karen, noemi, victoria, cindy, with astro jeff and herb baker

This story was originally published in the Data Discovery digital magazine, created in coordination with NASA Datanauts, engaging with each other and subject matter experts to solve data challenges. For this story and more like it, stay tuned to the OpenNASA blog or view the magazine here. This blog is part of an 11-part series.

Today’s blog author is Cindy Chin, an entrepreneur and venture strategist with over 20 years experience in research, operations and strategy with technology companies, telecoms, pharmaceuticals, asset management firms and non-profit foundations.


Bringing Data Science to Life with Starry Night

By Cindy Chin

As part of the NASA Datanauts initiative to engage community outsiders to explore, play, and create with NASA's over 32,000 open datasets, Dr. Kate Stone’s Starry Night serves as a starting point where Datanauts can collaborate, impart new skills, and share their love for data science, technology, and space exploration with communities of diverse makeup across all ages, backgrounds, and interests.

In November 2016, I took the project to Lisbon, Portugal, and hosted a community event during the Web Summit with business leaders from 10 countries and countless industries. Two of the attendees, Wiebke Hurrelmann (Germany) and Maria Shamota (Ukraine), are now part of the 2017 NASA Datanauts class. In March 2017, I brought the Starry Night project to the European Space Agency's Sentinel 2B satellite launch in Darmstadt, Germany. Twenty space enthusiasts and attendees of the #Sentinel2Go launch event were there  #StarryNightESA. People came from more than a dozen  countries -- Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Morocco, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

Every time a Starry Night community event was planned, people expressed their excitement, right from the ramp-up phase. It was a chance for people to convene. Some knew each other from before but many were first-timers and eager to meet new people. The community events were opportunities to bond and share our personal stories about our interest and love for all things space and NASA.

datanauts in nyc

Some attendees’ presentations were technical in nature, explaining step-by-step in their social media posts how to assemble Starry Night. Some were enthusiastic makers, former attendees at hackathons, or engineering students at university eager to roll up their sleeves and put together the projects -- Jordan Lui, for example, who fired off question after question.

By the end of the evening people had put together the Starry Night storyboards successfully or they had found mentors and partners to help them with the assembly.

Regardless of where we come from, we are all interconnected and these bonds of interest will lead to future gatherings and a shared sense of adventure. Not to mention the capacity to work in collaborative environments towards a goal or mission for human space flight and problem solving!

What's next after Starry Night? I will be reunited with NASA's Chief Knowledge Architect and avid NASA Datanauts supporter David Meza on board a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, Germany, to talk about space and commercial aviation on our way to the dmexco Conference in Cologne, to be reunited with ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter. I will remember to bring a Starry Night board for Thomas and share that with him. Vehicle assembly already completed of course!