Teams of coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, technologists, and space enthusiasts in Aba, Abia State, Owerri, Imo State and Port Harcourt, Rivers State will participate in the NASA’s 2019 International Space Apps Challenge in October.
The Space Apps International Hackathon allows teams from cities around the world to engage with NASA’s free and open data to address real-world problems on Earth and in space.
For it’s 8th and 2019 edition, teams are required to use NASA’s open data and resources to solve challenges around space exploration exercise, to better understand & protect Earth’s oceans, to explore the systems of other planets and to create stories, games, videos and any product of design – that captures what it’s like to live on Earth.
For the first-time host, Owerri, the Space App Challenge will be held at Heartland Incubation hub and Aba which is hosting the hackathon for the second time since 2018, will pan out at the Rad5 Tech Hub, Aba. This is Port Harcourt’s third year to host an International Space Apps Challenge hackathon and as the time this article was published, no location was provided by the city’s lead on the Space Apps website.
Hackathons worldwide are scheduled to begin on the 18th of October through to the 20th of October and only one winner each would be selected in six categories (one award in each category – Best Use of Data; Best Use of Hardware; Best Mission Concept; Galactic Impact; Most Inspirational; and Best Use of Science).
Winners of the hackathon would be invited to a rocket, satellite or any space object launch at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., United States.
In Africa, previous winners of the Space Apps challenge includes EyeSpace – a team from Nairobi, Kenya that won the Space Apps ‘best in hardware’ category in 2015 for creating a rover that is able to evade obstacles on its line of sight. Also, a team in Cairo, Egypt was a finalist in 2018 for ‘Cognitive’, a crowdsourcing tool for citizens to contribute to early detection, and reporting of wildfires.
Conversely, no Nigerian team has ever won but however, team 3 Saiyans from Akure, Ondo State was a finalist for ‘Artify the Earth’ category in 2018 by leveraging on NASA’s Earth imagery data to create space-inspired art pieces.
Hosting a Space Apps hackathon in states in South-South and South-East gives a significant impression that creatives in the region want to also contributes/participate in the global economy and the fourth industrial revolution is their best chance at success.
“We don’t want to send a man to the moon with our Space Apps Challenge, we only want to create something that brings together techies, designers, business people, coders etc in one hall and creatively solve humanity’s problems from the lenses of different people.” Harry Tamunotonye, Port Harcourt’s Space Apps lead told 4kreport.
Nigeria’s space exploration sector has always been in existence and displays signs of future potentials but it rarely gets exploited by creatives “I think it’s the lack of information about Nigeria’s efforts through the National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA among others in the Olusegun Obasanjo Space Center in Abuja.” Tamunotonye said.
“Nigeria has satellites in Space which help collect data about disasters around the world, agriculture to help farmers and NigComSar-1R is currently providing broadcast and internet services in Nigeria. If we don’t research, we don’t get to learn much.”
Most creative and tech skills are universally relevant and the internet has drastically made the world almost borderless – skilled, young talents in the region are increasingly taking up opportunities(human space exploration) that were previously only available to their foreign counterparts.
“This is why we took up the challenge to create awareness about Space,” he said, “we can help to make the world a better place through Hackathons like this straight out of Rivers State.”
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