NASA invites coders, scientists to develop COVID-19 solutions

The United States space agency National Aeronautics Space Administration, together with its partners, invites coders, scientists, designers, and others to a virtual hackathon to develop solutions to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NASA invites coders, designers, scientists, and more to a virtual hackathon to develop COVID-19 solutions.
During the global Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge, scheduled on May 30-31, participants from around the world will create virtual teams that—during a 48-hour period—will use Earth observation data to propose solutions to COVID-19-related challenges, from studying the coronavirus that causes the disease and its spread to the impact the disease on the Earth system. 

Registration for the challenge opens on May 12.

“There’s a tremendous need for our collective ingenuity right now,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. 

“I can’t imagine a more worthy focus than COVID-19 on which to direct the energy and enthusiasm from around the world with the Space Apps Challenge that always generates such amazing solutions,” he added. 

Space Apps is an international hackathon that takes place in cities around the world. Since 2012, teams have engaged with NASA’s free and open data to address real-world problems on Earth and in space. 

The unique capabilities of NASA and its partner space agencies—European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)—in the areas of science and technology enable them to lend a hand during this global crisis. 

Filipino developers use NASA's free and open data to solve real-world problems on Earth and space.
Since the start of the global outbreak, Earth science specialists from each agency have been exploring ways to use unique Earth observation data to aid in understanding the interplay of the Earth system—on global to local scales—with aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak, including, potentially, our ability to combat it. 

The hackathon will also examine the human and economic response to the virus.

ESA will contribute data from the Sentinel missions (Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, and Sentinel-5P) in the context of the European Copernicus program, led by the European Commission, along with data from Third Party contributing Missions, with a focus on assessing the impact on climate change and greenhouse gases, as well as impacts on the economic sector. 

ESA is also contributing Earth observation experts for the selection of the competition winners and the artificial-intelligence-powered EuroDataCube. 

“EuroDatacube will enable the best ideas to be scaled up to a global level,” said Josef Aschbacher, director of Earth Observation Programmes at ESA. “The pandemic has a worldwide impact, therefore international cooperation and sharing of data and expertise with partners like NASA and JAXA seems the most suitable approach.” 

JAXA, meanwhile, is making data available from its satellite missions, including ALOS-2, GOSAT, GOSAT-2, GCOM-C, GCOM-W, and GPM/DPR. 

“I believe the trilateral cooperation among ESA, NASA, and JAXA is important to demonstrate how Earth observation can support global efforts in combating this unprecedented challenge,” said JAXA vice president Terada Koji. 

The COVID-19 Challenge will be the program’s first global virtual hackathon. Space Apps 2019 included more than 29,000 participants at 225 events in 71 countries, developing more than 2,000 hackathon solutions over the course of one weekend. 

Many Filipinos have participated in this annual hackathon since 2016. Recently, a dengue mapping forecasting system was developed by data scientists from CirroLytix using satellite and climate data with the goal of addressing the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. This web application, called Project AEDES won globally for the best use of data.

Go to to know more. 

Topics: National Aeronautics Space Administration , United States , Josef Aschbacher , COVID-19 , European Space Agency
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