The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has already affected thousands globally and is continuing to affect millions more, not only by posing health risks, but also by having an effect on the economy. Finding a cure or solution to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is needed as soon as possible and would require a collaboration between science and technology.
This is the main reason why the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), decided to launch the Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge.
The Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge is a 48-hour virtual hackathon where coders, entrepreneurs, scientists, and people from other concerned fields will collaborate to propose solutions to the pandemic and its accompanying challenges using Earth observation data. (Read: Pinoy-made app wins international award at the 2018 NASA Space Apps Challenge)
Teams who will participate in the hackathon will deal with COVID-19 challenges that range from studying the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and its spread to the impact the disease is having on the Earth system. (Read: UP graduate now set to become Philippines’ first gravitational physicist)
“There’s a tremendous need for our collective ingenuity right now,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “I can’t imagine a more worthy focus than COVID-19 on which to direct the energy and enthusiasm from around the world with the Space Apps Challenge that always generates such amazing solutions.”
ESA will provide data from its Sentinel missions (Sentinel-1, -2, and -5P) from its European Copernicus Programme, as well as data from some Third Party missions. The data from these missions focus more on the impact of the pandemic on climate change and the economy.
Meanwhile, JAXA will contribute data from ALOS-2, GOSAT, GOSAT-2, GCOM-C, GCOM-W, and GPM/DPR. “JAXA welcomes the opportunity to be part of the hackathon,” JAXA Vice President Terada Koji says. “I believe the trilateral cooperation among ESA, NASA and JAXA is important to demonstrate how Earth observation can support global efforts in combating this unprecedented challenge.”
The Space Apps COVID-19 Challenge will happen on May 30-31. You may check their website for more updates.
Since 2016, Filipinos have been participating in this annual hackathon. And just recently, one Filipino-made project, Project AEDES, won globally for the best use of data. Project AEDES and is a dengue mapping forecasting system developed by CirroLytix and made use of satellite and climate data. (LOOK: NASA’s fascinating images taken on the day of these local idols’ birthdays)