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International Space Apps Challenge

April 21, 2013

Space Apps Challenge LogoOrganized by Azavea and presented by NASA, the International Space Apps Challenge is a two-day hackathon (April 20-21, 2013) where citizens from around the world work together to solve current challenges relevant to both space exploration and social needs. In Philly judges were Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts, NASA Deputy CIO Deborah Diaz, and City of Philadelphia Chief Data Officer Mark Headd, who awarded prizes at the end of the event. 

Space Apps Philly Participants

The International Space Apps Challenge weekend kicked off on Friday at First Round Capital with the 120 registrants picking challenges to work on. Over the course of the two day event, 15 different challenges were tackled head on by teams of enthusiastic hackers. Such challenges included; ISS Orbit Skirt, Whats Up Voyager, Tunnel Vision, Earth Tile Creator, Tracking Curiosity, and more. One such example of a challenge solution was Dr. Youngmoo Kim's Listening to the Stars hack, which was a modification of the Magnetic Resonator Piano. Dr. Kim used sonifications of Keplar data from several stars which drove the MRP to produce music. Each star has its own unique sound as each had its own data. You can listen to the MRP play from one of the star's data below.

Leland Melvin

Over the course of the weekend, NASA astronaut Leland Melvin stopped by the ExCITe Center. Leland is an engineer and has flown two missions on the Space Shuttle Atlantis. While here, Leland socialized with the teams of hackers and was deep in discussion with the youngest hacker, who was 14 years old. As the Philly International Space Apps Challenge was the global main-stage , Leland held Google Hangouts with other astronauts and international space apps challenge locations. Leland, an accomplished pianist, also took the chance to try out the magnetic resonator piano. You can see Leland talk about the International Space Apps Challenge and his interview with the youngest hacker from the Reel Inspiration challenge.

ISS Base Station Team After two days of hardwork, the teams gathered to present and demo their hack to everyone. The judges then adjourned for careful deliberation to pick the winning team. That team was ISS Base Station, which was the largest group as well as the group with the youngest hacker. The ISS Base Station team won flight training passes for each member, provided by Nastar. The challenge that the ISS Base Station tackled was Spot the Station. This challenge was to create a visualization from the Spot the Station website data or to extend the functionality of the site by building an app that lets you share and browse ISS sightings.

The second place team was EarthKAM Explorer. This team tackled the Earth from Space challenge. They created a web-based 3D exploration of satellite images taken by middle school students through the ISS EarthKAM program. The top two teams have placed in NASA's second round of global judging and have until MAY 1st to submit a 2-minute presentation of their solutions. Each team also received prizes for their important contributions, ranging from Amazon Web Services credits, K'NEX kits, and a Leap Motion controller.

Special thanks to the organizers, sponsors, participants and judges for the International Space Apps Challenge!

This event would not have been possible without:
Andrew Thompson and Amelia Longo and the entire team at Azavea
Mike Brennan from Second Muse and
Deborah Diaz and Nick Skytland from NASA

Additional gratitude is due to:
Brienna Henwood from Nastar
Derrick Pitts from the Franklin Institute
Mark Headd from the City of Philadelphia

Event sponsors:
Azavea, First Round Capital, Amazon Web Services, Global Advantage Consulting, NASTAR Center, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, University City Science CenterChariot Solutions, Github, Jarvus, K'nex, and Ticketleap

Space Apps judges along with Nastar, NASA, Second Muse and ExCITe team members

For more information, visit the Space Apps Challenge website or follow them on Twitter @spaceappsPHL.

Check out the Space Apps Tumblr photo wrap-up: Day One and Day Two.