Nasa sets challenges for citizen scientists

Fresh bread The Space App Challenge will ask how astronaut morale could be improved by baking bread in space

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US space agency Nasa has launched a competition to find "space apps" to aid space exploration and education.

The two-day event will bring programmers together on seven continents to see how creative they can be with Nasa's store of space data.

Problems Nasa wants solved include improving data sharing after disasters and spotting good lunar landing sites.

Coders on the International Space Station and at McMurdo base in Antarctica will join in.

The event runs from 21-22 April at more than 25 venues around the world. Hundreds of people have registered to go along and take part in the various challenges.

Space trips

Nasa hopes the weekend will lead to the creation of mobile apps, software, and hardware as well as visualisations of some of its large data sets.

The resulting code will be judged and used by Nasa in its space exploration missions. One challenge hopes to find a way to let astronauts bake bread in space to improve morale by reminding them of home.

Other challenges are more Earth bound and are directed towards aims such as better ways to monitor water use - to ensure scarce supplies are not depleted or warn of impending droughts.

In a statement, Nasa said the Space Apps Challenge was a citizen science event that would help to change the way the US government interacted with people.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    R&D on the cheap. If NASA wants this work doing, they should pay people to do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    As a baker I truly appreciate this opportunity to achieve the perfect loaf, just when you yeast expect it.

    Just imagine, with no gravity to restrict it, the rise will be a perfect expression of free form baking, allowing innovative bakers to flower.

    I do think this is good idea, although part of me is wary re NASA (the USA) copyrighting international results as their own for their own gain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    One only has to look online to see the vast pool of technical, scientific and artistic creativity that exists but which is not harnessed. Others should follow NASA's lead and appreciate talent. This is really an American tradition, in the US ability is respected and a wide range of talent encouraged; in contrast to the UK where talent is largely resented and considered a waste of time and money.


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