The NASA Space Apps Challenge is an annual international space hackathon which allows people from all over the globe to compete in their innovativeness and creativity to address Earth and space exploration issues. Each year, the event unites people of different fields – coders, scientists, designers, technologists and anyone who is enthusiastic about space. At this global, collaborative, problem-solving forum each has only 48 hours to come up with an innovative solution that NASA could use in current or future missions.
First held in 2012, the Space Apps Challenge has been rapidly gathering momentum each year. In 2017, the challenge covered 69 countries with 187 different host locations and involved 25 000 participants. Such high public interest in the space exploration theme is fueled by the prizes and awards. This year, winners will be invited to a rocket launch at a NASA spaceport in USA.
The NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017 took place on April 29-30, 2017. This year was the second time Ukraine joined the Space Apps location network and the first time it was held in the city of Dnipro. Hosting the event in Dnipro was made possible thanks to organizational support from Association Noosphere, founded by Max Polyakov. Despite being a first-time event for Dnipro, it attracted the attention of space enthusiast who formed into 12 teams to compete against each other, as well as on a global scale. Most importantly, the teams from Dnipro performed well, allowing 3 of the 12 teams to proceed to the international selection stage of the challenge. The the “Diversity” project was nominated for the “People’s Choice Award”, while the projects “Fire Prob” and “Flight Sight” were selected by judges to compete for the “Global Awards”.
The Diversity project, developed by Team Spacer, is a concept to create a global network of terrestrial hubs, sub-orbital station prototypes, that will imitate real space conditions and serve as interactive playgrounds for kids and teenagers. The team believes that this game-like approach will be a new stage in the conquest of the space and will tackle the old-school thinking in the space industry. Team Spacer even presented their own station prototype, which they managed to construct within the 48 hours.
The idea of the Diversity hub was warmly welcomed by the public worldwide, which allowed the team to make it to the Top10 in international online voting. The team landed at a lofty 8th place just 3 away from the Top5, which would have allowed them to proceed further in international selections.
The fortune of Fire Prob and Flight Sight projects in the “Global Awards” is not yet clear and will be decided not via online public voting, but via careful examination of the NASA experts. The Fire Prob project offers an interface that would help locate spreading fires and speed up notifications addressed to the closest fire stations. The Flight Sight project is an app that is designed to entertain and educate people while flying. Using this app, people can easily explore the landmarks they fly over on their flight route. The NASA expert commission will announce the final results of of the selection in early June on spaceappschallenge.org
A special thanks should be given to EOS Data Analytics Inc. for its considerable support in hosting the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017 in Ukraine. The company, founded by Max Polyakov created a cloud-based platform and analytics tool that help transform big GIS‑data into smart data for business, science and public use. A number of experts from EOS joined the Space Apps Challenge to share their expertise and provide professional assistance to the challenge participants. The expert instant feedback was very helpful for the hackathon teams, as they had the opportunity to fine-tune their projects immediately in accordance based on their advice. Moreover, EOS also set up a special motivational prize for teams who chose to compete in the “NASA Earth Science” category, which covered tasks in Earth data analysis, interpretation and applications.