Coming to you from Jakarta, where over 100 software developers will be working and competing with each other on April 21-22, 2012, along with hundreds more across the world looking to find technological solutions to challenges in science and humanity
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Hi all,

We’re less than a week away from International Space Apps Challenge so preparations are getting red hot as we look forward to hosting over 150 of you in our facilities. There are over 40 challenges listed on the Space Apps Challenge website and to help you pick one out, we’ve trimmed down the list to just eight software tasks.

Read about them on the list below so you’ll be more prepared for coding when you get to the event on Saturday. We strongly encourage you to consider one of the following choices but if you are dead set on solving a challenge not listed below, please let us know via email and we’ll see what we can do about it. 

If you are going to tweet about your challenges, please use the corresponding hashtags.

HTML5 App for Earth Obs #html5earth

Develop a stand-alone HTML5 tablet app that would reach a large number of citizen scientists using Earth Science Data from the NASA Earth Observations (NEO) website ( The website currently provides access to a wide array of missions and instrument data, and the ability to statistically analyze the information. It is focused on Earth Science, but will be extended to include planetary systems datasets in the future. NASA is currently building an app called “Science on a Sphere SOS” that allows the user to use the capabilities of the NEO website. NASA is look for help extending the analysis and animation capability in the NEO on SOS app. To complete the continuum from website to SOS, a stand-alone HTML5 tablet app would reach a large number of citizen scientists. The current work is close to being able to run as a web-app on a tablet.


Preliminary Design for Open Data API #opendataAPI

Scope out and design the hooks and actions necessary for application developers to interface with NASA datasets through an API. NASA has thousands of publicly available datasets, ranging from deep-space radiation readings to geospatial imaging of the earth’s surface. While an API exists at to read these datasets’ metadata, there is no standard way to access the data itself.


Aurora layer for Google Earth #auroras

Create an Aurora layer on Google Earth using real-time observations from NASA spacecraft.


Mobile Environment Mapping #enviromap

A mobile SMS/USSD geospatial data visualization application that allows users to post at realtime about any environmental degradation activity happening within their vicinity. E.g. Charcoal burning, Plastic bags dumping, Effluents & Emissions etc. these are then mapped to allow appropriate reverse measures to be taken by relevant authorities, NGOs & CSOs.

Hazard Map/scraping social media #hazardmap

Obtaining real-time on the ground information of a hazard event, such as a flood or earthquake, as it is occurring is largely limited to the professional media and even then it takes time for journalists to report the situation. However, as was seen during the Japanese Earthquake in 2010, social media (Facebook,Twitter, YouTube, Flickr etc) was used extensively to gain situational awareness. Videos were posted on YouTube hours before the same clips were used by the professional media. Social media was also used by individuals affected by the disaster as a medium to tell their friends and family that they were safe. Obtaining information from social media still relies on the time taken for information to pass through the authors network through to the network of an interested individual, but whom is not connected to the or through knowing which hashtags to follow.

Info Sharing for Humanitarian Crisis Response #hxl

The Problem During a crisis response, information managers within the humanitarian community face a significant challenge in trying to collate data regarding humanitarian needs and response activities conducted by a large number of humanitarian actors. The schemas for these data sets are generally not standardized across different actors nor are the mechanisms for sharing the data. In the best case, this results in a significant delay between the collection of data and the formulation of that data into a common operational picture. In the worst case, information is simply not shared at all, leaving gaps in the understanding of the field situation.


Earth Day App #earthday

How can space data help us here on Earth? April 22 is Earth Day. We challenge you to find creative ways to use space and other data to help our planet on Earth Day, and every day.

Perhaps your idea is creative visualization of ground-based photos with space imaging to help us see our planet with new eyes. Maybe you have a new way of showing changes over time as seen from space and on the ground. What can you do to help celebrate Earth Day and show how space data and other data can help save the planet? The only limit is your creativity.


Predict the Sky #predictsky

Pull in orbital tracking data from ISS, solar storm data, current planet positions, current location and weather forecast to give people an estimate of how likely they are to be able to see interesting things in the sky if they go out tonight. Interesting things to highlight could include:

  • aurorae
  • an ISS pass
  • rocket launch
  • Iridium flare
  • comet, meteor shower or other special astronomical event
  • a conjunction of bright planets, or good opportunity to see planets


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