Recently in the Software Category


NASA has released its 2017-2018 software catalog, which offers an extensive portfolio of software products for a wide variety of technical applications, all free of charge to the public, without any royalty or copyright fees.

Following the success of the 'Astro Pi' competition, there is a new competition offering UK school children the chance to send their computer code to ESA astronaut Tim Peake on the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA and over 150 partner organizations worldwide will be hosting the International Space Apps Challenge on April 20-21, 2013. The International Space Apps Challenge is a technology development event during which citizens from around the world work together to solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and in space.

NASA and its partners have released 50 challenges for the second International Space Apps Challenge. Participants are encouraged to develop software, hardware, data visualization, and mobile/web applications that will contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

International Space Apps Challenge

"The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in 80 cities around the world (in 42 countries) on the weekend of April 20-21, 2013. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space. NASA is leading this global collaboration along with more then 150 partner organizations." 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

"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

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

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:

Testing New Software Via Nanosat

Innovative Nanosat Will Test Space Software

"How do you test ground-breaking satellite software under real flight conditions? Why not build a satellite? A new design developed by ESA promises new opportunities for European space industry to test software on an actual mission in space. The popular image of a 21st-century satellite includes a sleek design, gossamer solar arrays, ultra-high-tech components and cutting-edge digital electronics. And the onboard software must be the very latest thing, too, right? Wrong. Or, at least, the reality is much more prosaic: software used in satellites today is certainly good, but it rarely runs the latest operating systems, languages or interfaces. "Space software is generally older because it is selected for its proven, rock-solid reliability rather than its use of the latest and newest programming technologies," says Dave Evans, a mission concept engineer at ESOC, ESA's European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. "ESA is still using the Packet Utilisation Standard to control our satellites, which was defined in 1994. "Today, the software for terrestrial computers has completely changed. Who else do you know still using software from 1994? Back then, PCs were running Windows 3.1 with 3.5-inch floppy disks."

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."

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."

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."

Total Lunar Eclipse brings SkySafari to Android

"The iOS versions of SkySafari have been downloaded more than 900,000 times from the iTunes Store. SkySafari has won multiple awards, including a MacWorld 2010 Best-of-Show, Sky & Telescope Magazine's Hot Product award for 2012, and an endorsement by Astronomers Without Borders. SkySafari is the only mobile astronomy app which can correctly reproduce this December's total lunar eclipse, or any other. SkySafari's Plus and Pro versions have the largest database of any mobile astronomy app, and are the only ones which can control backyard telescopes."

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."

apps@NASA Now Online

apps@NASA Now NASA Launches apps@NASA

"NASA launched apps@NASA, a website where NASA employees and contractors can download mobile apps that securely access NASA systems. These apps enable our users to perform critical job functions at anytime from anywhere via personal and NASA mobile devices.

This is part of a full suite of services that is provided by the NASA Enterprise Applications Competency Center (NEACC). The NEACC resides at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It is supported by SAIC under the Enterprise Applications Service Technologies (EAST) contract of our Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure Integration Program (I3P). The NEACC's role is to help NASA improve business processes and to deploy enabling technology needed to implement our Agency's strategic plan."

Video: Hacking Kinect - NASA Applications?

Think for a moment: Remember all of the things in "Avatar", "Star Trek", and other SciFi films that were controlled by people waving their hands over sexy looking devices, wandering around holodecks, or using remotely controlled bodies. When Kinect was first released, Microsoft was against anyone hacking it. A similar thing happened when LEGO Mindstorms was released and hobbyists began to fiddle with the software. As was the case with LEGO, Microsoft has done a complete 180 and has overtly embraced the notion that people can take technology and do things that its originators never imagined. How could Kinect hacks change the way that NASA does things? What would it be like to use Kinect as a whole body interface with 360 degrees of movement while living in microgravity aboard the ISS? Could NASA control Robonaut this way?

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."

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Be like Steve Jobs. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

"Steve Jobs was 6 months older than me. I am certainly not done with life. Given his tectonic impact, he was clearly not ready either - even if he had faced his fate."

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):

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."

To support upcoming robotic and human exploration needs, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) anticipates that it and others will need to implement a unified architecture for internetworked communication and navigation services that span the solar system. Unlike the terrestrial internet, a future Solar System Internet (SSI) must be capable of accommodating intermittent connectivity, long or variable delays, asymmetric data rates, and high data loss rates. The underlying capability that enables the SSI is commonly referred to as "Disruption-Tolerant Networking" (DTN). The SSI will employ both opportunistic and scheduled communications paths to optimize routing among nodes of the SSI, while maintaining low communications overhead and data processing load.

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Currently, NASA has several ways the public can learn about ISS sighting opportunities, including NASA Sky Watch. However, NASA's websites do not disseminate this information to the public- the public must seek it out proactively instead.

NASA seeks to increase public awareness of the ISS, its visibility, and mission by making ISS sighting information, including personalized notifications, readily available to the general public in an easily accessible and understandable way. To that end, NASA seeks to collaborate with a domestic entity, on an unfunded basis, to support an ISS sighting notification tool.

Specifically, NASA seeks submissions for developing and releasing a tool to notify users from the general public, via email or Short Messenger Service (SMS) texts, when the ISS will pass overhead (i.e., when an ISS "sighting" will occur in the user's vicinity). Possible features include options (configured via a website) to: obtain location from IP geolocation, smartphone device geolocation, or user-entered location; specify time periods for notification (i.e., evening or morning passes only); specify minimum elevation (higher elevations are necessary to be seen by city dwellers); and specify minimum pass duration. Other features may involve depiction of ISS data integrated into existing presentation frameworks (e.g., attitude dependent skymaps on smartphones).

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AO Number (Required in subject line of email application): 799. Desired Number of Participants: 1 Background Information: The Deep Space Network tracks over forty spacecraft from three geographically separate sites in Goldstone California, Canberra, Australia and Madrid, Spain.

NASA and Harvard University have established the NASA Tournament Lab (NTL), which will enable software developers to compete with each other to create the best computer code for NASA systems. 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.

Software developers will compete with each other to create a winning solution, as measured by internal code quality, performance against benchmarks, and the ability to be integrated into NASA systems. The competition will provide the researchers with a finished software solution at a lower cost than if they hired an individual developer or team.

"NASA is at the forefront of this cutting edge approach," said Jason Crusan, chief technologist for space operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We want to advance knowledge of how to manage these tournaments and gain solutions to technical mission requirements with real world results for operational and future programs."

This approach, often termed "crowd sourcing" or "broadcast search," lessens the effects of uncertainty in software development by searching for a problem's solution through multiple, parallel paths. Instead of relying on one individual or team, the researcher can access many, independent ideas, which increases the chances of a successful solution.

Teams to Design Software for Small Satellites on the International Space Station

WASHINGTON -- NASA is challenging high school teams to design software to program small satellites aboard the International Space Station. The competition centers on the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES.

SPHERES are bowling ball-sized spherical satellites used to test maneuvers for spacecraft performing autonomous rendezvous and docking. Three of these satellites fly inside the station's cabin. Each is self-contained with power, propulsion, computing and navigation equipment.

The Zero-Robotics investigation, run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., is designed to inspire future scientists and engineers. The teams are asked to address challenges of satellite docking, assembly and flight formation. The 2010 Zero-Robotics Challenge expands on a limited pilot program performed in fall 2009. This expanded pilot, called HelioSPHERES, will involve high schools from across the country during the 2010 - 2011 academic year. This new education program builds critical engineering skills for students, such as problem solving, design thought process, operations training, teamwork and presentation skills.

ESA Uses Gaming Technology To Explore

ESA Highlights Online Games as Key Future Technology

"Video gaming has become one of the globe's most popular pastimes. Fans say games are often educational, their detractors answer they are anything but. Might ESA have something to learn from gaming? A new Agency study says the answer is yes. It comes from ESA's Technology Observatory, which is tasked with scanning non-space sectors to look for developments with potential for spin-in or joint research. The study, Online Game Technology for Space Education and System Analysis, looks at potential applications of different online game-playing technologies from the simplest content-oriented games through to Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) virtual worlds."

In line with the Obama administration's efforts to establish an open and transparent government, one of Nebula's goals is to create a secure gateway through which NASA can share select data sets with outside researchers and the American public while at the same time, limit access to it's highly-secured internal networks.

One of the projects Nebula has been very excited to support enables the public to view and explore the surfaces of the Moon and Mars in unprecedented resolution in both Google Earth and Microsoft World Wide Telescope. The NASA team responsible for these projects leveraged Nebula to perform sophisticated large-scale image processing and hosting of hundreds of thousands of high-resolution images and over 100 terabytes of data. This project involved sophisticated 3D image modeling using 2D image tiles, enabling the public to explore the surfaces of these celestial bodies in realistic, 3D worlds.

Recent ISS Laptop Upgrades

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 5 October 2009

"Gennady reconfigured an A31p laptop (#1157) by equipping it with the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) of the Russian RS1 laptop (#1145), supported by ground specialist tagup."

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 4 October 2009

"Maxim Suraev performed the periodic update of the AntiVirus program in the Russian VKS auxiliary laptops (RSS2, RSK1, RSE1, RSE2) from a new uplinked program copy on the RSS1 laptop, first scanning the latter, then transferring the database by flash-card to the other computers and scanning them one by one."

NASA ISS On-Orbit Status 2 October 2009

"CDR Padalka took Guy Laliberte on a one-hour orientation/briefing tour of the ISS, setting him up for his nine-day stay on board. Preparations included installing the SFP’s HDD (Hard Disk Drive) in the RSK2 laptop for his use. [Guy’s introduction covered SM windows 7 & 8 for Earth photo/video ops, NIKON D3X & SONY Z7 camera stowage locations & use, location for Guy’s daily VHF1 conferences, the SFP-PCG & SFP-ICG experiment container setup, etc.]"