What is NASA International Space Apps Challenge?

The NASA International Space Apps Challenge is a NASA Incubator innovation program. It is essentially an international hackathon that lasts 48 hours in cities around the world. Here, individuals or teams can join the program, share their ideas and engage with open data to address real world problems. These problem can either be on Earth or even in Space. You basically solve challenges that could help change the world.

Part of the Open Government Partnership, Space Apps is an annual event that brings together people regardless of their background or skill level. Despite the name, Space apps isn’t just about developing apps. If you see a problem that can be fixed, you can use robotics, data visualization, hardware, design and many other specialties. After all, it’s all about sharing your talents with the world.

NASA International Space Apps Challenge
Image Credits: NASA

Where The Genes Flow: Team Codon from Sri Lanka

The first ever Space Apps Challenge was held in April 2012. Since then it has served as an innovation incubation program. This year, Space Apps Challenge 2017 took place across 187 locations in 69 countries with 25,140 participants. Among these teams, a team from Sri Lanka too made their mark.

Team Codon, comprising of members Janaka Chathuranga, Vindula Jayawardana, Kanchana Ruwanpathirana, Chamod Weerasinghe, Tharindu Kumarage, and Nadun De Silva, hailing from the University of Moratuwa have emerged as one of the five world finalists under the category of Galactic Impact in the NASA International Space Apps Challenge 2017. The category deals with coming up with a solution with the most potential to improve life on Earth or in the universe. In addition, Team Codon is the first Sri Lankan team and the 3rd South Asian team to reach the World Finals after receiving the global judging nominee in the history of NASA International Space Apps Challenge.

NASA International Space Apps Challenge | Team Codon
Image Credits: Vindula Jayawardana

Their project titled “Where The Genes Flow”, is an attempt to map and compare population genetics of a species with landscape features, climate conditions, and human activities in a region to identify potential barriers or facilitators to gene migration and local adaptation. A total of 2,017 projects were submitted for this year. How did they join the finalists? It all began when Team Codon participated in the NASA International Space Apps and were among the winners of the virtual hackathon. Afterwards, they competed in the global semifinals and were among the five global finalists in the “Galactic Impact” category. In doing so, Team Codon became the first Sri Lankan team and the 3rd South Asian team to advance to the finals of the NASA International Space Apps competition.

If you want to learn more about Team Codon’s project, you can do so by clicking here.We wish Team Codon all the very best in their future endeavors with the NASA International Space Apps Challenge. May the odds be ever in their favor.



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