Thu, 25 Feb, 2021

Technology Series: NASA App Challenge - Incredible Earth

By Sushant Gurung

Recently five students of DWIT; Shankar Koirala, Shankar Khatri, Anil Shrestha, Ashim Regmi and Abhishek Gupta participated in The International Space Apps Challenge held in Trade Tower, Thapathali, Kathmandu on 12th April. The team was mentored by Mr. Alok Koirala, Associate Director of R&D and led by Shankar Khatri, student of 5th semester.

The International Space Apps Challenge is an international mass collaboration where the number of technicians, developers, designers, scholars work together in a team to come up with an open source solution for both space exploration and social need. The event was initiated by the collaboration of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Young Innovations within the framework of SERVIR-Himalaya initiated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Also, the CSIT Association of Nepal and Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN) joined to support the issue and promote the new participants. There were all together 14 teams and 60 challenge classified under 5 categories: Technology in Space, Human Space Flight, Asteroids, Earth Watch and Robotics.

The team “DWITIANS”selected the ‘Earth as an art’ from category Earth watch and came up with an idea, “Incredible Earth”; a web application to categorize beautiful images captured by the Earth-observing satellites, nominate them, and let people vote for their favorites and eventually  recommend to NASA to get such pictures. The features of the application are:

1. The user lands into the web app, where user will be presented with raw images captured by various satellites. Users can like/vote the images as well as categorized into broad categories, e. g. Country, continent, or phenomenon; features like watersheds, coastlines, or deserts etc.

2. If a user wants to store the images in the album, the user is expected to login into the web app.

- User will be permitted to group the images (create an album) with the available images.

- Like/vote the images.

- Categorize the images.

- Share the albums.

3. Eventually the aim of this web app was to allow people to suggest and vote on new places or phenomena for Earth-observing satellites to collect images.

- Based on the data, app will generate a report to display

* Which image category has the highest likes.

* Which satellite has taken the image.

The inaugural day, members set up the required development environment for their system. They used Java, Html/CSS, and MySQL for the development of the product. They worked all night to fix the bugs in the program and to make the end user interface.

The succeeding day, each team needed to exhibit their projects in front of the justices. A project named Clean Project won the challenge. More than a competition, this challenge was a wonderful experience for the team and they are very excited to take part in these kind of events in the future. While sharing their experience, Ashim Regmi said “Before Hackathone, I never took programming in a competitive way, but now, I feel the sense of competition in programming. Wonderful experience working as a team.” Team leader Shankar Khatri shared, "I learnt to face worst difficulties and challenges. On top of these, I learnt how to tackle this type of challenges and excel at it!"