A weekend in space

Last weekend I decided to take part in the local event of the NASA International Space Apps Challenge. A hackathon around everything space.

Leading up to the event the organizers had put in tremendous effort to attract people and help them find team mates and a challenge to work on. So I was already familiar with the theme of things and had started thinking about what I could work on. Sadly I had two quite busy work weeks leading up to the event and didn’t find the time to prepare ahead of the main event.

On Friday I came in early to make up for that to some extent. There were already very interesting presentations that day, so that dindn’t completely work out for me, but then I learned a couple of new things about GitHub and got me some of their stickers for my hacking laptop. After the presentations I found some time to sit down and read up on the challenge I was taking on and contemplate my approach.

In the end I really started hacking only on Saturday morning on InstantSpot. I had decided to create a XMPP bot that would tell you where the ISS currently was flying over and when a next pass would be over your location. I was surprised how easy it was to just put building-blocks together. I had forked XMPP-bot and started using some web APIs that would return JSON data for ISS it all fell in place and I was amazed when someone suggested to look at OpenStreetMap for location Name to coordinate conversion, that I was just able to add the Nominatim API and it just worked!

Both Saturday and Sunday hacking was still interrupted by some very interesting presentations. On Saturday evening there was also a relaxing Party at Särkänniemi (sponsored by Rovio) where one could mingle and socialize with other people without the immediate hacking pressure. I met very interesting people and learned some new things!

Congratulations to the Meteorienteers for being one of the nominated teams for the next level!

Overall it was a very nice weekend and I had lots of fun, I had almost forgotten how much you can achieve when mixing open source, open data with a little of your own code!