Space apps 2016  Pasadena: Image by Emily Sky of #TeamStardust Global Nominee team

Using virtual reality, origami, and space simulations, thousands of Space Apps innovators presented their inventive open data ideas around the globe today.

The fifth annual International Space Apps Challenge featured more than 16,000 students, experts, engineers, makers, artists, and storytellers at more than 160 events on 6 continents collaborating and using open data to create out-of-this-world innovations in the name of progress in technology, aeronautics, the space station, the solar system, Earth, and the journey to Mars.

Over the course of 48 to 72 hours, Space Apps worked to achieve a broader purpose.  NASA Chief Information Officer Renee Wynn put it best, “Space Apps 2016 matters because we have to spark the imagination of all corners of the globe in order to advance science and technology and release the power of data to everyone.” Wynn adds, “It will help us get our way to Mars and back.”

Nick Skytland, Data Evangelist with NASA, reflected on the origins of Space Apps. “Like all great ideas, it all started on the back of a napkin and we were just thinking about how we engage more people in space exploration; how do we make it a dinner table conversation?” Skytland said. “The International Space Apps Challenge was just really born with the heart for engaging people in space exploration."

A global social media map marks #SpaceApps engagement across the globe. From April 1 through Sunday afternoon April 24, the hashtag generated more than 53 million impressions on Twitter.  Buenos Aires, Argentina participated in Space Apps for the first time this year. Ten teams worked hard with great support from CONAE (an Argentine Space group), the local government group working on Open Data and INVAP, a state company that spun off of the Argentine Atomic Commission.

In Cairo, teams applied virtual reality technologies to build projects ranging from environments to explore Mars to a VR dodgeball game in space! New York City and Irvine, California saw two of the youngest participants in Space Apps history -- 9-year-old Laura Doyle is the creator of ISSIE, addressing fitness in space and 4th grader Chelsea Rosales who had never been to a hackathon before, came Space Apps Irvine with her family who drove 1.5 hours from Riverside.

With all of that said, after 48 hours of hacking, all of the passionate problem solvers delivered more than 1,100 diverse ranging projects. NASA will announce the global winners in May. The winning teams and leads from their host cities will be invited to attend a launch at the Kennedy Space Center.

Curated social media stories from across the globe give voice to the dynamic data science extravaganza that was Space Apps 2016!

About Davar

Davar Ardalan is the Space Apps Storyteller