Recently in the Open source Category


How can Earth observation research explore the new challenges and opportunities created by the rapid advances in information and communications technologies?

Jay Trimble, a member of the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center, discusses Open Source Mission Control for the Chrome Browser as part of the Google Talks series.

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

"This month, NASA engineer Eric Stackpole hiked to a spot in Trinity County, east of California's rough Bigfoot country. Nestled at the base of a hill of loose rock, peppered by red and purple wildflowers, is Hall City Cave. For part of the winter the cave is infested with large spiders, but is mostly flooded year-round. Locals whisper the cave's deep pools hold a cache of stolen gold, but Mr. Stackpole isn't here to look for treasure. He had, under his arm, what might appear to be a clunky toy blue submarine about the size of a lunchbox. The machine is the latest prototype of the OpenROV-an open-source, remotely operated vehicle that could map the cave in 3D using software from Autodesk and collect water in places too tight for a diver to go. It could change the future of ocean exploration. ... NEEMO caught the eye of NASA after winning a regional International Space Apps Challenge, where 2000 hacker participants gathered across the internet and worked collaboratively on 71 problems over a 48-hour deadline."

More from Brian Lam at The New York Times

NASA Open Source Summit

NASA, State Department and Veteran Affairs Innovation Initiative Host Open Source Summit

"Registration for the second Open Source Summit, hosted by NASA, the U.S. State Department and the Veteran Affairs Innovation Initiative to advance the use of open source software in government, is under way. The event will be held June 20-21 at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. The summit will convene leaders from government and industry as well as software practitioners to discuss the development, release and use of open source software, which is characterized by a collaborative development process and free user access."

NASA Competition Challenges Coders to Make Available Huge Store of Space Informatics

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the world's largest competitive Community of digital creators, in collaboration with the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) today announced the second phase of the Planetary Data System (PDS) Challenge series This is an open call competition to create new mobile and web-based apps that will provide easier access for the general public to the Planetary Data System's vast 100 terabyte archive of images and data gleaned from planetary missions from the past 30 years."

How NASA Changed The Cloud

The Secret History of OpenStack, the Free Cloud Software That's Changing Everything, Wired

"OpenStack is software anyone can use to build their own version of Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, the massively popular web service that gives developers and businesses instant access to virtual servers. The roots of OpenStack stretch back only about four years to a skunk works project inside of NASA, but it has already overturned the status quo in both the private sector and the public. After catching the eye of Vivek Kundra -- the country's first CIO -- it's used not only by NASA but by other operations across the federal government. After it was launched to the rest of the world through an unlikely partnership between the space agency and Rackspace -- the Texas outfit that trails only Amazon in the cloud computing game -- it's now backed by over 150 companies worldwide. And it's shaping the future of such names as HP, Cisco, Dell, and -- if the rumors are true -- IBM."

Open Source Tricorder Project

Star Trek-like open-source tricorder sees magnetic fields and more, MSNBC

"A person with that level of smarts, apparently, has enough brain power leftover in his spare time to invent tricorders, not to mention the greedlessness to share the blueprint with DIYers who want their own. Instructions are available from his Tricorder Project website. Like the Trek devices, Jansen's gadgets will measure the environment, things such as ambient temperature, humidity and magnetic fields, as well as take spatial readings for distance, location and even motion. They won't, however, identify aliens for you."

How to make your own tricorder, Smart planet

"Take one part open-source code, two parts OLED display, mix in a generous helping of curiosity and serve with a side of extra-delicious geekiness. That's your basic recipe for a real-life tricorder, as envisioned and modeled by Dr. Peter Jansen. The result is a handheld device with sensors for reading atmospheric, electromagnetic and spacial properties in the surrounding environment. Dr. Jansen's tricorder won't necessarily detect alien life-forms, but there's plenty of room to expand on his open-source design. Your mileage may vary."

Researcher publishes specs for real Linux-powered Star Trek tricorder, Ars Technica

"The Mark 2 tricorder, which is the more sophisticated of the two devices, runs Debian Linux on an ARM920T-based Amtel microcontroller. It is designed in a clamshell form factor, with a pair of OLED resistive touchscreen panels on the inside. Jansen's Mark 2 tricorder is powered by a lithium polymer battery (more energy efficient than the Mark 2 EMH, which is powered by Andy Dick) that fits inside the device's housing. The built-in sensors can measure temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields, color, ambient light level, GPS location, and distance to a surface."

Open Source at NASA

NASA Clears The Runway For Open Source Software

"The NASA Open Government Initiative has launched a new website to expand the agency's open source software development. Open source development, which invites the public access to view and improve software source code, is transforming the way software is created, improved and used. NASA uses open source code to address project and mission needs, accelerate software development and maximize public awareness and impact of research."

NASA Launches Code.NASA.gov

"Today we are launching code.nasa.gov, the latest member of the open NASA web family. Through this website, we will continue, unify, and expand NASA's open source activities. The site will serve to surface existing projects, provide a forum for discussing projects and processes, and guide internal and external groups in open development, release, and contribution.

In our initial release, we are focusing on providing a home for the current state of open source at the Agency. This includes guidance on how to engage the open source process, points of contact, and a directory of existing projects. By elucidating the process, we hope to lower the barriers to building open technology in partnership with the public."

More at open.NASA

USPTO Launches $50,000 Imaging and Text Recognition Innovation Challenge on TopCoder-Powered NASA Tournament Lab

"TopCoder(R), Inc., the leader in online programming competition, skills assessment and competitive software development, today announced the opening of registration for a new $50,000 contest to develop new and innovative algorithms to aid the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in patent review."

Why Wikis at NASA?

"The NASA workforce is hungry for ways to improve collaboration. Wikis can help--and are helping--to do that. These powerful tools exist at every NASA center and across many levels of organizations, from wikis running on a temporary server for a team of five to others for the benefit of an entire field center. There are grassroots, bottom-up systems, originating to meet a particular need for a specific project or group. There are top-down institutional systems, provided for the benefit of a larger organization. Among other uses, they are helping project managers promote better communication within their teams, and engineers collaboratively document the results of their work." More at open.NASA.

Science Magazine Honors Open Source Physics

Open Source Physics, Science

"Scientists routinely use computer modeling and computation in innovative research, including predicting the nature of He4 at extremely low temperatures and the impact of human activity on climate. Why does computer-based modeling remain absent from many educational programs? The Open Source Physics (OSP) project, www.compadre.org/osp/, seeks to enhance computational physics education by providing a central Web site containing computer modeling tools, simulations, curricular resources such as lesson plans, and a computational physics textbook that explains the pedagogic simulations' algorithms (1). Our resources are based on small single-concept simulations packaged with source codes that can be examined, modified, recompiled, and freely redistributed to teach fundamental computational skills. Students at all levels will benefit from these interactive simulations by learning to question and assess the simulation's assumptions and output."

SPORE, Science Prize for Online Resources in Education; www.sciencemag.org/site/special/spore/

data.nasa.gov API

Announcing the data.nasa.gov API, open.NASA

"We're excited today to announce the launch of our Data API for data.nasa.gov, the collaborative online database of NASA datasets we launched in August. The data.nasa.gov API allows a machine-readable interface to return metadata from the site organized by category, tag, date, or search term. We're hoping this allows new and creative visualizations of the data resources NASA provides to the public. Additionally, it is a learning experience for us as we work to expand transparency, participation, and collaboration at NASA through new uses of technology. You can view documentation on the API directly on data.nasa.gov. As this (like all of our project) is a continual work-in-progress, we would love your feedback on the tool and your ideas on how you would improve access to NASA's public data."

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):

NASA Ames To Host Open Source Summit

NASA will host a summit about open source software development on March 29-30 at the agency's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PDT on both days. NASA's first Open Source Summit will bring together engineers, policy makers and members of the open source community. Participants will discuss the challenges within the existing open source policy framework and propose modifications to facilitate NASA's development, release and use of software.

Only days before the NASA Stardust spacecraft beamed home comet photos long awaited by astronomers, other researchers revealed the factors that motivated citizens to volunteer without pay to examine more than a million images of space dust captured by the spacecraft's predecessor.

The team of researchers headed by Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) Assistant Professor of Technology Management Oded Nov reported citizen astronomers were best motivated to spend unpaid hours looking for microscopic stardust particles by the project's objectives, the fun they experienced and the reaction they expected from their friends and family. Some of those motivations varied significantly from other crowd-sourced projects.

The iConference 2011, held February 8 - 11, 2011 in Seattle, chose "Dusting for Science: Motivation and Participation of Digital Citizen Science Volunteers" for its Best Paper Award. Co-authors are Nov, Ofer Arazy of the University of Alberta School of Business and David Anderson of Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). A few days after the conference closed, on February 14, the second Stardust spacecraft beamed home its comet images. Meanwhile, thousands of volunteers have been sifting for years through 1.6 million series of digital images in search of interstellar dust captured by the predecessor Stardust spacecraft. That daunting volunteer project, called Stardust@home and headed by UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory Associate Director Andrew Westphal, was studied by Nov and his colleagues.

DARwIn - OP: (Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence - Open Platform) is an affordable, miniature-humanoid-robot platform with advanced computational power, sophisticated sensors, high payload capacity, and dynamic motion ability to enable many exciting research, education, and outreach activities. Darwin runs on UbuntuLinux (adaptable to other systems).

- More information at Source Forge
- More information at Robotis Home Page

Imagine the NASA hacking applications. Remove the legs and put this robot's upper body on a small ROV. Make the arms longer, add better (and exchangeable) end effectors, and put better optics in its head. Video below.

NASA field centers participated in a pilot program recently called NASA@Work to facilitate internal problem solving and communication across the agency. The goal of NASA@Work is to leverage the breadth and depth of NASA technical expertise by offering solutions to challenges that exist in currently funded NASA projects. InnoCentive Co., hosted the pilot program in coordination with NASA Johnson Space Station and the HQs Office of the Chief Technologist's Partnerships, Innovation and Commercial Space Program. Jan Aikins served as the "Center Champion" for NASA Ames Research Center and coordinated NASA Ames' participation in this pilot program with the Center Chief Technologist's Office led by John Hines.

Allowing Kinect to go Semi-open Source

While Apple plays cat-and-mouse games with iPhone jailbreakers, Microsoft is playing a far friendlier game with Xbox Kinect hackers. Two Microsoft employees went on the radio Friday and said nobody was going to get in trouble for making open source drivers for Xbox Kinect. In fact, they said, Microsoft was "inspired" by how fans and hobbyists were adapting its camera. More at Wired

NASA Is Embracing Open Source

Open source is NASA's next frontier, FCW

"The challenges to government's adoption and participation in open-source communities is often thought to be a simpe culture clash, but in reality it goes deeper than that, accordning to NASA's newly-appointed chief technology officer. "The issues that we need to tackle are not only cuture, but beyond culture," said Chris Kemp, formerly chief information officer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "And I think we need new policy and support from the administration and Congress to help us tackle" them."

NASA Names Chief Technology Officer for IT

"NASA Chief Information Officer Linda Cureton announced Chris C. Kemp as the first NASA Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, for Information Technology, a new position established to lead IT innovation at the space agency."

A Hackable, Wrist-mounted Tricorder?

From Texas Instruments (available soon for $49.00): eZ430-Chronos Wireless Watch Development Tool (915 MHz US Version): "The eZ430-Chronos is a highly integrated, wireless development system based for the CC430 in a sports watch. It may be used as a reference platform for watch systems, a personal display for personal area networks, or as a wireless sensor node for remote data collection. Based on the CC430F6137 <1 GHz RF SoC, the eZ430-Chronos is a complete CC430-based development system contained in a watch. This tool features a 96 segment LCD display and provides an integrated pressure sensor and 3-axis accelerometer for motion sensitive control. The integrated wireless feature allows the Chronos to act as a central hub for nearby wireless sensors such as pedometers and heart rate monitors. The eZ430-Chronos offers temperature and battery voltage measurement and is complete with a USB-based CC1111 wireless interface to a PC. The eZ430-Chronos watch may be disassembled to be reprogrammed with a custom application and includes an eZ430 USB programming interface." [More at Ti]

Android Open Data Kit

Getting developing world data with Android and Open Data Kit, Ars Technica

"In the developed world, getting real-time data can be a simple matter: simply carry whatever sensor is required, get the data, and then plug into the local network--you're set. Things aren't so simple in the developing world, where there may not even be a power source available, much less specialized hardware or a network. To help field workers obtain the information they need and integrate it into a data collection system, computer science researchers at the University of Washington have developed the Open Data Kit, which includes server software for aggregation and management, developer tools to create forms, and client software that runs on the Android platform."