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18 April 2016

Image of Earth from space It’s been called one of the “world’s largest hackathons”, and the University of South Australia (UniSA) will be playing a leading role in it, as a sponsor and host of the NASA International Space Apps Challenge which lifts off this week at 193 locations around the world, including Adelaide.

A total of 72 countries will be holding simultaneous events as part of the challenge, in which participants are being asked to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualizations and platform solutions that will contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

Space is a field in which UniSA plays a leading role in Australia. As a continuing host of the Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program, in partnership with the International Space University, UniSA has staged events including astronaut panels, public talks by cosmologists, space policy debates and a balloon mission to the stratosphere. UniSA hosted the Australian Space Research Conference in 2014 and is involved in organising the International Astronautical Conference, to be held in Adelaide in 2017.

Furthermore, leading the field in innovation, telecommunication research conducted at UniSA has led to the formation of Myriota PTY LTD, a newly founded company which will use low earth orbit satellites to provide two-way data connectivity for remote sensors and devices, with potential applications across a range of industries.

Formerly a NRC Fellow at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Dr Graziella Caprarelli, Associate Professor in Space Science at UniSA, and current Co-Director of the ISU – SHSSP, will also be addressing the SpaceApps Challenge participants in Adelaide, and will present her own project for the “hackers” to work on.

Associate Professor Caprarelli believes the SpaceApps Challenge is a great and fun way for the wider public to learn more about space, and to contribute directly to the work of humans in space. It also connects with NASA’s Open Innovation Initiative in which ideas and open-source solutions are sought that can make a difference in space research.

“Being able to meet other space enthusiasts and to participate and collaborate in the NASA International SpaceApps Challenge is a great inspiration, and a fantastic opportunity to be innovative and creative,” Associate Prof Caprarelli says.

“Contributions from space enthusiasts with expertise in all areas, including but not limited to science, engineering, arts, design, IT, law, education, are important to find ingenious new and original solutions to real space science and exploration problems.”

Sumen Rai, one of the organisers of the event, is also encouraging others to get involved.

“Whether you are an expert coder, a fan of science and space exploration, a seasoned software engineer, an app designer, an artist, a game prodigy, an enthusiastic citizen scientist, or simply want to feel the creative energy generated by the teams working to solve some of the most challenging space problems, there is room for you at the NASA International Space Apps,” Sumen says.

"This international hackathon is a unique way for South Australians to collaborate with like-minded counterparts across the world; and to use our expertise and creativity to unleash the vast possibilities and applications of space-derived data."

Register for the event for free, and join one of the teams on April 23-24 in the Bradley Forum, Hawke Building, UniSA City West Campus. Prizes to the best challenge solutions will be awarded on the final day.

 Registration information, additional details, and the contacts of the Adelaide NASA International SpaceApps Challenge organisers can be found at:

 https://2016.spaceappschallenge.org/locations/adelaide-australia

 Media contact: Will Venn office +61 883020096 mob 0401366054 email will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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