NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017

I recently (April 29 & 30th) had the opportunity to participate in the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017 in Noordwijk at the European Space Agency's Space Business Incubation Center (ESA SBIC).  This was the second year in which I was able to participate as one of the jury members for the International Space Apps Challenge.  


Each year the participants present their project (solutions) to their respective challenges in an exciting, passionate, and creative way.  This year was no exception, and the level of competition made for a difficult task for the jury to only select two teams to move onto the next round of the competition.  For more information on the events of this years challenge, checkout the official website: NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017.

Students, professionals, engineers, artists, coders, storytellers makers, builders, technologist, beginners and veterans from all corners of the globe are welcome to join.

Tackle a challenge using robotics, data visualization, hardware, design and many other specialties! Inspire each other while you learn and create using stories, code, design and, most of all, YOUR ideas. Show us your problem-solving skills and share your talents with the world!
— NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017

This year the participants were greeted on Saturday morning by members of the 501st Dutch Garrison for some interstellar inspiration.  Later in the day there was lots of food, music, entertainment, and even some relaxation time. 

After all the hard work and presentations there were three winners, two selected by the jury, and one people's choice award selected by the participants themselves.

And the winners are...

I wan to wish the winners of this years competion the best of luck in the next round, and I am already looking forward to next years set of challenges!

NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to participate in this years NASA SPACE APPS CHALLENGE hackathon as a jury member for the ESA SBIC location in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.  I was already familiar with the event from the previous year, but this was the first time I was able to officially participate.  I had a wonderful time meeting the fellow jury members, and most of all meeting all of the participants and getting to see all of the creative and innovative proposed solutions to this years set of NASA challenges.



To better understand how this event works, NASA releases a set of challenges that range in scope and complexity for a community of "thinkers or hackers" to work together and come up with creative solutions. 

Global Community, Out-of-this-World Innovation
For 48-72 hours across the world, problem solvers like you join us for NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, one of the largest hackathons in the universe. Empowered by open data, you collaborate with strangers, colleagues, friends, and family to solve perplexing challenges in new and unexpected ways — from designing an interactive space glove to natural language processing to clean water mapping. Join us on our open data mission, and show us how you innovate.
— NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016

The participants gave their 4-minute presentations to the jury and peers after 48 hours of hard work, collaboration, and I'm sure many energy drinks. It was a hard group to judge since there were so many strong ideas.  In the end three groups were selected to move to the next round of the global competition. 

  • Toilettronic - a project aimed at simplifying the toilet experiences of space flight and stay at the ISS through wearable technology and gamification.  This group impressed the crowd with their "in-the-box" thinking on how to reduce the stress of toilet experiences in space.
  • Leaky Rivers - a mobile application focused on the use of public data and geographical information systems to inform the public on dangers of floods, with the aim of providing real-time warning systems for those who may be in or near areas of flood waters.
  • SenseAIR - a mobile platform using public data that helps inform individuals of their exposure to pollutants by using real-time spatial information. This group was chosen as the "People's Choice Award"

For a full look at all of the groups and their projects please visit the Noordwijk Location NASA SPACE APPS CHALLENGE 2016 page.  Currently the SenseAIR group is a semifinalist in the People's Choice Award category and is in 7th place overall.  With a little luck and some voting they have a good chance to make the finals. 

I am looking forward to next years competition and to see what the new challenges will be.  Hopefully I'll see you there.

NASA & JPL Visions of the Future

Recently, NASA and JPL released a series of graphic design posters that illustrate some of the possible space explorations entitled Visions of the Future.  JPL has released these posters for download, they are high resolution and can be printed in full resolution up to poster size.  These posters not only showcase the imagination of a new generation of innovators and explores, but also serves as a visual inspiration to anyone interested in graphic design, or the genre of space science.  One of the attributes of this series I enjoyed the most was the style of the posters, they mimic the science fiction imagery we are used to seeing on fictional books, games, and movies, yet each of these posters depicts real world "moon shot" exploration projects into our own solar system, and beyond. 

So if you are wanting to print off your own copy, you might ask "how do I print these big"? To help answer that I've included some tips below on printing theses off at the small poster size of 13x19" (also known as Super A3).   

For printing, I used Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 and an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 Printer on Epson Premium Semigloss Photopaper.  So as mentioned above the full resolution (300 dpi) these images can be printed in full poster size of 20x30" which is rather large, and for the wall space I have in mind for these prints, far too large.  So I decided to print on Super A3 (13x19") so I could print a selected series of three images to be wall mounted side by side.  To ensure proper printing (color, resolution, and size) I used the following settings in Photoshop to print.

NASA Image Opened in Photoshop

NASA Image Opened in Photoshop

To ensure the proper print settings I used the following (see image below for more details):

  • Paper size: ensure the paper size is correct - in this case Super A3
  • Color Management: Here I chose to have Photoshop handled the color profile that was embedded in the image to match it to the preferred printer profile.
  • Printer Profile: For best results I matched the printer profile to the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 and the exact paper I was printing on (Epson Premium Semigloss Paper).
  • Size and Resolution: Here I opted to "Scale to fit Media" so I would still retain the full border less printing of the entire image on Super A3 paper.  As a result of this the final print resolution is 463 PPI which is far more than needed (300 PPI) for a great result.  
Print Selection Dialog Box - Photoshop & Epson 3880 Settings

Print Selection Dialog Box - Photoshop & Epson 3880 Settings

The result is a sharp, fun, and inspirational graphic art poster. These would look great in your home/office or classroom.  I plan to hang these above an editing station in the Media Studio to help inspire some creativity from my students.