NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016

AUT once again hosts New Zealand’s involvement in NASA’s 48 hour hackathon, joining over a hundred cities worldwide.

We couldn’t come up with a better report than that published on “Stuff” by Delwyn Dickey, journalist and long-time supporter of AUT’s efforts to establish a modern radio astronomy facility.  Here is an abbreviation of her words:

“From plans for a propulsion system for a scavenger robot rounding up derelict satellites, to helping operators keep their small drones out of trouble from weather, terrain and no-fly zones.  The NASA Space Apps Challenge hackathon was back in town over Anzac weekend.

The 48-hour challenge has been running in New Zealand for the last four years, hosted by AUT University in conjunction with the United States Consulate in Auckland and the KiwiSpace Foundation.

This year saw nine teams of mostly university students and tech industry professionals hunkering down for two days of bleary eyed brainstorming.  The winning team, Luna, came up with a children's table-top tracker made with parts they can 3D print themselves. Designed to point to, and track, the real-time position of the moon, planets or the International Space Station using GPS and NASA data through a phone app, including when they are below the horizon.  The pointer would also be able to project a bright image of the object onto the walls in its actual position, at night.

This is third time lucky for project leader and AUT electrical engineering Master's student Yasir Al-Hilali.  He was involved with an astronaut wearable tech project three years ago and came runner-up with a fresh water project for Africa last year.  With a background in software development Massey University student Bilal Jumaah helped develop the app.

The runner-up team, Hololaunch, came up with an app aimed at students up to high school level with directions on how to make a clear prism which made rocket launch videos' appear three dimensional. The type of rocket, weather conditions for the launch, rocket noise and even vibration could all be selected for the launch video.

Tough judging was handed out by political and economic officer with the US Consulate in Auckland, Craig Halbmaier, Dr Michelle Dickinson aka Nano Girl, and engineering and propulsion analyst at Auckland based RocketLab, Dr Rolf Gehre.

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