The agency this week launched the International Space Apps Competition and plans to collaborate with other space agencies to encourage not only scientists and developers but also citizens from around the world to create, build, and invest in new technology that will help address global problems.
"Space agencies around the world are continuing to focus on a vigorous path of innovation and technological development leading to an array of challenging and inspiring missions to destinations with an incredible potential for discovery," according to information on the competition's website. "The International Space Apps Challenge provides new opportunities for governments to engage citizens in this exploration mission by leveraging their expertise and entrepreneurial spirit to help address challenges of global importance."
[NASA faces many challenges, including falling behind in developing new technology]
Those that want to participate in the challenge can use publicly released scientific data to do so, NASA said. NASA currently is working with its international partners to determine the timing and other aspects of the competition, which will take place next year.
People can and already have submitted "problem statement ideas" on the competition website to suggest problems that might be targets for new applications and technology. Ideas range from a Web service that will allow for on-demand extraction of weather forecasts along a planned travel route to a repository of NASA medical data.
The move supports the Open Government Partnership unveiled earlier this week by President Obama. The partnership is a 46-nation effort to improve government transparency that builds upon the administration's own efforts to increase transparency and public engagement.
The competition also is in line with the government's new mandate for NASA, which ended its space shuttle program earlier this year and--while it continues to pursue space exploration activities--is turning its attentions to solving problems on earth as well. The president's fiscal-year 2012 budget request focuses on more well-rounded technology efforts form the agency that will increase knowledge about the solar system, improve life on earth, and increase space commerce, among other things.
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