Space Apps Challenge 2014
April 4, 2014

2014 Space Apps Challenge Set For Weekend Of April 12

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are looking for individuals and teams willing and able to brainstorm ingenious new ways to use the data provided by satellites, astronauts and experiments as part of the annual International Space Apps Challenge initiative.

The International Space Apps Challenge is described as an international mass collaboration that emphasizes space exploration and takes place over a span of 48 hours. Anyone who is interested in participating can join a local event in one of several cities worldwide (or launch their own) and work on new applications, concepts or novel solutions to numerous problems using NASA data to advance space exploration or enhance life on Earth.

“Satellites, astronauts and experiments are constantly observing our planet and beaming information back to us,” the ESA said in a statement Thursday. “Combining this wealth of information in new ways requires imaginative thinking – and the International Space Apps Challenge is challenging us to think of novel solutions using space.”

“The challenges this year are divided by theme: technology in space, human spaceflight, asteroids, Earth watch and robotics,” the agency added. “From turning your smartphone into a satellite to monitor air quality, to designing a space-greenhouse – there are challenges to fit everyone’s skill and interest.”

There are over 100 different events being hosted on five continents during the weekend of April 12, including ones being hosted by the ESA in Rome, Italy and Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The US, Canada, Mexico, Greece, Ireland, Bolivia, New Zealand, France, Australia and South Africa are also among the nations hosting events, and a Google hangout featuring ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli and NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock is also scheduled.

“The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space,” the event website said. “This year we have 40 challenges and 25 projects from last year's Space Apps that support NASA's mission directorates in five themes: Earth Watch, Technology in Space, Human Spaceflight, Robotics and Asteroids. NASA is leading this global collaboration along with a number of government collaborators and 100+ local organizations.”

Among the winners in 2013 was the Greener Cities Project, which was honored in the “Galactic Impact” division. The Gothenburg, Sweden team behind Greener Cities set out to complement NASA satellite climate data with crowd-sourced microclimate data obtained through low-cost sensors, network connectivity and urban gardens, thus providing higher resolution environmental monitoring capability.

The Kansas City-based Sol project, which was described as the world’s first interplanetary weather application, was honored in last year’s International Space Apps Challenge for Best Use of Data, the US space agency announced last May. Sol allows users to select a planet and view the weather on that world.

The ISS Base Station, a hardware-software set made by researchers in Philadelphia, won Best Use of Hardware for expanding the Spot The Station Web app and allowing for physical data manifestation. A deployable, reusable spinach greenhouse for Mars, won its Athens, Greece-based team Best Mission Concept, while a mobile app created for use by ISS astronauts, won its London creators Most Inspiring honors.