Building on a partnership that extends back to NASA’s inception and helped put the first man on the moon, IBM and NASA are collaborating on a global code-a-thon where developers will be tasked with building solutions that bolster space exploration missions and help to improve life on Earth.
IBM announced that it will provide its Bluemix platform for the NASA Space App Challenge Virtual Event to help developers rapidly build applications that contribute to space exploration and solve global challenges.
IBM also will work with NASA Space Apps Challenge events globally to offer mentorship, guidance and tutorials for participants. The company will help foster innovation by granting free access to more than 100 cloud-based services such as Watson analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) tools through Bluemix.
“The NASA International Space Apps Challenge is at the forefront of innovation, providing real-world examples of how technology can be used to by the best and brightest developers in the world to solve some of the most daunting challenges facing our civilization,” said Sandy Carter, general manager of Cloud Ecosystem and Developers at IBM, in a statement. “Using the IBM Cloud, IBM is making it easier for developers to solve NASA challenges by helping them leverage and make sense of data in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even just a few years ago.”
For its part, this weekend, NASA will bring together more than 10,000 developers, scientists, students, entrepreneurs and educators across 62 countries and 136 cities around the world – and online through the virtual challenge – to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions that address one of 35 different challenges across four categories: outer space, Earth, humans or robotics.
Some of the specific challenges in the three-day code-a-thon include:
· Visualizing Asteroids in the Sky: Participants are challenged to leverage data aggregators and analytics to create a system that can help NASA track asteroids.
· Sensor Yourself: Participants are challenged to put together a stream of senor data to guide movement for robots.
· Crop Alert – Learning from the Growers: Participants are challenged to develop a mobile/Web app/SMS capability to help growers create more creative methods of growing crops.
IBM said more than 200 NASA data sources – including data sets, services and tools, supplied through real-life NASA missions and technology – will be available to participants for use in their applications.
Using Bluemix, participants can rapidly build and iterate on solutions with team members around the world. For example, participants building solutions for the robotics category could use IBM’s IoT service to build an app for the “sensor yourself” challenge, and then couple it with analytics services through Bluemix to analyze and make sense of sensor data for a potential robot simulator, IBM said.
IBM will assist developers by providing online tutorials to showcase best practices for using the IBM Cloud and will offer dedicated virtual support with access to IBM experts to help guide the development process. IBM experts also will work side-by-side with onsite contestants to help them master cloud-based development at various locations around the world, including New York, Austin and Boston. Two projects from each of the 136 cities will have an opportunity to advance to global judging, where a panel of NASA judges will select one winner in each of the five finalist categories: Best Mission Concept, Best Use of Hardware, Best Use of Data, Most Inspiring, and Galactic Impact. IBM will hand out as many as 30 awards at local Space Apps events for the most innovative use of Bluemix, with winners receiving up to a year of free access to Bluemix and up to 80 hours of technical support and assistance over six months by senior IBM developers.
Developers interested in participating in the challenge, which runs from April 10 through April 12, can register here. IBM has supported other, similar code contests with enterprises such as Citigroup and higher education institutions like Howard University.
Launched in February 2014, IBM’s Bluemix Platform as a Service now has more than 100 services available to help developers build, test and deploy cloud-native and cloud-enabled applications. Since its launch, IBM has built out a network of Bluemix Garages to foster innovation with developers in San Francisco and London; partnered with the city of New York to build an online platform for local startups and announced its Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Startups, IBM said.