This weekend, teams of people will gather at the University of Oklahoma for an intense “hackathon” to find technical solutions to challenges from NASA — from as far away as Mars to as close as your backyard.
OU will be one of about 80 sites worldwide participating in NASA's International Space Apps Challenge that seeks people to help develop software, hardware, mobile and web applications or data visualizations for 50 challenges that NASA has issued.
The OU public relations students organizing the event have picked 15 for teams to focus on in Norman — including backyard poultry farming, 3-D printing, bringing the Curiosity Rover's activities to Earth from Mars, Lego robots, underwater submarines and more.
At the Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth on the OU campus, registered teams will work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday on these issues, and local prizes will be awarded at 7 p.m. Sunday. The top two projects will then be sent to NASA for its evaluation against other projects from around the world.
Traditionally a hackathon involves an intense, short-term software development event, noted Alicia Llewellyn, community manager for the NASA Open Innovation Program. But the Space Apps Challenge takes teams beyond that and gets communities around the world involved in creative solutions that can help the planet.
The European Space Agency is hosting events in communities including Rome, while a big group of software developers will meet this weekend in Nairobi, Kenya, among other communities. OU is one of three U.S. universities selected to participate. And some areas of the world hosting the challenge are located where people have limited access to the Internet on a regular basis, Llewellyn said.