Space Apps Challenge 2017

Fri 28 April 2017

This is my pitch for the NASA Space Apps Challenge 2017 in Exeter. Looking at the challenges, I noticed that there were three major aspects of data handling:

  • Discovering stuff
  • Visualising stuff
  • Meaning from stuff

I reckon that one way of approaching this is to look at how we can integrate all these - can we sketch out a plaform to help people discover what data is available in their areas of interest, and then help them visualise this?

(Dr. Know from the movie Artificial Intelligence, 2001).

Possible approaches

  • Can we use a "chat bot" approach?
  • Can our chat bot suggest topics it can handle, and offer the visitor the option of asking deeper questions?
  • Can our chat bot help the visitor visualise the information once they find something of interest?
  • Can we crowdsource the effort to build the database and bring in information from outside?
  • Remember, we're not trying to build a fully working solution in 36 hours - just paint a picture of what's possible, and think through the problem with a wide audience.

Think of it like "Wikipedia for data" or "Wolfram Alpha for the public" or "Pinterest for visualisations". I reckon we can pick one of the challenges below as a demonstration project, and submit on that basis - but this project has the potential to solve similar challenges on a larger scale.


I'm looking to chat with people with a broad range of backgrounds:

  • backend developers for the database
  • frontend developers for the web interface
  • mobile developers who can help with an app or webapp
  • artists who can help make it more approachable for a broad segment of the public (i.e. not just scientists)
  • linguists who can help figure out what sort of things people might want to say to the system
  • educators who can help design the teaching side of the material
  • any others with an interest in this


The challenges