Amateur Space News May 20, 2014

Space agencies helping amateurs explore space were in the news today along with crowdsourcing emergency response. The daily Mars One coverage included a hit piece, a measured response from Nasa, and a candidate profile in the UK.

Nasa, the American Astronautical Society, and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space are hosting the 3rd Annual ISS Research and Development Conference in Chicago June 17-19. Most of the conference focuses on the professional uses of the space station, but an education break-out session will include the following topics:

  • Amateur Radio on the ISS: Inspiring and Educating Youth through Direct Connections with the ISS Crew; Frank Bauer, Amsat-NA 
  • CASIS National Design Challenge Pilot Project; Alli Westover, Casis 
  • High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware Extreme Science Program; Florence Gold, Texas A&M University 
  • NanoRacks Education; Patricia Mayes, NanoRacks, LLC 
  • Columbus Eye and Other Educational Activities during Alexander Gerst’s Mission to the ISS; Johannes Weppler, German Aerospace Center 

(Via Digital Journal)

Nasa announces six winning teams in International Space Apps Challenge. More than 8,000 people took part in the programming contest at 95 locations around the world.

  • Space Apps Toronto’s SkyWatch app won the Best Use of Data category
  • Space Apps London’s Android Base Station won the Best PhoneSat category
  • Space Apps Exeter’s Aurora Wearables won the Wearables category
  • Space Apps Kansas City’s Yorbit won the Most Inspiring category
  • Space Apps London’s SkySnapper won the Galactic Impact category

The People’s Choice award went to Space Apps Valencia for their Space Helmet. (Via GovConWire)

Two news reports explain how Noaa crowdsources extreme weather reports from amateurs. Brainerd Dispatch reporter Renee Richardson attended a SkyWarn training class where local volunteers learned how to spot and track extreme weather safely. In an interview with the Huntington County TAB, an Indiana SkyWarn program manager explains how amateur reports fill in the gaps beneath Noaa’s weather radars.

Crowdsourcing satellite image analysis with Tomnod. Forbes interviewed the head of DigitalGlobe’s crowdsourcing service about their contribution to the search for Malaysian Airlines flight 370. The public can do better than computer algorithms when enough people take part in a project.

Mars One Headlines:

The Guardian Liberty Voice carried a shabby hit-piece questioning the Mars One program. While there are plenty of reasons to question Mars One’s ambitions, the essay by John Benjamin settles for vague innuendoes and red herrings. 

The Guardian asked Nasa’s deputy chief technologist why Nasa hasn't spoken out about Mars One. He responded that “the agency would comment if it saw something that was clearly reckless.” Read the article to see how Nasa’s chief scientist explained ways that Mars One could get help from the agency.

British TV network iTV interviewed Mars One candidate Hannah Earnshaw.