International Space Apps Challenge

Nasa organizes this annual two-day hackathon to develop open-source apps and API's that make space exploration easier. There's so much data in the archives at Nasa, Noaa, Esa, and other space agencies that the agencies' need help opening the archives to the broader public. Developers create open-source API's that make it easier for other developers to bring space data into apps. The apps can help people learn more about space or make their lives better here on Earth. Learn more about the 2014, 2013, and 2012 challenges.

The 2014 International Space Apps Challenge, sponsored by Nasa and other US government agencies along with the European Space Agency and Britain's Met Office, happens April 12-13.

For more information see Nasa's initial press release.

The 2013 International Space Apps Challenge brought together more than nine thousand people in eighty-three cities in forty-four countries. And that was just the formal locations. More than two thousand people took part from homes, coffee shops, and offices around the world. 

  • People's Choice: The public voted a Bulgarian app their overall favorite. Coders at Space Apps Sofia created the ChickBooks app to help people raise their own chickens.
  • Best Use of Data: Developers at Space Apps Kansas City developed an app and an API that opens access to Nasa's martian weather data. Sol is an iOS app that lets you monitor weather near you and at the Curiosity rover on Mars. The open source Mars Atmospheric Aggregation System API lets developers incorporate Curiosity's weather data.
  • Best Use of Hardware: Hackers at Space Apps Philadelphia created the ISS Base Station, an app that tracks the International Space Station's orbit and points an Arduino-based mechanical arm at the ISS as it travels overhead.
  • Best Mission Concept: Greek team Popeye on Mars developed a martian greenhouse concept that would grow spinach without constant maintenance by astronauts. Just as some flowers open during the day and close at night -- called nyctinasty -- the greenhouse's solar panels unfurl during the day to collect the Sun's energy. At night the panels cover the greenhouse to shelter the spinach from the cold martian night.
  • Galactic Impact: A Swedish team at Space Apps Gothenburg created the Nasa Greener Cities concept to merge Nasa's climate satellite data with local soil and air data collected by personal sensors.
  • Most Inspiring: British coders at Space Apps London created the T-10 (tee minus ten) app prototype. Astronauts on the ISS have many demands on their schedules. T-10 combines ISS orbital data and government weather data to notify astronauts when conditions are right to photograph of the Earth. A personal app lets people on the ground know when astronauts are photographing Earth so they can wave back.

Nasa's full 2013 Mission Report documents the hackathon's global scope and the range of solutions teams developed. You can read Nasa's initial announcement and the best-in-class announcement for more information.

The 2012 International Space Apps Challenge brought together over two thousand people in twenty-five cities and seventeen countries to develop solutions in Nasa's first hackathon.

  • People's Choice: The public voted Kenyan-developed BitHarvester their overall favorite. The app uses SMS to manage remote renewable energy systems.
  • Best Use of Data: A virtual team worked together to create the vicar2png app. Vicar is the image format used by many of Nasa's planetary exploration missions, but few consumer photo-editing apps understand it. Vicar2png converts vicar files into the more popular PNG format.
  • Galactic Impact: Developers from the United States, Chile, Great Britain, Kenya, and the Dominican Republic created the Growers Nation app. It combines climate satellite and location data to evaluate unused land for agricultural development.
  • Most Inspiring: British coders created the Planet Hopper app to let kids learn about all of the exoplanets discovered using the Kepler Space Telescope.
  • Most Disruptive: The Growing Fruits: Pineapple project combined the efforts of coders in the United States, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere to create an app that identifies the best tropical crop based on a location's climate data.
  • Most Innovative: A British team created the Strange Desk app so people could share strange events over social media.

See Nasa's original press release and the winners' announcement for more information.