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.

Ali Llewellyn

International Space Apps Challenge collaborator Michael Brennan shares here about how physical and virtual participants can get started with the 50 carefully curated challenges for the upcoming global Challenge!

One of the things we are most proud of with the 2013 International Space Apps Challenge is the wealth high quality problem definitions that we have cultivated with dozens of partners from inside and outside NASA. But that leave us with an additional challenge on top of it all - where does one even start?

Start with what interests YOU. We believe there is something for everyone in this challenge set, whether you are a backyard farmer, a future air traffic controller, or future space-faring entrepreneur. No matter what your skillset is or your weekend goals are, you cannot go wrong by working with a topic that interests you. Most of these challenges have enough breadth do them that you can identify a piece that is interesting to you regardless of your background. See a challenge where you like the topic but you’re not quite sure how you would fit in? Leave a comment for others to see! And when you arrive at your local event, identify others who might be interested in that challenge.

When reviewing a challenge that might interest you, think about how you’d like to spend your weekend. Do you like being told exactly what needs to get done, down to the most comprehensive detail so you can ensure maximum impact? We have challenges for you. Your skills added to a well-defined project with clear needs can greatly increase the likelihood that your work will have a direct impact on our world. Do you like a big, open-ended challenge that lets you flex your creative muscle for a solution that reaches for the stars? We have those challenges, too. The open-ended challenges can be wonderful learning experiences and creative exercises and it is from those challenges that we often see the biggest game-changers that we could never have predicted! That is the wonderful value of massive collaboration around the globe with like-minded scientists, hackers and innovators.

You’ll also notice that there are four challenge categories: Software, Hardware, Citizen Science, and Data Visualization. This is a good initial starting point, but don’t be fooled by these tags! A “hardware” challenge may have software components. A “software” challenge may have a data visualization sub-challenge.

Let’s review some of the take-away points here on how to engage:

  1. Focus on topics that interest you personally.
  2. Figure out if you want to work on highly defined challenges, or ones that are more open-ended.
  3. Utilize the four categories to help narrow down options, but don’t be constrained by them.
  4. Think creatively about how your skills and interests can be applied to the problems that seem most appealing to you.
  5. Discuss with your peers - both virtually and at events - about how you can collaborate together on solving these challenges.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!