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NASA Announces Space Apps Challenge

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the discover-aliens-for-fun-and-profit dept.


coondoggie writes with an article in Network World about a development challenge put forth by NASA. From the article: "NASA said it would host an open source-based application competition that it hopes will deliver a new generation of software that can address space, weather, and economic issues. NASA said it will coordinate with other interested space agencies around the world on an International Space Apps Challenge that will encourage scientists and concerned citizens from all seven continents — and in space — to create, build, and invent new applications that can address world-class issues."

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my submission... (-1, Offtopic)

AngryNick (891056) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470098) application for generating witty first posts.

Re:my submission... (0)

poodlehat (919902) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470138)

:) I was wondering how many citizens of Antarctica there are.

Re:my submission... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37470148)


Re:my submission... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#37477744)

Your proof of concept doesn't really work.

So, farmville? (0)

loftwyr (36717) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470130)

I can see it now, a Moon Farmville that can address issues in growing things on social networks outside of earth's atmosphere! I'll be rich!

Re:So, farmville? (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471132)

Um, I think that they are more interested in software to help predict the weather in Farmville. So you'd better start working on a virtual Earth simulator that can be virtually photographed by a virtual satellite to make virtual predictions about the virtual weather. And don't forget to include the effects of global warming and the inevitable flooding of Farmville. And make sure that you make the virtual sun go nova sometime in 2012 so that the weather report is "Hot, very hot" as Farmville is turned into the wisp of incandescent virtual plasma that it so richly deserves to be...


I demand equal representation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37475702)

From residents of all 7 continents.

SBD without the D (0)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470140)

Nobody wants to fart in space in a closed capsule, it taxes the air scrubbers too much. So, best give them beano and give them a fart app to enjoy the "comforts of home."

Penguins...In...Space...! (0)

mrflash818 (226638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470144)


NASA (0, Flamebait)

slapout (93640) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470162)

R ember back in the good ole days, when NASA was actually about sending people into space?

Re:NASA (0, Offtopic)

delt0r (999393) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470232)

You know what doesn't mix well? People in space. We are not radiation tolerant, vacuum tolerant, low temperature tolerant or even low energy tolerant. If fact all that extra stuff you have to take with a person just so they don't die is a lot of dead weight. On top of all that there is the huge PR cost if one of these frail meat bags expires in space.

Don't send a human to do a machines job.

Re:NASA (1, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470558)

Indeed, we should never ever venture anywhere that isn't perfectly hospitable to us. It's just too dangerous and too scary.

Re:NASA (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470736)

It isn't about being dangerous and scary(history suggests that there's always somebody, usually many somebodies, expendable if you care about a project enough...), it's about not engaging in largely pointless white-elephant projects at the expense of actual science and engineering. Because robots are better at space than humans, they tend to allow much more of the mission to be about space, rather than about coddling them until they can land again.

The only thing you'd really need humans in space for is determining what happens to humans in absence of gravity, which you can do in earth orbit, and eventually sending some out to set up shop in a new location set up by the robots for their convenience. Anything other than zero gravity can be (comparatively) cheaply simulated by putting people in assorted test chambers on earth(not that we are, for the most part, bothering to do that, which suggests how serious we are about long-term plans for humans in space) and the space-related work can be done more efficiently by robots.

Re:NASA (2)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471012)

You know what doesn't mix well? People and trans-oceanic travel. We are not sea-water consumption tolerant, solar radiation tolerant, or even high-moisture air tolerant (you wouldn't believe how many cases of hypothermia can be brought on by a cool breeze and a high humidity level!). In fact, all that extra stuff you have to take with a person just so they don't starve or dehydrate is a lot of dead weight (and if your boat is loaded up with too much dead weight, it will definitely sink!). On top of all that, there is the huge PR cost if one of these leaky wooden tubs springs a hole and sinks to the bottom of the Atlantic.

Don't try to send humans West across the ocean to do a caravan's job.

Do you think folks back in the 1300's and 1400's talked like that a lot? I'll bet they did.

Re:NASA (2)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471224)

Sailing West to get to the East: a risky proposition, but with a potentially huge and practically realizable commercial payoff. The discovery of a New World was the result of a lack of knowledge about what was really out that way.

Putting humans into space: a risky proposition, with no current model for commercial payoff. Sufficient knowledge of what's out there, and our ability to get further knowledge sans manned spaceflight, reduce or even eliminate the need to get people out there until some aspect of the aforementioned situation changes.

Re:NASA (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471386)

If they had robots that could be sent out for a fraction of the cost to scout for new worlds before sending people, I'm sure they would have preferred that option.

Re:NASA (2)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471480)

Well, yes, but the point of the previous document is that we aren't even thinking of sending humans into space to actually live, to colonize. At least not yet.

Much as I adore the idea of colonizing the entire Universe, putting humans on each and every planet and surrounding stars with Dyson spheres and filling them and eventually using advanced nuclear technology to transform nearly all of the mass that isn't actually in stars into human flesh in the form of exponentially more babies, it really isn't fair to compare space and the imperial colonial expansion of Europe into the New World in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Look at the differences:
  • New world habitable (indeed, inhabited). Solar system not habitable. Any of it. People didn't colonize Antarctica back then (and still haven't, not really) in spite of all of that absolutely free land and no doubt all sorts of valuable natural resources, gold and all that. Not to mention Cthulhu's lair, somewhere under the ice. Antarctica is an absolute vacation spot compared to, say, the moon, or Europa, or Venus. Penguins just love it.
  • New world chock full of instantly exploitable and enormously valuable treasure. Gold. Silver. Tobacco. Lots of natives to enslave. Fruits and vegetables and meats. Lumber. All of which were profitable to ship home, even after paying for a ship, crew, and the not insubstantial risks. Solar system: the Moon could be made of solid platinum and it probably wouldn't be profitable to get there, mine it, and ship it home. And it's not. And there isn't any tobacco, native women to roll cigars on the thighs of, fruit, vegetables, meat, lumber. Hell, there isn't any air or water. The only idea that I've heard that is even in principle viable as an export from the Moon is He3 to use as nuclear fuel -- any decade now, right after somebody figures out how to burn He3 as nuclear fuel in a way that is superior to e.g. readily available and cheap Deuterium (which we can't burn either). The Moon is so close, it's like in orbit. Mars, the Asteroids, etc are simply astronomically expensive, even compared to the moon.
  • New World produced a harvest of knowledge (indirectly, not the point of any of the voyages to settle or exploit it). The Solar system is also producing knowledge, but the previous post pointed out that it is cheaper and smarter to harvest it with robots and computers than to send meatbags that piss blood and die horribly in a vacuum. Or in 500 degree sulphuric acid at high pressure, or in supercold hydrogen and methane and ammonia at higher pressure or...
  • The New World was a gangbusters place to send criminals, second through tenth sons, religious wanks who didn't want to be Catholic like everybody else, Catholics who wanted to make all of those cigar rolling island women (and men, and kids) into freshly "converted" Catholic slaves to dig all of that gold for you and work your plantations. It was inexpensive (relative to space!) to get there -- a few tens of families could pool enough money to hire a ship -- and when you got there you could be almost instantly self-sufficient, except when you weren't because of a drought or something and died horribly. Space requires the surplus income of an entire wealthy nation to send a tiny handful of humans into near Earth orbit, and space makes the worst drought ever experienced on Earth seem like a humid wet rainstorm. Nobody wants to or can afford to go live in space -- if they could, it would be chock full of Mormons, the Amish, Texans, and other disaffected groups that don't want to live in modern society where they might have to see gay people holding hands or pay taxes.

Not exactly comparable. Even less comparable to the westward expansion of the 1800s, where a single family could often afford the trip, and could forage or buy food when they got wherever.

Tell you what. You invent a spaceship that costs about as much as a house (that's the limit of single family investment, for the most part) per household that it can carry and can reach any point in the solar system, and a handy-dandy colonization kit (pressurized steady state habitat, inexpensively expandable) that can fit in the trunk, and I'll show you space colonization by humans. In the meantime, unless you have a clever idea for ponying up the energy cost per kilogram to move humans and their various chattels needed for survival in (basically) nothingness with only a KW/m^2 or so of sunlight as a "free" resource, maybe we can agree that yeah, robots are probably a better use of our limited resources for the sole useful purpose space has now, providing us with more knowledge...


Re:NASA (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#37477794)

Your analogy fails because there is no conceivable pay off for the cost involved. We're not going to find Martians willing to trade exotic metals for the equivalent of glass beads.

Re:NASA (0)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470270)

NASA cannot send people in space when there are major issues on Earth.

Re:NASA (0)

AdamJS (2466928) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470298)

Reliable, improved and more-efficient space tech and the technology created to solve those problems could go a long way in helping with our more earthly problems.

Re:NASA (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#37477812)

Reliable, improved and more-efficient space tech and the technology created to solve those problems could go a long way in helping with our more earthly problems.

That's why I've entered my "cold fusion" app. As long as you keep your phone plugged in you get a flashlight that never runs out.

Re:NASA (0)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470528)

Right. Because Earth has been free of major issues from 1961 until now...

Re:NASA (1)

Taty'sEyes (2373326) | more than 3 years ago | (#37473674)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Re:NASA (2, Insightful)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470448)

No, NASA has never been about just "sending people to space". They accomplished their original goal of winning the space race and now their official mision statement is "pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research".

I'd say that this is exactly the kind of stuff NASA should be doing, they are saving time and money by not doing all this research themselves and at the same time (hopefully) promoting collaboration between scientists and space enthusiasts all over the world.

Kudos NASA

Re:NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37470848)

R ember back in the good ole days, when NASA was actually about sending people into space?

This might be flamebait, but it's also insightful.

Unit Converter! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37470344)

Convert meters into feet and vice versa!

groan. (0)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470358)

lets just cut past this ginned-up whore called an apps contest and get to the heart of the matter

2011 fiscal austerity, aka the usual round of budget cuts, have left us with just enough money to say thanks,
but not enough money to employ you. all the good projects have been tarted up and pimped out to defense contractors
and special interest pet projects where someone will inevitably pocket the cash and deliver a project that has more to do with
racing stripes buzzwords and stakeholder revenue than it ever had to do with space. GM once got a contract of ours, and subsequently delivered a robonaut bolted to a car, so yeah
we're used to this by now.

lets make it open source, its really the only semblance of dignity we can give you guys after you realize most of your code will either
never get used due to budget cuts, or be poached by defense contractors and pet projects with whom you will have to fight mercilessly to
ensure adherence to the GPL.

Re:groan. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37481880)

If you need more pork, put lipstick on a pig and try to get it to reproduce.

unintended consequences (0)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470514)

application competition that it hopes will deliver a new generation of software that can address space, weather and economic issues.

Advice App 3000:

It's raining, you're broke and a waste of space. Suicide advised.

Mission-creep (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#37470658)

Economics? So now an agency that can't manage its budget is getting into the economics modeling biz? This is like the CDC deciding that they are authoritative and credible to make social policy on the Second Amendment.

License (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471000)

They say open source, but do they mean BSD, GPLv2, GPLv3, Apache or something else entirely. Not trying to be an ass, just want to know.

Re:License (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471474)

NASA Open Source Licensing []

Re:License (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37474540)

ANd that license is incompatible with most other OSS licenses, for one reason or another.
It was created before most of the other licenses really got traction (in a commercial sense)

I suspect that NASA really doesn't care.

Details? (1)

razvan784 (1389375) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471032)

I'm sorry, but the link to NASA's page currently points to just a generic text, sprinkled with big words and phrases, that really doesn't say anything. Details please?

bizNatch (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37471044)

are a 'pathEtic []

I've Got a Couple of App Ideas (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471052)

1. Going and getting a bucket of Helium3 from the surface of the Moon

2. Retrieve a Comet, and place it on the Moon.

3. (Optional) Rewrite Angry Birds, use likenesses of @$$hole$ that get in the way of man going into space; it's for the children.

Isn't it a common notion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37471228)

that NASA is already underfunded? Where the hell are they getting this money from and why do they keep throwing it away at such frivolous and comical projects?

Re:Isn't it a common notion (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471436)

This costs almost nothing. I'd guess they're doing a super-low-cost project *because* they're underfunded.

Lost in Space (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471676)

I think it needs to be said that any "space app" should not be based on a microtransaction model.

And for god's sake, it had better be open source.

I'm confused... (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#37471716)

What does NASA have to do with space?

I thought they officially gave up in that area, and now it's just a jobs program for contractors.

Space and finance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37471788)

Lemme see, a bank derating app for space based ratings agents. It would be popular with Moondies.

Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37472802)


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