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26 September 2011, 10:50

NASA's open source space applications challenge

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NASA, the US space agency, is organising an international open source application competition next year which it hopes will deliver a new generation of software to address global issues. The agency plans to liaise with other space agencies to create the International Space Apps Challenge that will encourage "scientists and concerned citizens" to create new solutions using open technology, open data and open source.

Examples of applications given by NASA fall into two classes, those related to helping humanity on a local or global basis, for example, examining the weather's impact on the global economy and the depletion of ocean resources, and those focused on space exploration, such as using crowdsourcing to help visualise and analyse data from space missions. NASA expects the projects to develop collaborative platforms and enable crowdsourced analysis.

Currently the challenge is collecting ideas for problems to be tackled, after which they will seek experts in those problems to map the ideas to data sets and other tangible information. There will then be a one-off two-day event held in several cities around the world, in the style of Random Hacks Of Kindness (a regular global event which takes place twice a year in 20 cities), which will see hackers and others attempt to take the expert plans and turn them into usable open source solutions.


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