NASA announces winners of space apps competition

NASA has announced the five winners of its 2014 International Space Apps Challenge. The contest is an international “hackathon” aimed driving innovation for future space missions and to improve life on Earth. The categories are Earth Watch, Technology in Space, Human Spaceflight, Robotics and Asteroids. Over 8,000 individuals participated in the challenge at 95 locations around the world from April 11-12. The contest was broken down into 40 challenges across the five categories and submissions included software, hardware, data visualizations, and mobile or Web applications. NASA judges selected a winner in each category, while social media users around the world chose a People’s Choice favorite. Among the winners was SkyWatch, which solved the “Alert-Alert” challenge and was selected as being the “Best Use of Data.” Alert-Alert was one of challenges in the Technology in Space theme and asked participants to create a central place for information and visualizations of sky phenomena. SkyWatch provides a near-real-time visual representation of data collected from observatories around the world, giving users the coordinates of celestial events with their location plotted through Google Sky. Android Base Station solved the “PhoneSat” challenge and was chosen as the “Best Use of Hardware.” The PhoneSat challenge was also part of the Technology in Space category and asked participants to convert a smartphone into a satellite. Android Base Station uses a 3D-printed receiver to connect to satellites and transform a smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Aurora Wearables: Fashion meets Function solved the “Space Wearables” challenge, which was another from the Technology in Space category. It asked participants to design wearable clothing and accessories that could be useful in space. Aurora Wearables: Fashion meets Function is an internet-connected spacesuit designed for astronauts to wear on the International Space Station and beyond. The suit allows the wearer to stay better connected with people on Earth via social media, displays a weather status for their home location and has an in-built 3D printer for creating tools and parts. Yorbit solved the “Earth as Art” challenge and was chosen as the Most Inspiring submission. Earth as Art was one of the challenges in the Earth Watch category and challenged participants to create a search tool for finding beautiful earth-observing satellite images. Yorbit allows users to search, personalize, and share photographs captured by NASA satellites orbiting high above Earth. The images can be edited and can be overlayed on Google Maps. The last of the five submissions selected by the NASA judges was SkySnapper, which solved the “My Sky Color” challenge. It crowdsources photos of the sky taken by users to help assess air pollution based on the sky’s color. The challenge itself was part of the Earth Watch category of challenges and asked participants to create a tool with which people can record the color of the sky using consistent and qualitative standards at a specific location. The People’s Choice Award winner was awarded to Space Helmet. This project was part of the Human Space Flight category and solved the “SpaceT” challenge, for which participants had to develop an app that takes advantage of the latest generation of wearable smart technology for a future space traveler. Space Helmet displays oxygen levels, heart-rate and other information for wearer astronaut on a head-up display.

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