Recently in the Crowdsourcing Category


Do you, or someone you know, know how to program computers? NASA has a challenging assignment for you.

NASA is inviting the public to help search for possible undiscovered worlds in the outer reaches of our solar system and in neighboring interstellar space.

To celebrate the launch of the student-built AAUSAT5 CubeSat from the International Space Station into low Earth orbit, ESA's Education office challenges the amateur radio community to listen out for the tiny satellite.

NASA is giving university and college students an opportunity to be part of the agency's journey to Mars with the Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-changing (BIG) Idea Challenge.

A NASA-sponsored website designed to crowdsource analysis of data from the agency's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission has reached an impressive milestone.

We present Brut, an algorithm to identify bubbles in infrared images of the Galactic midplane. Brut is based on the Random Forest algorithm, and uses bubbles identified by >35,000 citizen scientists from the Milky Way Project to discover the identifying characteristics of bubbles in images from the Spitzer Space Telescope.

We describe a system that builds a high dynamic-range and wide-angle image of the night sky by combining a large set of input images.

Home Computers Discover Gamma-Ray Pulsars

The combination of globally distributed computing power and innovative analysis methods proves to be a recipe for success in the search for new pulsars.

A University of Alberta physicist brought together backyard astronomers and professionals to confirm the mysterious behavior of two stars more than 300 light-years from Earth.

George Hale: Success in science often relies as much on planning, communication, and constant improvement as it does on gathering data, writing papers, and giving lectures. This is especially true for large scientific missions like NASA's Operation IceBridge.

"Citizen science, in which volunteers work with professional scientists to conduct research, is expanding due to large online datasets. To plan projects, it is important to understand volunteers' motivations for participating. This paper analyzes results from an online survey of nearly 11,000 volunteers in Galaxy Zoo, an astronomy citizen science project. Results show that volunteers' primary motivation is a desire to contribute to scientific research. We encourage other citizen science projects to study the motivations of their volunteers, to see whether and how these results may be generalized to inform the field of citizen science." More

"I am pleased to invite Ames resident staff to drop in on the "Dark Side of the Jam" gathering in Building 3 on March 8-10, 2013. The Dark Side of the Jam is bringing together top game designers for a "satellite game jam" with the goal of developing space and science games. Dark Side of the Jam challenges gamers to not only to demonstrate their coding prowess, but help capture the public's interest in the science and technology advancements being made in aerospace exploration. Dark Side of the Jam opens with registration at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 8, and runs until 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, in the Building 3 Ballroom. The center director will welcome the participants, and then NASA speakers will share knowledge about NASA aeronautics, small spacecraft, robotics, and planetary exploration to ignite ideas. NASA also will provide feedback on Saturday to the game developers. The event kicks off on Friday evening at about 7:30 p.m. NASA also will provide displays and models for inspiration." More

Apply for ESA's App Camp

"Help to bring Earth observation services to the everyday user with your ideas for mobile phone applications. Following the success of last year's first ever App Camp organised by ESA, 20 app developers from all over Europe will be invited once again to ESA's ESRIN centre in Frascati, Italy, on 3-10 June. They will have the opportunity to spend the week creating mobile applications using satellite Earth observation data. Eligible applicants will need to have experience in app development on Android or iOS platforms that can be verified with links to published apps and other references. The 20 lucky developers will be selected by an expert committee involving ESRIN staff. ESA will provide Internet and access to satellite data for developing mobile applications in five defined categories. The goal is to develop mobile apps using Earth-monitoring data on smartphones, building on the possibilities offered by Europe's Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme." More

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest open innovation platform and competitive community of digital creators, today launched the first two of a series of open innovation challenges to create a new dietary tracking application for use by astronauts in an International Space Station (ISS) -type environment. The ISS FIT (Food Intake Tracker) iPad App Conceptualization and Voice Command Idea Generation and other competitions are now open on the ISS FIT Challenge home page (TopCoder and TopCoder Studio registration required). These are the first two of multiple phases of the challenge which will build a fully functioning iPad application from concept to deployment using TopCoder's open innovation Community and process. The complete challenge series is sponsored by NASA through its NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), an online virtual facility that harnesses the capabilities of the TopCoder Community to create innovative, efficient solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by the space agency." More

"The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization promoting and managing research on board the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, today announced it will provide up to $100,000 in grant funding for qualified research projects as part of its partnership with the "MassChallenge Startup Accelerator." MassChallenge is the largest-ever startup accelerator, and the first to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs without taking any equity. Its four-month program offers world-class mentorship, free office space, $1 million in cash awards, and up to $10 million through in-kind support. To date, MassChallenge alumni have collectively raised over $360 million in outside funding, generated nearly $100 million in revenue, and created nearly 3,000 jobs since 2010. As per the agreement with MassChallenge, CASIS will commit up to $100,000 to any winning proposal that is deemed flight-ready for research on board the ISS. CASIS funds for qualified research proposals on Station are not part of the original MassChallenge award, but are offered on top of any other grants received through the contest." More

"SpaceGAMBIT is pleased to announce the first round of funding activity with an Open Call For Projects. We are looking for community-space built, open-source projects in line with our mission to receive $5000-$20,000USD for a 3-4 month development. Our overall mission is to promote humanity's long term survivability and expansion into space. Themes for this round of projects are Education, Habitats and Near-Space Economy. Submissions will be accepted from the date of announcment (2013/02/06) through April 19, 2013." More

"Welcome to Planet Four, a citizen science project designed to help planetary scientists identify and measure features on the surface of Mars . . . the likes of which don't exist on Earth. All of the images on this site depict the southern polar region, an area of Mars that we know little about, and the majority of which have never been seen by human eyes before! We need your help to find and mark 'fans' and 'blotches' on the Martian surface. Scientists believe that these features indicate wind direction and speed. By tracking 'fans' and 'blotches' over the course of several Martian years to see how they form, evolve, disappear and reform, we can help planetary scientists better understand Mars' climate. We also hope to find out if these features form in the same spot each year and also learn how they change." More

"TopCoder, Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators, today announced the Longeron Shadowing Optimization Challenge, a $30,000, open to the public competition to make the energy-gathering solar arrays of the International Space Station (ISS) more efficient by eliminating the shadows it casts upon itself at different points during orbit. Registration for the three week long competition is now open with competition ending Wednesday, February 6 th at 18:00 GMT. Contestants must be TopCoder members in good standing. Community membership and challenge registration are free. Top prizes include $10,000 for the best solution with second and third placed solutions earning $5,000 and $3,000 respectively. Bonus prizes of mission stickers which have actually orbited the Earth on Space Shuttle Endeavour will be awarded to the top 5 finishers." More

"Operating droids in space was no obstacle for a German-Italian alliance to reach the finish line of the Zero Robotics tournament. The European winners commanded mini-robots to dodge virtual dust clouds and rendezvous with disabled satellites, all in the weightlessness of the International Space Station. This year's competition gave over 130 high-school students from across Europe the opportunity to operate droids in space by coding software. Six alliances made of teams from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal witnessed how their computer codes worked in the Space Station from ESA's ESTEC space research and technology centre in the Netherlands The RetroSpheres space game involved two mini-robots racing through a course using the least amount of fuel. During the three-minute programmed dance, the volleyball-sized spheres moved using 12 squirts of compressed gas. Competitors could collect extra fuel from decommissioned satellites and deorbit the satellites for extra points while navigating through their opponent's dust clouds." More

"We report the latest Planet Hunter results, including PH2 b, a Jupiter-size (R_PL = 10.12 \pm 0.56 R_E) planet orbiting in the habitable zone of a solar-type star. PH2 b was elevated from candidate status when a series of false positive tests yielded a 99.9% confidence level that transit events detected around the star KIC 12735740 had a planetary origin. Planet Hunter volunteers have also discovered 42 new planet candidates in the Kepler public archive data, of which 33 have at least three transits recorded. Most of these transit candidates have orbital periods longer than 100 days and 20 are potentially located in the habitable zones of their host stars. Nine candidates were detected with only two transit events and the prospective periods are longer than 400 days. The photometric models suggest that these objects have radii that range between Neptune to Jupiter. These detections nearly double the number of gas giant planet candidates orbiting at habitable zone distances. We conducted spectroscopic observations for nine of the brighter targets to improve the stellar parameters and we obtained adaptive optics imaging for four of the stars to search for blended background or foreground stars that could confuse our photometric modeling. We present an iterative analysis method to derive the stellar and planet properties and uncertainties by combining the available spectroscopic parameters, stellar evolution models, and transiting light curve parameters, weighted by the measurement errors. Planet Hunters is a citizen science project that crowd-sources the assessment of NASA Kepler light curves. The discovery of these 43 planet candidates demonstrates the success of citizen scientists at identifying planet candidates, even in longer period orbits with only two or three transit events." More

Open Source Human Space Flight

"One man's kitchen sink valve is another rocket man's missing component. A D.I.Y. spaceflight project can start with a good rummage at your local plumbing or hardware store. With everyday, off-the-shelf products, the guys behind Copenhagen Suborbitals found cheaper solutions to expensive, complex systems. "Instead of trying to invent our own valve for instance, why not buy one that's been produced maybe a million times," explained Kristian. He said they used a hair dryer in one of the first rocket tests in order to prevent one of the valves from freezing up. Copenhagen Suborbitals doesn't operate within limits but rather works around edges. Money and technology are hard to come by, sure, but limitations can often be a blessing in disguise. Instead of shelling out money they didn't have in order to rent an expensive centrifuge at a NASA research center, the Copenhagen guys went to their local amusement park, the legendary Tivoli Gardens, and turned up the levels on a mechanical ride in order to test a g-force threshold for the eventual launch of their spaceship." More at Popular Science

"Astronomers at the University of Utah and elsewhere are seeking volunteers to explore the galaxy next door, Andromeda. The newly launched Andromeda Project will use people power to examine thousands of Hubble Space Telescope images of the galaxy to identify star clusters that hold clues to the evolution of galaxies. "We want to get people excited about participating. We're hoping for thousands of volunteers," says Anil Seth, an organizer of the Andromeda Project and an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Utah. "I love looking through these amazing Hubble Space Telescope images of Andromeda, the closest big spiral galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy," he adds. "The Andromeda Project will give lots of people the opportunity to share in that amazement." "Star clusters are groups of hundreds to millions of stars that formed from gas at the same time so all the stars have the same age," Seth says. A goal of the Andromeda Project "is to study the history of the galaxy, and these clusters play an important role." More

"NASA estimates more than 500,000 pieces of hazardous space debris orbit the earth, threatening satellites that support peacekeeping and combat missions. These objects include spent rocket stages, defunct satellites and fragments from other spacecraft that are the result of erosion, explosion and collision. A collision between one of these small pieces of debris and a satellite could release more than 20,000 times the energy of a head-on automobile collision at 65 mph. To help address the threat, DARPA created SpaceView, a space debris tracking project that provides amateur astronomers with the means to make a difference. Amateur astronomers will have their first opportunity to sign up in person for the program at the Arizona Science and Astronomy Expo in Tucson, November 10-11, 2012." More

"The data presented in this paper are the result of the efforts of the Planet Hunters volunteers, without whom this work would not have been possible. Their contributions are individually ac- knowledged at http://www.planethunters.org/authors. We also acknowledge the following list of individuals who flagged one or more of the transit events on Talk discussed in this paper before or after discovery of the planet: Hans Martin Schwengeler, Dr. Johann Sejpka, and Arvin Joseff Tan." More

Big Data Challenge Announced

NASA Tournament Lab to Launch Big Data Challenge Series for U.S. Government Agencies, NASA

"NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy's Office of Science announced on Wednesday the launch of the Big Data Challenge, a series of competitions hosted through the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL). The Big Data Challenge series will apply the process of open innovation to conceptualizing new and novel approaches to using "big data" information sets from various U.S. government agencies. This data comes from the fields of health, energy and Earth science. Competitors will be tasked with imagining analytical techniques and software tools that use big data from discrete government information domains. They will need to describe how the data may be shared as universal, cross-agency solutions that transcend the limitations of individual agencies."

NASA Tournament Lab & TopCoder Launch Big Data Challenge Series for U.S. Government Agencies, TopCoder

"NASA and Harvard University have established the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), which with the enabling capabilities of the TopCoder community allow for competitions to create the most innovative, most efficient, and most optimized solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by NASA researchers. The NTL provides an online virtual facility for NASA researchers with a computational or complex data processing challenge to "order" a solution, just like they would order laboratory tests or supplies."

Wyle Takes Part in TechAmerica Report on Big Data, Wyle

"TechAmerica Foundation's much anticipated report "Demystifying Big Data: A Practical Guide To Transforming The Business of Government," which was released today, gives the federal government a comprehensive roadmap to using "Big Data" to better serve Americans."

Crowdsourcing for Earthquake Monitoring

"Technology is creating a new breed of scientist. I'm talking about citizen scientists - ordinary people and volunteers from all walks of life coming together to help monitor, and possibly mitigate, the next big earthquake through an innovative program called NetQuakes. A play off the popular company Netflix - a movie company that allows users to rent movies through the mail - NetQuakes allows ordinary people to volunteer as a kind of host "family" for one of the program's many blue seismometers. This grassroots movement, an innovative effort between the USGS, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) and regular people, is forming an intricately advanced network of data that could help scientists, emergency experts and the general public become more aware of the dangers involved with earthquakes." More

"Discovered by Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), NEA (near-Earth asteroid) 2002 AM31, an asteroid the size of a city block, will make its close approach to Earth Sunday evening (July 22) -- just 39 days after newly discovered asteroid 2012 LZ1 paid an unexpected visit to Earth. Slooh Space Camera will cover its near-approach live on http://www.slooh.com, free to the public, starting at 4:30 p.m. PDT / 7:30 p.m. EDT / 23:30 UTC -- accompanied by real-time discussions by Slooh's Patrick Paolucci and Astronomy magazine columnist Bob Berman."

More

ESA Summer of Code in Space 2012

ESA Summer of Code in Space 2012 (SOCIS 2012) is a program run by the European Space Agency. It aims at offering student developers stipends to write code for various space-related open source software projects. Through SOCIS, accepted student applicants are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating projects, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development scenarios. In turn, the participating projects are able to more easily identify and bring in new developers.

This is the second edition of SOCIS, the first one (SOCIS 2011) selected 20 mentoring organisations, each one having one project. The program is inspired by (but not affiliated or related in any way to) Google's Summer of Code initiative, and is designed with the following objectives in mind:

* raise the awareness of open source projects related to space within the open source programming community, especially among students;
* raise awareness of ESA within the open-source community;
* improve existing space-related open-source software.

More information

Inspired teams seeking a place to collaborate need look no further. The UK Space Agency is calling forward multi-disciplinary, multi-organisational groups for the Space Collaborative Innovation Team Initiative (Space CITI). Successful teams with innovative ideas will be provided with up to #0.5M funding and world class facilities to call home.

Space CITI is a pilot programme designed to support accelerated innovation and economic growth. Funding will be available for one or more focussed multi-disciplinary, multi-organisational teams to undertake a programme of work which exploits the unique environment of the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) at Harwell, Oxford.

Kickstarter: The ArduSat Mission

"Our mission is to provide affordable space exploration for everyone! We want to get you into space! Once launched, the ArduSat (Arduino - satellite) will be the first open platform allowing the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments, steer the onboard cameras to take pictures on-demand, and even broadcast personalized messages back to Earth. By supporting the project you're not only reserving your place at a discounted price at the front of the line to use it once it's in space, but you're helping us develop a platform to make space access affordable and achievable for anyone."

More information at Kickstarter

Astronomers Map 40 Million Stars

"Astronomers will soon have access to a new map of the sky that accurately measures the brightness and position of over 40 million stars. This map is a result of the AAVSO Photometric All-Sky Survey, which has completely covered the sky at a level 100 times fainter than any prior stellar catalog. Millions of stars will have their brightness and color measured accurately for the first time in this survey. The survey is predominantly a pro-am volunteer effort. A team of professional astronomers is primarily responsible for the photometry while a team of amateur astronomers is helping with the equipment, purchased with support from the Robert Martin Ayers Sciences Fund."

Crowdsourcing Yourself Into Space

The Crazy DIY Spaceflight Project That Just Might Work

"Keith Cowing, editor of NASAWatch.com, said Copenhagen Suborbitals has yet to convince anyone that they've built something safe to fly in. Spine-severing vibration, blackout-inducing acceleration and catastrophic hardware failures could each doom a would-be passenger. "But the fact that I'm not making fun of this and worrying about detailed technical aspects is fascinating. We don't giggle at it anymore," said Cowing, a former biologist who did payload integration for NASA and has completed suborbital scientist astronaut training. "In the past few years, it's no longer considered lunacy to try and build a rocket ship that you or someone could get into and take you to edge of space," he said. "I think we're watching something that may be bigger than we realize it is. Copenhagen Suborbitals is an extreme example."

NASA Is Lending Satellites

NASA Lends Galaxy Evolution Explorer to Caltech

"NASA is lending the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, where the spacecraft will continue its exploration of the cosmos. In a first-of-a-kind move for NASA, a Space Act Agreement was signed May 14 so the university soon can resume spacecraft operations and data management for the mission using private funds."

Keith's note: Wow. Is NASA going to adopt this approach for the reuse of other spacecraft? This could be very interesting.

What is Happening: IT Labs is the Technology and Innovation Program for the NASA Chief Technology Officer for Information Technology. The goal of IT Labs is to leverage expertise across the Agency to identify challenging problems, ideas, and solutions and integrate IT solutions and innovations into the Office of the Chief Information Officer service model. IT Labs wants to fund your innovative ideas for IT-related solutions that can be used across all NASA centers. NASA's IT Labs Program http://labs.nasa.gov/ will be accepting proposals during its First Annual Project Call from May 14 through June 15, 2012. This is your chance to help solve challenging Information Technology problems and introduce new technologies across the Agency. If you have an idea, please coordinate with your NASA Center Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to submit a proposal on the IT Labs website. IT Labs will review all submissions and fund a limited number of projects.

Crowdsourcing Asteroid Detection

Amateur astronomers boost ESA's asteroid hunt

"A partnership with the UK's Faulkes Telescope Project promises to boost the Agency's space hazards research while helping students to discover potentially dangerous space rocks. ESA's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme is keeping watch over space hazards, including disruptive space weather, debris objects in Earth orbit and asteroids that pass close enough to cause concern. The asteroids - known as 'near-Earth objects', or NEOs, since they cross Earth's orbit - are a particular problem. Any attempt to survey and catalogue hazardous asteroids faces a number of difficulties. They're often jet black or at least very dark, they can approach rather too close before anyone sees them, and they're often spotted only once and then disappear before the discovery can be confirmed."

NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge

"Several weeks ago NASA and a number of sponsors held the International Space Apps Challenge. The intent was to enlist people from all across the world to create solutions to problems and issues associated with spaceflight. The participants were truly spread out across our planet including Antarctica with support from the crew aboard the International Space Station. ... I think it is inexcusable that NASA has not made more of an effort to promote things such as the International Space Apps Challenge - especially when the White House places such a priority on things like this. There is much risk in this ad hoc and dysfunctional public engagement policy at NASA. Now that the first apps challenge event was such a success, efforts like this could continue - without overt NASA involvement - thus making NASA less - rather than more relevant."

The International Space Apps Challenge will take place this weekend, April 21-22, 2012. Nearly 2,000 people are registered to attend in 24 cities around the world.

NASA is working with 8 other government agencies and over 100 organizations world wide to host the two-day technology development event. Solutions to over 60 challenges related to open source software, open hardware, citizen science platforms, and data visualization will be worked on throughout the event, including an opportunity to launch your code to space on NASA's phonesat!

The locations include:

Help Explore The Moon

Through MoonMappers The Public Is Offered a Chance to be Part of NASA Lunar Science

"The MoonMappers citizen science project at CosmoQuest.org invites the public to become part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's science team. Through this project, the public is invited to explore high-resolution lunar images and map out scientifically interesting features. MoonMappers was designed and programmed at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in collaboration with scientists from around this world. The focus of MoonMappers is two-fold: To determine the most effective way to map craters on the Moon, and to use those maps to define areas for follow-up study."

"Hello my name is Nick Centera and I have put together a small team of independent filmmakers bound together by a project called "From The Sky". This is a short film sparked by the idea of interplanetary communication that Nikola Tesla claimed as reality as early as 1899. From the Sky is a short film about a young man's journey to develop one of Nikola Tesla's greatest ideas, interplanetary communication. While alone in a field one night, he has an encounter with something not of this world." They are crowd sourcing funding for this project - more at indiegogo

International Space Apps Challenge

NASA Launches International Competition to Develop Space Apps

"NASA, governments around the world and civil society organizations will co-host the International Space Apps Challenge on April 21-22 with events across seven continents and in space. The apps competition will bring people together to exploit openly available data collected by space agencies around the world to create innovative solutions to longstanding global challenges. An initiative of the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan, the challenge will showcase the impact scientists and citizens can have by working together to solve challenging problems that affect every person on Earth. Events will take place in San Francisco; Exeter, U.K.; Melbourne, Australia; Sao Paulo; Nairobi, Kenya; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tokyo; McMurdo Station, Antarctica; and the International Space Station."

Autonomous Space Capture Challenge Opens Algorithmic Crowdsourcing to General Public

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators and MIT, today announced registration has opened for the Autonomous Space Capture Challenge, an algorithm competition from Zero Robotics which seeks computationally efficient code solutions for a hypothetical mission scenario which models autonomous docking or satellite servicing procedures. The online challenge is open to all eligible participants but especially teams from high schools and colleges. Four winning submissions will be tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in the recently established SPHERES national laboratory by astronauts. Successful teams will be invited to watch the event live onsite at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or via webcast feed remotely."

SETI Live Is Now Online

TED, SETI Institute and Zooniverse Launch SETI LIVE to Empower Citizen Scientists to Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

"As part of the TED Prize Wish made by renowned astronomer Jill Tarter, the TED Prize today launches SETI Live (setilive.org): a site where - for the first time - the public can view data being collected by radio telescopes and collectively help search for intelligent life on other planets. TED, the nonprofit dedicated to Ideas Worth Spreading, established the TED Prize in 2005, born out of a vision by the world's leading entrepreneurs, innovators, and entertainers to turn ideas into action one Wish at a time. SETI Live was created in collaboration with Zooniverse team at Chicago's Adler Planetarium and is the latest development of Dr. Tarter's 2009 TED Prize wish, "to empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company."

"Imagine returning from an exhausting adventure only to find that your home is abandoned, empty. Not just your home, but your neighborhood, your city, in fact, everyone, everywhere, seems to be missing. This is what happens to the crew of the first manned mission to Barnard's Star -- they return after awakening from suspended animation to find that their ship-board AI has sent them on a relativistic tour of the stellar neighborhood while they slumbered, dilating time so severely that nearly 200 years have passed on Earth. After coming to, they discover their vessel is adrift at LaGrange point 5, within visual range of a vast O'neill cylinder-colony." More.

The Collaboration Project, Astronaut Ron Garan via open.nasa.gov

"For thousands of years of human history, the vast majority of people in the world believed that it was impossible to fly to the Moon - simply because it had never been done before. Up until about 50 years ago people would have thought you were crazy to suggest we could go to the Moon, but human ingenuity and the determination of the human spirit proved that it was possible. Today, many people believe that it is impossible to solve the problems of the world. It is widely believed that is impossible to lift the poor out of poverty. 'There have always been poor in the world and there always will be,' they say. If we can land on the Moon and return to Earth safely, if nations can join together and build an enormous research facility in orbit, we can, by working together, solve many of the challenges facing our planet including the alleviation of poverty. Nothing is impossible."

Random Hacks of Kindness

RHoK-ing it out with NASA Data, open.nasa.gov

"This weekend, 34 cities across the globe will play host to Random Hacks of Kindness #4. Random Hacks of Kindness is a community of innovation that brings together subject matter experts with volunteer technologists to develop open technology solutions to the global challenges. NASA has a long history with RHoK - we were one of the founding core team members and have been involved ever since!"

Kinect Asks for Blue Sky Ideas

Ten Startups. Three Months. Unlimited Innovation.

"If you are a developer or existing team/startup focused on building a business that takes advantage of the Kinect and Natural User Interface technologies, then the Kinect Accelerator is where you need to be. Through this program, Microsoft is supporting entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators like you to bring to life a wide range of business ideas that leverage the limitless possibilities Kinect enables. Following a competitive screening process, ten finalists will be chosen for this unique three month incubation program running from March to May, 2012 in Seattle, WA. The Kinect Accelerator is "powered by TechStars" using the same mentor-driven methodology pioneered and proven in New York, Boulder, Seattle and Boston. Mentors for the Kinect Accelerator include a broad base of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the industry as well as executives from Microsoft Studios, XBOX, Microsoft Research and other Microsoft organizations.

What the program offers: Every company participating in the Kinect Accelerator will receive an investment of $20,000, an Xbox development kit, the Windows Kinect SDK, office space, all the resources of BizSpark, technical training and support, and mentorship from entrepreneurs, investors and Microsoft executives intensely focused on making their business a success. At the end of the program, each company will have an opportunity to present at an Investor Demo Day to angel investors, venture capitalists, Microsoft executives, media and industry influentials."

Think about this: How about a Kinect-based Robonaut Interface?

- Video: Hacking Kinect - NASA Applications?, earlier post
- Space Droids Using Sign Language?, earlier post

Many scrappy returns - A new plan to allow ordinary investors to bet on start-ups, Economist

"On November 3rd, surprisingly, a bill was passed by the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support. The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act aims to make it easier for small businesses to raise money through "crowdfunding". For the first time ordinary investors would be allowed to put up to $10,000 in small businesses that are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, enabling Joe Schmo to win big if the company becomes the next Google."

H.R.2930 Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act

"Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act - Amends the Securities Act of 1933 to exempt from the prohibitions against use of interstate commerce and the mails for sale or delivery after sale of unregistered securities, including unregistered security-based swaps, any transactions involving the issuance of (crowdfunded) securities for which: (1) the aggregate annual amount raised through such issue is $5 million or less; and (2) individual investments in the securities are limited to an aggregate annual amount equal to the lesser of $10,000, and 10% of the investor's annual income. Authorizes an issuer to rely upon certifications provided by investors. Amends the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to exclude persons holding crowdfunded securities under this Act from application of "held of record" requirements with respect to mandatory registration of securities. Amends the Securities Act of 1933 to exempt such crowdfunded securities from state regulation of securities offerings."

Is Crowd-Funding Coming to a Small Business Near You?, Wall Street Journal

"The U.S. House advanced legislation this week that would make it easier for smaller companies to raise money from investors. House lawmakers, in overwhelming bipartisan votes, completed work Thursday on four bills as the measures drew interest in the Senate. President Barack Obama also signaled support for at least one of the bills. Among other things, the House by a vote of 413-11 approved a bill to make it easier for companies to advertise private offerings with wealthy investors and voted 407-17 to allow startup companies to raise up to $10,000 from individuals over the Internet."

Help Fund "The Astronaut's Secret"

How an astronaut with Parkinson's Disease still won his own space race, The Telgraph

"They never told me to keep it quiet but I knew if I told the world I had Parkinson's that would put Nasa in a bad place. It would make press conferences all about me, it would raise questions."

The Astronaut's Secret, Kickstarter

"What is "The Astronaut's Secret"? "The Astronaut's Secret" will be a 60 minute documentary about the life of Astronaut Rich Clifford. It will uncover how he and NASA kept his Parkinson's Disease a secret for 17 years, explore the impact of the end of the Shuttle Program on Rich's life, and follow him as he speaks nationwide about the importance of Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease."

The Astronaut's Secret, official website

Keith's note: NASA Watch readers need to fund this project. I have pledged $100. Rich has a compelling story to tell. Help him tell it.

Status: 143 BACKERS - $18,679 PLEDGED OF $48,000 GOAL - 4 DAYS TO GO

Shackleton Energy Company Propellant Depots, RocketHub

"By 2020, Shackleton Energy Company (SEC) intends to become the world's foremost space-based energy company providing rocket propellants, life support, consumables, and services in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and on the Moon to all spacefarers. The company will use a mix of industrial astronauts and advanced robotic systems to provide a strategically-assured, continuous supply of propellants to already-defined customers in space. Critical to the success of this operation is the prospecting for and mining of ice located within deep, inhospitable, ultra-cold craters at the polar regions of the Moon."

Scientists study the 'galaxy zoo' using Google Maps and thousands of volunteers, FECYT

"More than two thirds of spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, display a central bar that can extend for thousands of light years. These colossal elongated structures are made up of collections of stars and dark matter which are held together by gravity. Now a team of researchers from Europe and the USA have measured the bar length of some 5000 galaxies with the help of amateur astronomers. The most precise results (those obtained for 3150 galaxies) have been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society journal."

Dayton City Paper Donates Full Page Ad to Space Shuttle Enterprise Petition Effort

"The quest to land retired Space Shuttle Enterprise at the National Museum of the United States Air Force received a major boost when Paul Noah, the publisher of the Dayton City Paper, donated a full page ad supporting the White House petition effort in the Oct. 18th LWV voters guide issue.

The petition launched two weeks ago, has picked up approximately 3,500 supporters and will need to earn a total of 5,000 signatures by October 30th in order to receive consideration from the Obama administration.

View the petition at "We The People" at WhiteHouse.gov"

open.NASA.gov: Analyzing the vast amount of data that NASA brings back from its missions is an enormous task. In order to improve collaboration internally, as well as engage citizens in NASA's mission, the Open Government team is experimenting with different ways to process mission data quickly. The NASA OpenGov team has enlisted the help of established NASA partners Zooniverse and Vizzuality, who have pioneered the analysis of large datasets through crowdsourcing, using the power of elegant interfaces, to engage citizen scientists in the NEEMO mission.

Using a new platform which takes a square kilometer of ocean-bottom imagery and parses it out into an easily navigable, compelling user interface, we humbly ask you to help find scientifically relevant items, in order to allow us to outline them for a broad representation of the reef. Then, traverse planning scientists can then use this aggegated data to target, or confirm the interest items for further study. We can't do this kind of science on our own. We need your help today and again when we send humans beyond the surly bonds of Earth.

The spashdown of the crew on Thursday will also mark the official launch of our beta site at neemo.zooniverse.org, part of the new Zooniverse Labs arena. Please keep in mind that we are still in beta for the site, and the site may be down periodically. If you find this to be the case, check out the NEEMO mission page for a while and come back soon!

More information on open.NASA at at Crowdsourcing Science at NEEMO-15

Amateur Skywatchers Help ESA's Space Hazards Team

"For the first time, observations coordinated by ESA's space hazards team have found an asteroid that comes close enough to Earth to pose an impact threat. The space rock was found by amateur astronomers, highlighting the value of 'crowd-sourcing' to science and planetary defence. The discovery of asteroid 2011 SF108 was made by the volunteer Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey (TOTAS) team during an observation slot sponsored by ESA's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme in September."

Crowdsourcing UAV Designs

Defense Department looks to crowd-source new drone innovations, Washington Post

"Called UAVForge, the competition is open to individuals, such as scientists, engineers or aircraft hobbyists, as well as to teams of contestants. The task is to come up with ideas for a small, silent aircraft that could be controlled from two miles away and monitor people or cars in an urban area for up to two hours while sending back still photos or video."

UAVForge, DARPA

The Astronaut's Secret, Kickstarter

"What is "The Astronaut's Secret"? "The Astronaut's Secret" will be a 30 minute documentary about the life of Astronaut Rich Clifford. It will uncover how he and NASA kept his Parkinson's Disease a secret for 17 years, explore the impact of the end of the Shuttle Program on Rich's life, and follow him as he speaks nationwide about the importance of Early Detection of Parkinson's Disease."

The Astronaut's Secret, official website

Keith's note: I just donated $100. Rich has a compelling story to tell.

Virtual Institutes and Collaboration

Virtual Institutes to Support the Scientific Collaborations of the Future

"The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI), an effort to motivate collaboration among scientists and educators around the globe to spur scientific discovery. By connecting researchers with common interests and goals, SAVI can better leverage taxpayer resources while helping to address some of society's most vexing problems. Building on beneficial partnerships initiated by NSF-supported researchers, research institutes and universities, SAVI projects will address common challenges and serve as creative hubs for innovative research and education activities across borders."

Keith's note: The International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) has recently release a large number of standards designed to structure the creation of a "vrtual observatory" that spans efforts by many individuals and organzations across the world. According to their website: "The International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA) was formed in June 2002 with a mission to "facilitate the international coordination and collaboration necessary for the development and deployment of the tools, systems and organizational structures necessary to enable the international utilization of astronomical archives as an integrated and interoperating virtual observatory." The IVOA now comprises 19 VO programs from Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States and inter-governmental organizations (ESA and ESO). Membership is open to other national and international programs according to the IVOA Guidelines for Participation."

A large number of updated standards were posted today at astro-ph (listed below):

ISS-Notify - The Space Station Light, Kickstarter

"Human space flight is an awesome part of living in the future. But why does it still seem so abstract? There are people in space right now! Did you know that? Do you know how many there are? ISS-Notify is a simple attempt at making our space program more real. Many times a day the international space station passes overhead unnoticed. Often it happens during the day when it's too bright to see the tiny dot in the sky. So this light will pulse and shine whenever the station is overhead -- making the invisible visible. This started as a simple weekend project because I thought it would be cool. I finished it in only 4 days! The response has been overwhelming. Everyone says "I want one"! I've heard from space geeks, teachers, NASA employees, and just about everyone in between."

Planet Hunters: The First Two Planet Candidates Identified by the Public using the Kepler Public Archive Data

"Planet Hunters is a new citizen science project, designed to engage the public in an exoplanet search using NASA Kepler public release data. In the first month after launch, users identified two new planet candidates which survived our checks for false- positives. The follow-up effort included analysis of Keck HIRES spectra of the host stars, analysis of pixel centroid offsets in the Kepler data and adaptive optics imaging at Keck using NIRC2."

From the Comfort of Home, Web Users May Have Found New Planets, Yale University

"These three candidates might have gone undetected without Planet Hunters and its citizen scientists," said Meg Schwamb, a Yale researcher and Planet Hunters co-founder. "Obviously Planet Hunters doesn't replace the analysis being done by the Kepler team. But it has proven itself to be a valuable tool in the search for other worlds."

Think about this: One would think that with this announcement - one that comes on the heels of the Tatooine discovery last week - that the Kepler team would be working overtime on a way to throw more of its data out - sooner - such that they can harness the crowd-sourced power of interested citizens motivated to make a contribution to the discovery of worlds circling other stars. Not only does this help in times of limited budgets, it allows the citizenry a chance to truly participate in their space agency's exploration of the universe - and therein transform that formerly distant, lofty activity into a personal one. When things get personal, people tend to want to stand up and fight for those things.

International Space Apps Competition

NASA Announces International Space Apps Competition

"NASA is announcing the International Space Apps Competition to support the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which President Barack Obama announced Tuesday. The challenge will culminate with a two-day event next year that will provide an opportunity for government to use the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of citizen explorers to help address global challenges. During the event, NASA representatives and officials from international space agencies will gather with scientists and citizens to use publicly-released scientific data to create solutions for issues, such as weather impact on the global economy and depletion of ocean resources."

Crowdsourcing Molecular Genetics Problems

Gamers solve molecular puzzle that baffled scientists, MSNBC

"Video-game players have solved a molecular puzzle that stumped scientists for years, and those scientists say the accomplishment could point the way to crowdsourced cures for AIDS and other diseases. The feat, which was accomplished using a collaborative online game called Foldit, is also one giant leap for citizen science — a burgeoning field that enlists Internet users to look for alien planets, decipher ancient texts and do other scientific tasks that sheer computer power can't accomplish as easily."

Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players, Nature Sturctural & Molecular Biology

Foldit

Think about this: Several Space Shuttle Middeck experiments used gene chips to see which genes were turned on and off during exposure to microgravity. These experiments are rather straightforward to do and can be done on the ISS. Why not take this data and put it online in a fashion similar Foldit and allow crowdsourced assistance to look into what these gene changes mean and how tissues and organisms respond? FYI DARPA, NSF, and Microsoft supported this Foldit research project.

Hunt for Apollo’s lost dog Snoopy, Skymania

"Astronomers are teaming up with schools to use robotic telescopes over the internet to scan the night sky and find the spacecraft. The telescopes, part of the Faulkes Telescope Project run by Glamorgan University, are in Hawaii and Australia meaning schools can look with them during normal lesson times in the UK."

Play as an aspiring astronaut in Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond™, the official NASA MMO game. Set in the year 2035, you will embark on an adventure into space, Mars, the asteroid belt, and the outer planets. You will uncover secrets about a threat to civilization as we know it, and build you and your team a high-tech inventory of space gear including a home base, somewhere out there. Our small group of 20 developers have won a contest* held for the best idea for an official massively multi-player online game depicting the future, and signed a "Space Act Agreement" with NASA, who chose our pitch over all others, the start of a project conceived of at NASA Learning Technologies. Can you believe it? Not only can we pick up the phone and call a NASA scientist to talk about our spaceship and exploration ideas, but we're being encouraged to be creative! It's a once-in-a-lifetime project for all of us: the kind of work you can only dream of as a game developer (and player). More at Kickstarter

A team at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has developed a new website, IceHunters (http://www.icehunters.org), to challenge the public to discover Kuiper Belt objects in the outer solar system. It is hoped that among the myriad of new objects found by IceHunters there will be an object (or maybe even objects) with just the right orbit to carry it on to a rendezvous with NASA's New Horizons spacecraft.

Random Hacks of Kindness

Global Community Experts and Volunteers Tackle Development Problems Through Random Hacks of Kindness

"RHoK is embracing the concept of 'open innovation', the idea of bringing together thousands of people from around the world to crowd source some of our toughest challenges," said Deborah Diaz, Deputy Chief Information Officer at NASA. "NASA is excited about this critical step for the innovation community. This expansion of the RHoK mission will allow more creative interaction with NASA's open data to develop impactful solutions."

Competitors build life-saving apps for disasters and emergencies in global weekend challenge

"The teams at Random Hacks of Kindness Toronto (RHoK Toronto) are among some 1,000 people in 18 cities across 6 continents participating in a global weekend-long hacking marathon, or "hackathon," that unites technologists and humanitarian experts in an effort to solve pressing problems."

Hacking for a good cause, Canoe

"It's unbelievable that the teams are able to create these mobile apps and online tools in less than 48 hours," said Heather Leson, lead organizer of RHoK Toronto. "By dinner time Saturday, one team here had already programmed a working prototype! "The best part of Random Hacks of Kindness is that no matter which teams win Toronto's pitch competition, all the participants learn, mentor and share in their world. Plus, some projects will continue and maybe become fully built," she said."

Random Hacks of Kindness rocks the ATDC, Georgia Tech

"ATDC and the Georgia Tech Research Institute are co-sponsoring Random Hacks of Kindness Atlanta going on today at the ATDC. Over 40 developers, designers, project managers and subject matter experts convened on Friday. Seven pitches were made to the group for hacks to benefit humanity. Six of the projects were picked up and are all well underway and on track to be ready by the end of the 24-hour hackathon."

"Bring It Back," a small and inexpensive microgravity spaceflight kit, has won the do-it-yourself technology and education space competition sponsored by NASA and MAKE Magazine. The competition challenged participants to design experiments that could be built for under $200 by high school students to eventually fly on a suborbital flight. In addition to being low cost, the winning entry also had to illustrate sound science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) principles. The competition was designed to inspire curiosity and create interest in STEM among classroom teachers and students.

Random Hacks of Kindness

"On June 4th and 5th, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA, HP and the World Bank, through their initiative Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), will bring together thousands of people in over 18 locations around the globe to create open solutions that can save lives and alleviate suffering. Random Hacks of Kindness is a community of innovation focused on developing practical open source solutions to disaster risk management and climate change adaptation challenges." More

We performed an image search on Yahoo for "Comet Holmes" on 2010 April 1. Thousands of images were returned. We astrometrically calibrated---and therefore vetted---the images using the Astrometry.net system. The calibrated image pointings form a set of data points to which we can fit a test-particle orbit in the Solar System, marginalizing out image dates and catching outliers. The approach is Bayesian and the model is, in essence, a model of how comet astrophotographers point their instruments.

A new full-length episode of PBS Design Squad Nation is now available online. In this episode, engineers Judy and Adam invite Felipe -- an accomplished 15-year-old pilot from Miami, Fla. -- to compete in the 2010 Red Bull Flugtag competition. Together, they team up with NASA to design and build a human-powered flying machine. With their NASA-inspired glider design, Team One Giant Leap soars off a 30-foot high deck, impressing the judges with distance and style.

Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLYzD4ukQ4s
Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w7zluiYt2Q

For more information and to find more Design Squad Nation videos and resources, visit http://pbskids.org/designsquad/.

During a Friday ceremony in Brooklyn, N.Y., NASA and Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade arts and crafts, announced the winners of "Space Craft," a contest that received more than 600 entries. Contestants entered an original handmade item or work of art inspired by NASA programs, such as the space shuttle, human spaceflight, aeronautics, science and exploration of the universe. Colleen and Eric Whiteley from Brooklyn received the Grand Prize for Best of Show for their detailed design of the Northstar Table. The table features a North Star design that, when pressed, opens a hidden drawer.

Poster presented at the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference by N. G. Moss, T. M. Harper, M. B. Motta, A. D. Epps

"While some candidate craters were observed that appeared in LROC data but not in Lunar Orbiter data, these were all very near the edge of discernable feature size and are almost certainly explained by various differences between the images (e.g. sun angle or viewing geometry). While our initial search did not find any discernable new cratering, we have shown that data from the original analog Lunar Orbiter tapes, as recovered by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery project, possesses the characteristics necessary to discern new craters at reasonably small sizes. If the entire Lunar Orbiter data set was recovered in this manner it may be possible for future researchers to apply automated methods to detect changes with much better chances of success." More

A citizen science project running for over 100 years reached a key milestone this month when an amateur astronomer contributed the 20 millionth observation of a variable star on February 19, 2011. A variable star changes in brightness over time. Records of these changes can be used to uncover the astrophysical processes within evolving star systems. With a database going back over a century, variable star astronomers have access to a data source unparalleled in astronomy.

Zooniverse Milky Way Project Update

The Milky Way Project has been live since December 7th and is still going strong, taking data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and asking you all to help us map the galaxy. If you haven't tried it out yet, visit http://www.milkywayproject.org. The Milky Way project volunteers have collectively classified more than 116,000 images. This involved marking a whopping 141,000 bubbles, 5,000 possible galaxies and 15,000 star clusters! Those are the raw numbers. When we combine all the individual drawings we find that you have created a catalogue of about 5,000 unique bubbles between you. This is about ten times larger than the current best published catalogue!

NASA's integrated technology roadmap, which includes both "pull" and "push" technology strategies, considers a wide range of pathways to advance the nation's current capabilities in space. Fourteen draft Space Technology Area Roadmaps comprise the overall integrated map. NASA developed the set of draft roadmaps for use by the National Research Council (NRC) as an initial point of departure for mapping NASA's future investments in technology.