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2021 NASA International Space Apps Challenge Winners Announced

By Keith Cowing
December 10, 2021
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2021 NASA International Space Apps Challenge Winners Announced

Keith’s note: The 2021 NASA Space Apps Challenge winners were announced today. I have posted an annotated list below. This is one of the finest worldwide outreach efforts that NASA has ever done over the half century of its existence. It is a superb example of the use of NASA’s global branding in a synergistic, soft power fashion. Alas, while Thomas Zurbuchen at SMD has openly embraced this effort, over the past decade the rest of NASA has given only lukewarm mention – if any. I will have a detailed look at this project online on Monday.
NASA’s 10th Space Apps Challenge Increases Global Participation, earlier post
NASA International Space Apps Challenge Winners
Best Use of Science – Ani’s Cuff (Seeing the unseeable – Viewing Bugs from Space) Taipei, Taiwan – “Our lives hinge on the wellbeing of insects; at the same time, insect biodiversity is disproportionately affected by human actions. Your challenge is to develop innovative ways to advance our ability to detect insect life, track and predict change over time, and communicate that information to scientists and society to combat the loss of insect biodiversity.”
Best Use of Data – Cambridge Asteroids – Cambridge, UK – “From Earth, the Trojan asteroids appear to be single points of light; their light curves – the way their observed brightness varies with time – are one of the few clues available to scientists working to determine the shapes of these distant bodies. Your challenge is to design a tool that allows users to explore how the shape of an asteroid affects the appearance of its light curve.”
Best Use of Technology – Change Maker – Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia – “NASA produces a variety of surface solar and meteorological data parameters that are useful to commercial renewable energy and sustainable building ventures, but this information is not easily accessible to the typical homeowner. Your challenge is to develop a mobile application to access the information on NASA’s Prediction of Worldwide renewable Energy Resources (POWER) web services portal and provide useful information about sunshine to the general public.”
Galactic Impact – 4 SEEDS Chino Hills, CA – “A viable food system for long-duration exploration missions does not yet exist, but it will be necessary to maintain crew health and performance. Your challenge is to design a deployable crop production system capable of supporting the nutritional requirements of a crew of 4-6 on a transit mission to Mars and back to Earth.”
Best Mission Concept – Mohakash (Virtual Planetary Exploration v2.0) – Khulna – “Future astronauts will conduct various activities in space and on or near celestial bodies to help us learn about their mission destinations, Earth, and our universe. Your challenge is to create interactive 3D models of equipment (e.g., planetary geology tools) that future space explorers might use for activities like exploring a planetary surface.”
Most Inspirational – Bioshi (Space for Change) – Panama – “Marginalized communities are often disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards. Your challenge is to use NASA’s Earth observation data to: 1) identify regions where such environmental injustice occurs, and 2) design implementable solutions that enable equitable outcomes.”
Best Story Telling – Space Travellers from Guayaquil, Guayas Ecuador – “Long-distance space travel comes with a multitude of health risks, but it is difficult to imagine the combined effects of these risks, especially for those who are not fluent in NASA jargon. Your challenge is to create an educational game for middle schoolers (approx. ages 10-14) that focuses on keeping an avatar alive and healthy during a voyage from Earth to Mars and back, and that identifies the most difficult challenges and the biggest risks involved in human spaceflight.”
Award for Global Connection – EAGLE AI (Leveraging AI/ML for plastic marine debris) (Global) – “AI tracking system to track and follow ocean plastic with up to 100% accuracy “Marine debris is one of the most pervasive threats to the health of coastal areas, oceans, and waterways. Your challenge is to leverage Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning to monitor, detect, and quantify plastic pollution and increase our understanding about using these techniques for this purpose.”
Arts and Technology – Jimmy In The Box (Webb Origami Design Challenge) Boston MA – “The James Webb Space Telescope is NASA’s next premier space science observatory and will fulfill the agency’s vision to “discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.” Your challenge is to create origami artwork that looks like the James Webb Space Telescope and showcases Webb as a technological and design marvel using an “arts-meets-science” approach.”
Global Award Winner – Landslide Detection Squad – Perth, Australia – “Landslides often interfere with the economic development of rural communities. Your challenge is to develop a tool that uses data from NASA satellites and ground-based sources to determine the risk of landslides in rural communities and share the results with local communities and governments.”

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.