You’re invited to sift through 100 Terabytes of data for NASA

Most people we know had at least one phase where they dreamt of working for NASA. That dream may have faded for many of us, but it could suddenly be a real possibility again with a tournament NASA is holding. The goal is to sift through all of the data that they have collected; roughly 100 terabytes of pictures, telemetry data, top secret pictures of martian yeti, and models. All of this information was gathered over different missions, on different instruments, in different formats. It is a mess. Take this data and make it easily accessible to both scientists, and non-scientists. They want their information to be useful and compelling to the world.

The grand prize for your fantastic final result is $10,000 and the title of “Space Coder of the Galaxy 2012″.  I know I’d settle for a week at space camp.

Note: I just noticed the following bit:

And one talented high school winner will receive a special VIP invitation from NASA

I’m not sure if that means this is for high schoolers only, but I’m pretty sure it means a lot of them won’t identify with that space camp link above.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    Hey guys, do free labor for us and one of the many of you might get, what one of our engineers earns in a month! Yay! Sounds good. Not.

  2. chic says:

    Gary McKinnon got into all sorts of bother for doing just this. He _was_ a bit quick of the mark, but hey, with that amount of bits of data you need to be hurrying!

  3. Havel says:

    So… NASA wants to somewhat crowd source help organizing and displaying data? I think it’s cool that an organization as big and secretive? as NASA is seeking the help of the capable public.
    It’s good for saving taxpayer’s money (Because space camp, a lunch in NASA’s cafeteria, or $10K is a lot cheaper than whatever the relatively small number of capable professionals charge), and there’s (Wishful thinking) the possibility that NASA and other organizations would save a few tax dollars and involve the community in these kind of things.

    • Jarel says:

      This doesn’t necessarily save any money. It just means they get to cut costs (maybe).

      • n0lkk says:

        OK since when cutting costs isn’t saving money? Except for where poorly thought out cost cutting ends up costing money?

      • n0lkk says:

        Interesting to read about, something I would participate in if it were something I could do. Then again my interest isn’t high enough to make an effort to learn more. Really sad to read where an adult may be teaching kids sabotage if the kids ever felt they where being taken advantage of. Rather than walking away with informing while they say while they are walking away. More likely than not sabotage will bring retaliation.

      • sandlapper says:

        NOIKK I do NOT teach them to sabotage. I have CAUGHT them doing things like that, and stopped it. Actually good kids, but have not yet learned the proper way to handle being taken advantage of. It is always interesting.

  4. BlackCow says:

    Instead of a bunch of lone wolves working on projects to compete I think it would be a better idea for NASA to start a project, release the source code, and attempt to build a community of developers around it.

  5. asheets says:

    I proposed this very thing several years ago in a paper I wrote for grad school. My thesis was that NASA, NOAA, and other government organizations are sitting on massive amounts of raw data, much of which has never been looked at by humans.

    I agree that uneven distribution and formatting is a huge problem. When I was a meteorological student, getting a CD of raw weather archives would cost around USD$200. Making this information available, in its raw form, for free, is a great start to making lots of discoveries.

    My pet project, as I’ve been collecting data from various (free) sources over the years, is trying to find previously unknown statistical relationships in weather between two random weather stations. Even with just Excel, you can find a lot of interesting patterns that might just justify a further look at.

    Just imagine what you might just find if you downloaded the entire archive of Explorer 6 data and ran it through a decent statistical program on a modern computer.

  6. st2000 says:

    IS THIS REALLY NASA???

    Keep in mind that other than the people judging the contest that IT WOULD APPEAR that TOPCODER is running the show. WHO IS TOPCODER??? Why are they NOT a “.ORG”?? Why do they say things on their web pages like “Set up a free consultation to review your specific project” unless they are ultimately interested in charging you??

    I hate to be a whistle blower – but this does not sound like a DARPA challenge (like putting shredded paper back together). Far from it. It sounds more like COMMERCIAL CROWD SOURCING.

    What does that mean? I don’t know. Perhaps your efforts will be owned by someone other than your self. Maybe someone here can teach us a bit about topcoder.com.

    • Sandlapper says:

      Browser their site, that is exactly what it is. Disappointing, I have a group of teenagers who love to do similar stuff, but who would ‘manipulate’ results or code if they thought they were being taken advantage of. Can’t imagine who taught them such a thing…

  7. grbgout says:

    No love for the coding marathon this weekend (an international collaboration), or did I miss the post?

    I haven’t seen any mention of monetary gain, but all the code/hardware has to be released under an open license, and, fancy that, there’s a “challenge” for the NASA Planetary Data System Interface, which is sponsored by the NASA Science Mission Directorate.

    Personally, I’m pining to work on the GMAT: NASA Mission Simulator (Dataset link is broken, check here instead), but I don’t know if I’ll have time this weekend. Hopefully these challenge will remain workable afterwards.

  8. Kris Lee says:

    Did anybody get that from where it is actually possible download it?

  9. Mike bradley says:

    I think no prize is more appealing than the $10k insult

  10. Mark says:

    the $5,000 prize submission due date was actually 2 days before this post — due on 17 April. The post was a bit stale..

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