23.10.2018  10:00

NASA Space Apps Challenge at Politecnico di Milano

Programmers, scientists, engineers and designers come together for a challenge on the subjects of Earth and Space

20 - 21 October the Politecnico di Milano was one of the host centres of the NASA Space Apps Challenge, an international 48-hour hackathon held simultaneously in various cities across the world. Programmers, scientists, engineers, designers, creators and technicians met at the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology and worked as a team to tackle the challenges of Earth and Space sciences.

The objective is to present ideas and solutions to resolve challenges set by NASA. The results can be code, an app, a project, the result of brainstorming, a product or a design. The challenge, therefore, does not have to be resolved in three days; what is important is the idea and how it can be initially explained. All the results are made available in open access.

At the end of the two days, each team made a five-minute presentation which was used to evaluate the projects. The jury was made up of departmental directors from the Politecnico di Milano and experts from the business world who chose the winning teams who will take part in the global competition, competing on an international level with the winners of other hackathons. The winners of the final competition will be invited to visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

There were 175 participants and 41 projects presented. Politecnico di Milano students took all three podium positions. The winning teams were:

1st place: The Inflatables

Members: Marzia Zucchelli, Sebastiano Alberti, Andrea Gioia, Emanuele Bolognesi and Laura Pernigoni, all in the second year of the Laurea Magistrale (equivalent to Master of Science) in Space Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano.

Project: Inflatable Selfie Stick

To autonomously monitor damage to the structure of satellites caused by space debris and micrometeorites by taking selfies of the satellites with an inflatable arm with a camera on the end. To analyse the data, the structure of the visual cortex would be reproduced.

2nd place: Airhive

Members: Andrea Carpi, Laurea (equivalent to Bachelor of Science) in Biomedical Engineering; Davide Zanatta and Giulio Vaccari, Laurea (equivalent to Bachelor of Science) in Automation Engineering; all three from the Politecnico di Milano.

Project: WeatherBees

An economic and scalable IOT device. Like bees in a beehive, all the data is available to users via the app, and to developers via the API. As WeatherBees will be very small and economic, it will be able to cover any city with the highest resolution, producing a map in real time of the air quality outside the user’s window.

3rd place: Space Planners

Members: Yahya Shaker, Laurea Magistrale (equivalent to Master of Science) in Urban Planning and Land Management Policies; Mesrop Andriasyan, Doctoral research student in Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering; both from the Politecnico di Milano.

Project: S2S - Space to Shelter

To create a library of profiles of energy consumption for emergency shelters and therefore apply geospacial data to estimate energy consumption for all the camps.

The winning teams were awarded €1,300, €1,000 and €700 respectively from the United States Consulate General in Milan who sponsored the event and were represented by the Consul General Elizabeth Lee Martinez. The hackathon was organised in collaboration with Compass and sponsored by the City of Milan.