NASA, ESA and JAXA launch virtual hackathon for COVID-19 solutions

Darrell Etherington

In an impressive display of international collaboration, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have come together to launch a virtual hackathon running between May 30 and May 31, with the aim of using open data to develop innovative solutions to problems arising from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

All three space agencies obviously work together on a regular basis, but this effort, dubbed the "Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge," aims to pool their resources for a 48-hour concentrated sprint to employ Earth observation data gathered by satellites, info which should provide useful in examining how the virus spreads, and what kind of impacts it's having on the Earth, ecosystems and cities.

Each agency involved is providing access to data gathered from satellites they respectively operate. And while Space Apps has run previously as a regular challenge offered by NASA to encourage use of its data for innovative problem-solving and product development, this is the first time that all agencies are collaborating on a global virtual hackathon.

NASA has also used its own internal crowdsourcing platform to seek ideas for ways that the agency can address the COVID-19 crisis and issues stemming from the coronavirus and its spread. The Space Apps Challenge is open to outside participants, however, and often sees participation from student, science and engineering teams around the world.