NASA News: The US Space Agency Wants You to Build an App

Written by Ramon Nuez

May 14, 2012

What if you got the call? What if NASA put out an open call and said, “Build me an app!” And guess what, if the Space Agency chooses your app, it will pay you up to $10,000 for it.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is nearly 54 years old. And over the past 5 decades NASA has collected an immense amount of data, from – the X-15 rocket plane to the Space Shuttle program to the in-depth surveys of Mars and Saturn.

NASA has recorded over 100 terabytes of space images, telemetry, models and just about everything one can imagine from all the planetary missions from the past 30 years. The data stored is within NASA’s planetary data system (PDS).

So the Space Agency wants to do something incredible with all that data. NASA wants to find solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by its researchers. And it’s turning to the crowd for help. NASA together with the Harvard Business School and TopCoder – a competitive community of over 400, 000 – has established the NASA Tournament Lab.

“Instead of just scientists, our audience will be the millions of school age students, their teachers and parents, game designers and general civilians of the world.  We want to deliver this incredible data to users in a way that excites them – and thus, to help them understand the value and potential of this data.”

It’s an incredibly daunting task for any one company to build apps that can tap into terabytes of data. Why – it’s the sheer lack of resources and expertise on the companies part. Even if NASA dedicated 20 to 30 people who can build 5 to 10 apps — that will never compare to the over 400,000 people who can build 10’s of thousands of apps, at the speed of the Internet.

And then all NASA has to do is simply chose the winner. This is a great use case for crowdsourcing solutions from one of the largest data-stores in recorded history.

If you could build an app for NASA what would it be?

About Author

About Author

Ramon Nuez

Ramon Nuez is a founder, fine arts photographer, digital artist, writer and wannabe harmonica player.

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