updates from the Voyager missions, track microbes in buildings, monitor air traffic, and graph out wind tunnel data, to name a few.
The press coverage has also been highly encouraging, especially in communities with no previous investment in space technology. From Norman, OK to Kathmandu, Nepal, NASA has spread the word of innovating and collaborating with space enthusiasts everywhere. Visit the press page for a collection of worldwide reporting.
And those are just the tangible results. What rarely shows up on assessments of new initiatives like the Space Apps Challenge are the intangible results that are just as real. At the main stage event in Philadelphia, for example, a ninth grader arrived on Saturday morning, unsure of what he could contribute, and almost left. Astronaut Leland Melvin talked him out of it, and the student ended up being on one of Philadelphia’s winning teams! The joy on his face and the look in his father’s eyes as the winning teams were announced is reason enough to organize these events. Inspiration like that is also the reason people go on to become engineers and astronauts, and provide the world with the next big innovation. See Leland interview him on YouTube.
For more information and updates, visit spaceappschallenge.org and open.NASA.gov.