In 2007, a small group of people began an intentional, collaborative experiment in open, transparent, and direct communication about your space program. Our goal was to enable your direct participation in exploring and contributing to NASA’s mission.

Many of us have since begun new adventures. This site will remain as an archive of the accomplishments of the openNASA experiment.

Nick Skytland

We need your help! There are a number of exciting space related panels proposed for next year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin. SXSW is a community-driven event and voting accounts for 30% of the decision-making process for any given programming slot. The selection process is extremely competitive and this year there are 3600 proposed panels, of which only 500 get selected. The more votes we submit for the space panels, the more likely a panel related to space exploration will be included in the final SxSW program. Voting ends on Friday, September 2 (11:59 PM CST), so please vote today!

To help you out, we’ve put together a directory for all the space related panels. This includes panels that have NASA representation as well others that may not necessarily be NASA affiliated.

1. A License to RHoK

Want to change the world? Then get a license to RHoK! Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) is a global initiative to create practical open source solutions to humanity’s toughest challenges. Organized by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, HP, NASA and the World Bank, RhoK brings together thousands of the best and brightest developers from around the world - like YOU - to participate in fast–paced and competitive marathon coding events resulting in real applications that are making an impact on humanity. The RHoK community has grown rapidly over the past 2 years, with 3000 participants from 43 cities who have worked on 214 distinct solutions. This talk will bring together “RHoKstars” to provide an overview of the initiative, discuss some of the solutions developed, describe how the SxSW community can contribute to the effort and most importantly, brainstorm about what is next. …and if they let us, we’ll be playing rock music and lighting off fireworks!

Questions Answered

  • How can I change the world through my mad hacking skills?
  • How do I get a license to RHoK? What does that even mean?
  • What exactly can I expect at a competitive marathon coding event?
  • What country has the largest RHoK community?
  • What are some of the success stories of past RHoK events?

2. Government as a Catalyst: Prizes 4 Tech Innovation

Want to make some money? Federal agencies have recently been given the authority by Congress to sponsor competitions for individuals, groups, and companies to develop new ideas and technology innovations for a chance to win potentially lucrative prizes. These competitions can range from new mobile outreach technologies to web-based data analytics tools to even vehicle-to-vehicle communications; the government is looking for breakthrough technologies from the minds of the most innovative and forward thinking Americans, many of whom are at SXSW. This session will highlight some of the coolest prizes for technology development that the government has been involved in to date, including the DOT’s Connected Vehicle Challenge, the VA’s Open Source and blue button projects, and NASA’s centennial challenges. Additionally you will learn about some prizes government did NOT play a role in to explore what role the government should be playing in these activities moving forward.

Questions Answered

  • What are some interesting prizes that the government has been involved in?
  • What is the role of prizes in stimulating technology development?
  • What do prizes mean to the attendees of SXSWi and how do they get involved?
  • When should the government NOT use prizes?
  • What are the trends in government sponsored prizes that we should expect to see in the near future?

3. Out of this World Engagement

The nation’s space agency and the world’s largest museum and research complex have embraced the use of social media to reach out, engage new audiences, engage existing audiences in new ways, and give the public behind-the-scenes access. This conversation with NASA and the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum will explore successes and failures in these new ways of engaging and solicit your input for new opportunities they have yet to try.

Questions Answered

  • What ingredients have been successful for new ways NASA and the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum are engaging?
  • What new strategies or tools do you think would be most important to build engagement? Are NASA and the Air and Space Museum overlooking a great opportunity?
  • How has NASA managed to successfully partner with Gowalla, Foursquare, SlideShare and more?
  • What are some of the barriers to social media adoption at government agencies and museums?
  • What are the constraints? Which barriers can be overcome (sometimes through creative solutions) and which can’t?

4. 2012: You Bet Your Asteroid the World Won’t End

Niburu! Comet Elenin! Asteroid YU55! It’s not the end of the world, really. NASA and Discover’s “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait are here to explain why. This panel discussion will take on the Internet factor in the cause and cure of 2012 hysteria. We’ll look at how urban legends spread, data gets shared and myths get debunked online. See the Web-based tools the Near-Earth Objects office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses to keep an eye on asteroids and comets (and let you know about them), and how the amateur astronomy community is helping in the effort to track low-flying space rocks. The Bad Astronomer himself shares rumor-slaying tales from behind the scenes of his popular blog. The sky isn’t falling, but misconceptions are. Join us.

Questions Answered

  • Will the world end in 2012?
  • How will I know when an asteroid is headed near Earth?
  • What asteroids and comets *are* headed near Earth?
  • How can I help keep track of low-flying comets and asteroids?
  • Why is it important to stay skeptical?

5. How to Win Friends and Influence Space Exploration

Not unlike a zombie horde ready to devour red tape and uninspired project managers, this enthusiastic movement sees brains as valuable assets to take over the world. Learn why these people got so passionately involved in space, how they became good friends over the Internet, and what they’ve created to make measurable change toward a more awesome tomorrow. While established membership organizations struggle to survive, these Internet-enabled groups are flourishing with new members from far outside traditional demographic lines that are creating large-scale activities. If you don’t already know a space tweep, learn why you will

Questions Answered

  • Why are these groups finding success where traditional membership based groups are struggling?
  • What strategies are used to give the community “ownership” and empower them to go out and do great things?
  • I need to vanquish some ignorance & ignite some passion for exploration. How do I make my own science army?
  • How did you turn excitement about an idea into projects that actually influenced space exploration?
  • I’m not rich or bored. Where do you get the time, funding & resources to make these things happen?

6. Spacebits: Awesomeness, Balloons, Space and DIY

Slightly over a year ago we had this idea of trying to launch a ballon into the stratosphere (\~100,000 feet) with a couple of cameras and get it back down safely. Since then we’ve launched 6 balloons and successfully recovered all of them. We learned a lot in the process: how inert gases cannot explode but can instead make other things explode, how to calculate volumes and weights appropriately to attain the desired height before the descent, how dropping the payload in salted water can be harmful for the cameras, how to put more and more sensors in the payload and still have it lift off, and how ideas that sometimes seem brilliant may cover hidden dangers (and extremely ridiculous moments). We have also managed to gather dozens and dozens of people around this movement, up to the point of having 12 cars with 5 people each and lots of gear running after 3 balloons simultaneously. And did we tell you running away from wild animals? Apart from telling (and showing) you all these things, we will also unveil our ideas for the future and answer your questions if you’re planning to launch a HAB.

Questions Answered

  • How can I assemble an high altitude balloon and send it to space?
  • What are the hazards and challenges for sending equipment to space?
  • What if your computer and cameras dive into the ocean?
  • What are the procedures from end to end until the launch countdown?
  • What are the legal requirements and implications of a HAB in your country?

7. NASA’s Mission Possible: Tweeting Thru Space

With 110 twitter accounts, 20 tweeting astronauts, an Image of the day posted to Facebook and more, NASA’s social media strategy is all about extending the space “experience”. For the last shuttle launch of Atlantis, 150 lucky individuals were invited to attend the official NASA Tweetup to experience the lift-off first-hand, with exclusive behind the scenes access to astronauts, facilities, lectures and more. Hear from Erik Sowa, NASA Tweetup attendee and director of engineering at ExactTarget’s Social Media Lab, and Stephanie Schierholz, NASA’s head of social media, as they discuss the process behind this groundbreaking event.

Questions Answered

  • How to translate passive bystanders into actively engaged fans and followers
  • How to tie social and physical experience together
  • How get social media buy-in across large diverse organizations
  • How to manage high volume interactions across different topics, platforms, communities
  • How to keep your social momentum going after the big event (liftoff! landing!)

8. Get Excited and Make Things with Science

The relationship most adults have with science is one of observation: watching government agencies explore on behalf of us, but not actually exploring it ourselves. Science should be disruptively accessible – empowering people from a variety of different backgrounds to explore, participate in, and build new ways of interacting with and contributing to science. By having a fresh set of eyes from those who solve different types of problems, new concepts often emerge and go on to influence science in unexpected ways. A grassroots effort called Science Hack Day aims to bridge the gap between the science, technology and design industries. A Hack Day is a 48 hour all-night event that brings different people with good ideas together in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking, and building ‘cool stuff’. By collaborating on focused tasks during this short period, small groups of hackers are capable of producing remarkable results.

Questions Answered:

  • How is hacking actually contributing to science?
  • I’m not a developer, what can I do?”
  • What types of things can I make with science?
  • Can scientists and non-scientists really collaborate?
  • How can I create a Science Hack Day in my city?

9. SpacePoints: Space Outreach at Ludicrous Speed

When NASA’s budget was drastically cut and the commercial aerospace industry found itself in charge of getting man into space, a group of “space geeks” consisting of web developers, aerospace scientists and engineers, and people who have a dream of living in space started meeting up and designed the rules, developed the application, and are sharing Space Points and are increasing awareness publicly about space policy, increasing funding to aerospace-related research (commercial and government), and having fun playing to win!

Questions Answered:

  • How did the process for crowdsourcing the inital concept and rules behind SpacePoints work?
  • How did you manage the development of the core platform with a team working remotely?
  • What success/case studies can you share around an increase in engagement and education around space-related topics in America and Globally as a result of SpacePoints?
  • How did you maintain a unified core vision with so many different projects and people coming together to add to SpacePoints?
  • How can other organizations replicate this to increase their outreach programs?