Space Apps Snapshots

For the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of joining the International Space Apps Challenge. This year we were the largest global hackathon ever!

In addition to participating in the very successful Toronto SpaceApps event, I curated the global story. Here are some of the pieces on the SpaceApps Blog:

Timezone Dancing in Space
Gel n’ Sketch
Kicking it Globally

As well, I captured the best snippets about the community and the event using Storify:

So much fun!


Dispatch: Third Rock from the Sun

[Cross-posted on the International Space Apps Challenge blog]

Astronomers, Astrophysicists and Astronauts visited various SpaceApp locations. AND, a there is a #launchjon campaign.

“Get this bracelet to light up by trending Jon Spooner on twitter! Go on! It’s for the global #spaceapps challenge”

“Our astronomer is overly excited and wants to help out on any team that is working on Tour of the solar system too!” Dr. Syeda Kareema Ghouse joined the Miami team to discuss mobile + astronomy.

They also brained on Visualize the “All-too-Common Astronomy/Solar System Misconceptions”. What a seriously fun project to keep doing with people!

As for astronauts: Tokyo had @astro_ron recorded a SpaceApps Google Hangout held with San Francisco, Jakarta, Tokyo, and Melbourne.

Dr. Prasenjit Saha, professor of astrophysics at the University of Zürich shared his project in Lausanne. It is good to know that brainac Astrophysicists say:
“We observe these two firework thingys.” He is working on an open development citizen science project. (The talk starts 2 minutes into the ustream recording.)

Video streaming by Ustream

Nairobi and San Francisco are social butterfly hub cities. They held Google Chats to connect with other cities. Well done, Willow and Simeon. Global connections are true magic. Every global hackathon it gets easier to share between cities. While co-hacking can be hard, the human connection that we are all in this together across timezones is an amazing starting point. As Sara Farmer mentioned, the key is to have all the cities connected via Skype and Google docs so that we can coordinate with the global dispatch team.

Miami and Jakarta connecting. (Photo via Alison Hornery)

Global Tour

Tokyo Space Apps
(picture by Fumi from Tokyo)

SpaceApps highlight reel from some of the cities:

San Francisco: (picture courtesy of Elizabeth Sabet)

Canberra: (Picture courtesy Lyle Roberts)

Melbourne: (Picture via @auspaceapps)

Nairobi: (picture courtesy of ihub)

Jakarta (Picture by Ali Llewellyn)


Update from the UK: “Some worked all night and are Red Bulling their way back to consciousness!” #spaceapps

More Photos:

International Space Apps and #spaceapps.

‘Join the army,’ they said!
‘See the world,’ they said!
I’d rather be sailing the solar system.

Sometimes your globe is tiny and there is a hacker next door that you did not know was connected to your community. @mattmattmatt was on the hunt to get Horizon data to work all day yesterday. A few of the global team members connected him via a mash of IRC, skype, email and twitter. We connect with people on the topic and don’t always get into the gritty of where they may be located. Oddly enough, Matt Mihok is in Toronto. SpaceApps hackers unite! (the project)

Hack of a hack

[05:33] HeatherL: Juub – I like to call it it the hack of the hack
[05:33] HeatherL: the first hack is that you find out you can and should
[05:34] HeatherL: the second hack is that you learn how to collaborate outside institutions, corporations and, hopefully, your usual silos of knowledge
[05:34] HeatherL: the third hack is that you create something, do something
(early morning IRC chat with Juub)

Getting people involved in global hackathons is an evolution. I think that the individual is the first and most important hack. As we think about the Open Government Partnership, we need all citizens engaged. This means more teaching that we can and should. Here’s to that amazing exploration.

I leave you with ISS DUCK (via @ileddigital:


Posts in the series:


Dispatch: International Space Apps Challenge Part 2
Dispatches From International Space Apps Challenge Part 1/


Dispatch from Intl Space Apps – Part 2

SpaceApps is live in most cities now. It is midday EDT with Vancouver and San Francisco about to start their days. There are 60 spaceapp challenges ranging across 4 categories: Software, Open hardware, Citizen science & Data Visualization. Participants are in 24 cities with over 2000 people registered.

IRC: “ favorite part of this challenge experience so far has been exposure to all these awesome existing projects and datasets.”

It is no secret that I love hackathons – big, global ones. Why? Because, the idea of doing a global hackathon is in its nascent stages. Each of the attendees may go on to lead other events to shape their world. Some of us have collaborated previously and others are new. All are welcome on this exciting effort to think about ways to contribute to real world topics. The best part of a global hackathon like SpaceApps is that we are all keen to tinker and make with avid curiousity. All the attendees are completely inspiring in their drive to contribute in self-less spirited ways.

Hacking My Way To Space from Nicholas Skytland on Vimeo.

Nicholas Skyland is in between Exeter and Oxford this weekend. MetOffice news wrote about his visit. Exeter is working on setting your location with #PredictTheSky #spaceapps. The app will default to current location.
via @sophiedennis (Note: all the projects have hashtags, much like twitter. That is how we communicate via IRC and piratepad.)

Exeter is launching a man into space. Or, so they say. NYC is spinning tunes for their event: “We got NYC startup @turntablefm rocking the house at @intlspaceapps New York! Join in & spin tunes with us turntable.fm #spaceapps, Nairobi has 25 new arduino noobies hacking hardware: (photo courtesy @afromusing)

Istanbul is also playing with Open Hardware: reading external sensors and sending them with a GPS tag to a web application.

Santa Domingo is just getting project oriented.

Conduit visited Israel #spaceapps and found this gadget

Jakarta got a visit via skype from @astro_ron

There are even virtual-only teams like Offline-Online with participants in Netherlands, US, Canada and Italy. (Disclosure: this is a project that I’m working on).

The teams are emerging, code is being built, and, most of all, people are talking about space, data and their connected journey.

Under the hood:

Global collaboration is hard, but worthy. We have parsed together Ustream, google docs, skype, IRC, scribblelive, twitter and email in a mash-up of communication mazes. All in the effort to keep the vibe and information going. here is an example pirate pad from Lausanne to show you how the cities are organizing in teams.

We highly encourage you to drop into the various Ustream channels to connect with folks and watch their progress.

Every single virtual and in-person global event we learn ways to improve the communication and workflow. It helps that there are familiar faces with experience in tech for social good. As we say, hackathons are love. We connect.

The virtual team is fantastic. Thanks Michael Brennan, Chris Gerty, Sara Farmer, Herr_Flupke, Aaron Huslage, and Willow Bl00.

Stay tuned for the next update from another team member. I’m on the early shift and need a hacknap.



Intl Space Apps Challenge – Global tour!

Morning Space Hackers! The Internet is buzzing with your great activities. I’ll be writing a few global updates on my blog to give you an overview. Magic is connecting us:

I’m in Toronto, Canada watching CJ Hendrix present via ustream about Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) in Lausanne and chatting on IRC with Alp who is in Istanbul and Herr Flupke (of the virtual coordinator ops team- vops).

What is the Space Apps Challenge

The International Space Apps Challenge is a global event hosted by NASA.

Check out this summary video including Space Stars like Clay Ellis on the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica and Unity Node’s Ron Garan.

Big Picture

ISS is live on Ustream (@panggi thanks for the pic):

How can you watch online?

Global collaboration is always a rush. Here are some of the components to help:

Ustream channel
(all the cities have a separate channel connected. There is a ustream scroll bar below the main window complete with all the city ustream links.

Twitter #spaceapps

We have a global IRC live chat. You can dive into projects like the Open Data API lead by Sean Herron. Each of the projects have their own window. Running commentary is brilliant. I’m participating with Herr_Flupke as a global dispatch coordinator aka Human API.

I set up a live blog to aggregate social media content. Thanks to the folks at ScribbleLive for the great software!

International participants

Here is a summary of how to get engaged online as International virtual participants. Ping me on IRC or anyone and ask for help to be connected.

Gov 2.0 interviews

Here are some amazing audio interviews by the Gov 2.0 team with SpaceApp leaders, including Simeon Oriko of my homebase ihub Nairobi and Ali Llewellyn of NASA.

Also see this article from the BBC.

The Global International Space Apps Tour….so far

Jakarta by @adllewellyn

Adelaide by @sumenrai79adelaide

Melbourne from @auspaceapps

Sydney via @auspaceapps


Outreach by Nasa
nasa swag

Japan via @isacjp

Nairobi by @whiteafrican

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