NASA Worldwide Hackathon Takes Place This Weekend

There's still time to sign up for the International Space Apps Challenge, in which participants will attempt to provide creative answers to 50 current scientific and technological problems.

What's the Latest Development?

This weekend, people from all over the world and the International Space Station will take part in the second annual International Space Apps Challenge, hosted by NASA. The apps refer to 50 problems -- grouped into software, hardware, data visualization, and citizen science categories -- that teams will tackle in a two-day brainstorm. People who can't or don't want to travel to any of 50 different physical locations can also attend online. Last year 2,000 people participated in the challenge, and as of right now at least twice that many are expected.

What's the Big Idea?

NASA's Open Innovation Program manager Nick Skytland says that this event "brings the kind of diversity and talent that NASA needs" in order for the agency to reach its greatest potential. Last year's event surprised him in terms of the sheer number of high-quality solutions participants came up with. By encouraging regular people to join in to answer tough scientific and technological questions, Skytland says that they've been able to make progress almost in spite of the government: "[This project is] a real example of how ingenuity and entrepreneurship in government find a way to scale participation even when resources are limited." 

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