Canadians are Global Finalists in the Space Apps Challenge

NASA led Space Apps Challenge. Image credit: NASA.

In early October over 280,000 students globally participated as part of teams in 2400 locations in the NASA led Space Apps Challenge. From that weekend hackathon 587 teams were selected as Global Nominees of which 40 were selected as Global Finalists including two from Canada.

The NASA led Space Apps Challenge has grown into a huge global event in 185+ countries and territories and now includes participation from 13 space agencies including the Canadian Space Agency.

The two Canadian finalists came from the Mississauga and Hamilton venues. Canada had 12 venues hosting Space Apps Challenge this year. The Global Winners will be announced in January.

Space Apps Challenge Finalist – Satellite Campus 2.0

Satellite Campus 2.0 participated at the Mississauga venue (97 participants) and selected the International Space Station Earth-Observing Data VISION-aries wanted! challenge.

Their challenge is described as follows:

Data from the three Earth-observing platforms on the International Space Station are used to advance science across various disciplines, but currently only one of these platforms has a streamlined data monitoring and access pipeline. This limitation hampers the scientific community’s ability to integrate datasets and produce boundary shattering, innovative, interdisciplinary science. Your challenge is to expand the functionality of the open-source web-based tool—VSWIR (Visible to ShortWave InfraRed) Imaging Spectroscopy Interface for Open Science (VISIONS)— to include more remote sensing platforms and/or enhanced features.

The team members are Aditya Raman, Zane Beeai, Adam Mawani, Bereket Semagn, and Utkarsh Dubey.

Their project, Solara, is summarized as follows:

We have extracted datasets pertaining to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), solar flux, ozone, and temperature, complemented with geospatial mapping metadata from NASA. This integration aims to enhance the visualization algorithms in VISIONS’s current plume mapping system, which renders greenhouse gas signatures, specifically carbon dioxide and methane. We call this project Solara. Our solution expands the visualization algorithms to include CFCs, which are critical in understanding ozone depletion. This enhancement directly addresses the challenge’s requirement for “enhanced features.” Solara takes steps towards diversifying the data sources, thereby making VISIONS a more holistic tool that can analyze more factors in climate change. By broadening the scope of analysis to accommodate these compounds, the VISIONS tool can provide a more intricate and nuanced understanding of atmospheric dynamics and the threats posed by certain pollutants. Furthermore, Solara’s initiative to diversify data sources not only amplifies the versatility of VISIONS but also ensures it becomes a comprehensive and all-encompassing tool. This is of paramount importance as it empowers researchers and scientists with a multifaceted view of our atmosphere, enabling more informed decisions, comprehensive research, and the potential to devise more effective strategies for environmental preservation.

Details on the Solara project including the code is on Github.

Space Apps Challenge Finalist – Null Terminators

Null Terminators participated at the Hamilton venue (156 participants) and selected A Marketplace for Open Science Projects challenge.

Their challenge is described as follows:

There are many different open science and open-source projects and tools, but no efficient way to match project creators with interested collaborators who possess the skills required to contribute. Your challenge is to create a solution that will help people who are looking for open-source projects to work on and project creators who need skilled contributors to find each other and communicate.

The team members are Shanzeb Immad, Abtin Makariaghdam, and Daniyal Arif.

Their project, GITTOGETHER, is summarized as follows:

For this project, the computer science-oriented team, Null Terminators, created a web application using multiple different languages. The web application provides a space/platform for users to find projects that they might find interesting.

The first aspect of the application that was developed was the login/sign up page. Once a user signs up using an email address, a UID is created in our database, along with the user id, email, name and user name. These are saved in the database to be checked when the user wants to login in once again. Password authentication is done by firebase as it would be a security concern if our database contained the passwords. Our frontend, which is written in Svelte, communicates with our NoSQL database. Once the account is logged/signed in, the application proceeds to the Home page. Within this page, the user is met with multiple projects. At first, the user will see projects from any category even if it may not interest them. There is also a navigation tab on the left of the screen where the user can enter different pages on the application. This includes their projects, groups, sample projects and more.

Once a project is clicked, you are taken to a page displaying all the data regarding it. This includes, the owner, a description of the project, summary and, objective. A list on the right side of the screen is displayed of key skills and the subject the project relates to. This list is generated by an AI feature within our code which scans the description, summary and objective and obtains the key words. What is the purpose in generating the keywords? Well this is how our team implemented a way for users to view projects that may interest them without using a tag and filter like system. Each user also has an aspect in the database on interesting keywords. Whenever one enters a project page, each keyword the AI detects is inserted into the user’s keywords. The database keeps these keywords safe and keeps a counter next to each entry. When the user views another project, the database is updated. Any new keyword is added into the list with the counter set to 0 and any repeats of keywords increment that entry by 1. Then once the user returns to the home screen, the code views which entry of user keywords is the largest indicating an interest and prioritizes in displaying other projects with those subjects.

The final project is available here

Space Apps Challenge – Honourable Mention

Along with the 2 Canadian teams that are Global Finalists, three other Canadian teams were part of 62 teams that received Honourable Mention status. They include:

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