NASA Space App Challenge 2019

The NASA Space App Challange 2019 is an open innovation and incubation program. It’s meant to publicly share data to come up with some unique and meaningful solutions to several problems related to space and on Earth.

Chatting with us, Keshav Tiwari, NASA Space Apps India head, expressed his views on the hackathon and how it will tackle illegal crop burning and other problems.

According to Tiwari, “we usually see NASA and what it does as only being limited to space while in reality, a lot of work that the space agency does also directly helps the general consumers.”

The ultimate objective of NASA Space App Challange is to bring awareness. “In a country like India, we’ve developed indigenous technologies to reach space, however, a sense of community is missing and hopefully with this Space App challenge, we will make space tech a little more mainstream.”

NASA Space App Challenge 2019 Will Solve Real-World Problems

According to Tiwari, two main problems need to be solved that are related to earth and space, respectively. For the former, illegal crop burning, which primarily takes place every year in Northern India during the month of Oct-Nov, is a burning issue that needs to be solved.

“Delhi is a hot spot for pollution caused by crop fires and forest fires,” said Tiwari. Therefore our solution will spot the fire via satellite imaging for a quick solution.

Tiwari told us that managing forest and crop fires will be a multi-stage process in which NASA, along with local authorities, will be involved in providing a fix.

First, the fires will be spotted using satellite imaging, and ground crew will be asked to provide the necessary images for verification. The images of the burning crop will then be processed using machine learning to make sure it’s not fake.

Upon successful initial investigation, local authorities will be informed to take necessary actions, thus preventing or reducing illegal burning.

Tiwari also talked about the lunar dust, which is a space-related problem faced by astronauts. “Lunar dust is very fine and granular in nature and it is also very sticky which damages space equipment and could pose a risk to the health of astronauts. We want to remove this lunar dust by using an electric charge to make it lose its magnetic nature.”

When asked about his thoughts on India’s ambitious Chandrayaan 2 project, Tiwari said: “The mission was almost a success except for one minor hiccup,” Tiwari was referring to the hard-landing that “Vikram” lander had to take instead of the planned “soft landing.”

“India was the first country to discover water on the Moon’s south pole and the mission was to guide Vikram lander to send images and data of the satellite’s south pole.”

“The only reason people believe Chandryaan 2 wasn’t a success is that it couldn’t send over a selfie,” Tiwari added.

Chandrayaan 2 was basically a demonstration exercise, and it was quite successful.

Speaking about the NASA Space App Challenge, Tiwari mentioned that no participating team from India or Aisa, up until now, has been able to emerge as the winner.

However, he hopes to see some good competition this year.

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