NASA and IBM Team Up for You to Become a Rocket Scientist in the 2015 Space Apps Challenge

Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA

NASA and IBM have teamed up to stage the “NASA International Space Apps Challenge” in the fourth running of the event. With over 10,000 developers expected to get coding around the world, the objective is to produce a program, app, or even web application over the three days of the competition, which will run in 136 cities in 62 countries, and online, from April 10-12.

This is a three-way collaborative event, with NASA providing data feeds and services, IBM providing a development platform, and the developers (you) providing the ideas and skills to bind everything together into a working program.

Obviously the data and services available from NASA provide developers with an almost unlimited resource for the challenge, so this has been narrowed down into 35 different challenges grouped into four broad categories. Developers can select from an application that analyses the launch process, to creating a control application for robotics to determine when and where it is safe to move.

The broad categories are: Outer Space, Earth, Humans, and Robotics. Within the categories the challenges are ranked in degrees of difficulty from easy through intermediate to advanced. Looking at some of the advanced challenges, it would be difficult for an experienced developer to create a working project in three weeks—let alone three days—so there may be quite a challenge to most.

Some of the specific challenges are:

3-2-1 LIFTOFF: LAUNCH THAT ROCKET!

3-2-1 LIFTOFF: LAUNCH THAT ROCKET!
Image credit: NASA

3-2-1 LIFTOFF: LAUNCH THAT ROCKET!
Develop an experience that captures all the variables involved with making the launch decision.Create a way to analyse the data from the rockets, weather, range safety, and more. Enable the user to decide when to tank, when to clear the range and airspace, and how to detect weather disturbances that could affect launch. Choose a platform to convey the experience: game, video, roadmap site, comic, or whatever you can think of!Click here for more details

ASTEROIDS 2025-2100 – FUTURE HISTORY
NASA is looking for creative ways to show the value of asteroids as a destination for exploration that are just as valuable as the Moon and Mars in terms of developing space infrastructure, as they have no gravity well.Your task is to imagine a future history catalyzed by the ARM mission. We’d like for you to develop a digital experience that dramatizes the development of human progress in the solar system using asteroids as a stepping stone to the Moon, Mars and ultimately, the stars.Click here for more details

DEEP SPACE CAMSAT

DEEP SPACE CAMSAT
Image credit: NASA

DEEP SPACE CAMSAT
Design and model a feasibility demonstrator of a nano-satellite (e.g. cubesat) that can orbit and take pictures of deep space spacecraft during events of interest, e.g. planetary flybys.Find creative ways to:
Design a cubesat that hosts an imaging payload for recording events of interest for a deep space mission, e.g. separation events (release of landers), planetary flybys.Click here for more details 

The developer is not left on their own though. For each category there are a number of sample resources that are suggested for use. There is a detailed background as to what the problem to be solved is, as well as a number of bullet points for the recommendations as to the potential objectives of a number of different applications.

For developers wanting to build online or platform independent applications using Cloud technology, IBM is providing the Bluemix development toolset—a series of building blocks that handle the majority of the complex underlying operations, freeing up the developer to translate their ideas into technology. This means, for instance, that a developer does not need to know how to read data from NASA; they just specify the feed and Bluemix will handle retrieving the information. The developer then processes the data as required for their problem and writes the results again using Bluemix.

IBM Bluemix application development platform

IBM Bluemix application development platform

The Bluemix system determines what type of hardware the application is running on and then handles all the input, output, and screen display. This frees the developer to concentrate on the core problem-solving aspects of the application, rather than be concerned with the mundane aspects of adapting it for each particular device it will run on.

For more information on IBM’s Bluemix click here.

The NASA International Space Apps Challenge will be judged by a panel of NASA judges who will be selecting winners from the best two entries from the 136 cities in the following categories: Best Mission Concept, Best Use of Hardware, Best Use of Data, Most Inspiring, and Galactic Impact. IBM will also be distributing 30 awards at the local events for the most innovative use of Bluemix.

“The NASA International Space Apps Challenge is at the forefront of innovation, providing real-world examples of how technology can be used to by the best and brightest developers in the world to solve some of the most daunting challenges facing our civilization,” said Sandy Carter, General Manager, Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, IBM. “Using the IBM Cloud, IBM is making it easier for developers to solve NASA challenges by helping them leverage and make sense of data in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even just a few years ago.”

Developers interested in participating in the challenge, which runs from April 10-12, can register at https://2015.spaceappschallenge.org/

For more information on the 2015 NASA International Space Apps Challenge, click here.

 

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