NASA Enthusiasts Address Global Challenges

How do you solve today’s ecological, health, and planetary challenges in just two days? The short answer to this question is by participating in NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge. ‘Space Apps’ is a hackathon that occurs over a 48 hour-period in cities around the world. This year’s event, Space Apps’s 6th anniversary, attracted over 25,000 participants from 69 countries. Coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, builders, technologists, and pretty much anyone else who is enthusiastic about space came together to address some of the toughest challenges we face on Earth and in space!

The goal of the Space Apps program is to bring innovation, creativity, and problem solving to as many places as possible. Local and global business owners sponsor events in their cities, enabling them to see the talent pools right in their own backyard.

This year’s categories were focused on challenges on Earth:

  • Ideate and Create: Creatively interpreting NASA Earth Science Data
  • Our Ecological Neighborhood: Understanding life, here on Earth
  • Warning! Danger: Addressing natural disasters and their impacts
  • Planetary Blues: Analyzing the hydrosphere (water) and cryosphere (ice)
  • The Earth and Us: Generating new perspectives on human-environment interactions

The day before the event, several Space Apps locations host Data Bootcamps, consisting of tutorials and demos. This year’s program was expanded with two locations serving as Space Apps Mainstages, or mission controls: New York City and Silicon Valley. Their Data Bootcamp and hackathon events were livestreamed to be viewed around the world.

Excerpt from an interview with a NASA Fellow conducted by Markitects for its client, International Institute for Leaning, Inc.