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PA OPINION

Bringing ingenuity to life with the NASA Space Apps Challenge

We believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world. While we strive to create that future through everything we do with clients, we also volunteer our time to encourage others to innovate and make a real difference. And that’s where our work with NASA’s Space Apps Challenge comes in.

For the last seven years, NASA has run a global innovation competition, getting people around the world to come together to tackle challenges we face on Earth and in space. And for five of those years, we’ve hosted the most successful regional event.

With up to 27,000 people a year taking part, NASA looks to partners like PA to host the 48-hour challenge in their city. So, each year, we invite anyone in the UK who shares our passion for innovation to join us in devising solutions to interesting challenges.

The London event has proven incredibly successful, producing five global champions in the seven years of the competition. In 2014, when PA took part in the challenge rather than hosted it, we won the Galactic Impact Award for our SkySnapper air quality tool. And the winners of the PA-hosted 2017 challenge have even gone on to turn their invention, a wearable that detects toxic gases, into a business. While the idea originally came from the problem of astronauts getting trapped in a bubble of exhaled CO2 when in zero gravity, the wearable has applications for mining on Earth – a 21st century canary.

In 2018’s UK event, which we hosted in Belfast for the first time, ideas included a tool that turns NASA Earth images into art and another that helps people prepare for natural disasters. And a team of PA software engineers is one of 24 finalists after creating a game based on Hubble Telescope images.

Every year we see more incredible inventions that will help build a positive human future, and we’re sure our UK Space Apps Challenge will continue to see success.

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