NASA and IBM rally global developers around the IBM Cloud

April 7, 2015

IBM today announced that it will offer its Bluemix platform for the NASA Space App Challenge virtual event to help developers rapidly build applications that contribute to space exploration and solve global challenges. IBM will also collaborate with NASA Space Apps Challenge events globally to offer mentorship, guidance, and tutorials for Challenge participants, and the company will help foster innovation by granting free access to over a hundred unique cloud-based services such as Watson analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) tools through Bluemix.

The NASA Space Apps Challenge is an international three-day code-a-thon where developers, scientists, students, entrepreneurs, and educators gather to build applications, software, hardware, data visualization, and platform solutions to bolster space exploration missions and improve life on Earth. This year, more than 10,000 developers are expected to participate across 136 cities. Through their collaboration with NASA Space Apps events around the world, IBM will help participants leverage publicly available data to design solutions to 35 different challenges across four categories, including outer space, Earth, humans, and robotics. Here are some examples of specific challenges:

  • Visualizing Asteroids in the Sky: Participants are challenged to leverage data aggregators and analytics to create a system that can help NASA tracks asteroids.
  • Sensor Yourself: Participants are challenged to put together a stream of senor data to guide movement for robots.
  • Crop Alert—Learning from the Growers: Participants are challenged to develop a mobile/web app/SMS capability to help growers create more creative methods of growing crops.

More than 200 NASA data sources—including data sets, services, and tools, supplied through real-life NASA missions and technology—will be available for participants to leverage for their applications. Using Bluemix, participants can call on more than 100 different services to rapidly build and iterate on solutions with team members around the world. For example, participants building solutions for the robotics category could use IBM’s IoT service to build an app for the “sensor yourself” challenge; coupling it with analytics services through Bluemix to analyze and make sense of sensor data for a potential robot simulator.

“The NASA International Space Apps Challenge is at the forefront of innovation, providing real-world examples of how technology can be used to by the best and brightest developers in the world to solve some of the most daunting challenges facing our civilization,” said Sandy Carter, general manager, Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, IBM. “Using the IBM Cloud, IBM is making it easier for developers to solve NASA challenges by helping them leverage and make sense of data in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even just a few years ago.”

For developers building applications on the IBM Cloud, IBM will provide online tutorials to showcase best practices, and it will offer dedicated virtual support with access to IBM experts to help guide the development process. IBM experts will also work side-by-side with onsite contestants to help them master cloud-based development at various locations around the world, including New York, Austin, and Boston.

Two projects from each of the 136 cities will have an opportunity to advance to global judging, where a panel of NASA judges will select one winner in each of the five finalist categories, including Best Mission Concept, Best Use of Hardware, Best Use of Data, Most Inspiring, and Galactic Impact. IBM will award up to 30 awards at local Space Apps events for the most innovative use of Bluemix, with winners receiving up to a year of free access to Bluemix and up to 80 hours of technical support and assistance over six months by senior IBM developers.

Developers interested in participating in the challenge, which runs from April 10-12, can register at

IBM launched Bluemix in February 2014 and now has more than 100 services available through the platform to help developers build, test, and deploy cloud-native and cloud-enabled applications. Since its launch, IBM has built out a network of Bluemix Garages to foster innovation with developers in San Francisco and London; partnered with the city of New York to build the world’s first online platform for local startups, and announced its Global Entrepreneur Program for Cloud Startups.

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