NASA wants you! *if you’re a data scientist, developer or designer

NASA has issued a call to arms to the [topcoder] 630,000-strong community of data scientists, developers and designers to help it to solve some of the emerging problems facing the world in the coming years.

Related: Crowd-sourcing amateurs as good as NASA scientists at spotting moon craters

The Harvard NASA Tournament Lab [NTL] signed a deal with [topcoder] owner Appirio that means the crowd-sourcing efforts of the community can be expanded in order to try and raise more than the $1.5 million [£890,000] already sourced.

“Tapping into a diverse pool of the world’s top technical talent has not only resulted in new and innovative ways to advance technologies to further space exploration, but has also led to a whole new way of thinking for NASA, and other government agencies, providing us with an additional set of on-demand tools to tackle complex projects,” stated Jason Crusan, NTL director.

There are already four major challenges that NASA is working on with the [topcoder] community and it has been happy with how they are progressing.

Asteroid Data Hunter is an ongoing challenge being conducted along with Planetary Resources Inc [PRI] and the most recent activity has involved devising an algorithm to confirm asteroid detections and reduce false identifications in images from ground-based telescopes. It does this by learning from years of human input and the second phase of the challenge, which launches on 11 August, will try to increase detection sensitivity.

The Disruption Tolerant Networking [DTN] Challenge Series looks to simplify the process of sending email to and from the International Space Station [ISS] that is 44,000 miles above earth. The latest effort has seen an enterprise email system adapted to use DTN and the solution converts email and calendar traffic into bundles so sending data is more reliable, safer and secure.

ISS FIT [Food Intake Tracker] is an iPad app developed by [topcoder] that lets NASA scientists and doctors monitor and solve the problems faced by astronauts living in the ISS.

Lastly, the Planetary Data Systems Challenge uses images from the Cassini craft orbiting Saturn to understand ring phenomena, ring structure, and potentially find new moons through an algorithm that [topcoder] is attempting to create.