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NASA Open Source Projects for Science and Exploration

Mark Powell (Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA)
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Open access to science data has always been a cornerstone of NASA’s mission of exploration of Earth and the solar system. Lately however, motivated software developers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been open sourcing their software development in a number of interesting areas including but not limited to:

  • mobile apps for iOS and Android for keeping up to date with the latest images from the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers
  • enabling communication between fleets of robot scouts and explorers in bandwidth-challenged environments
  • using the Amazon and Google clouds to teach the next generation of volcanology and seismology researchers about the analysis tools that they need to use to effectively use synthetic aperture radar to study changes in the Earth’s surface
  • sharing scientific analysis software using Docker application containers and in so doing reducing barriers of access to replication of important science analyses
  • using the Amazon cloud to provide on-demand processing power and near-limitless data storage to analyze an ever-increasing volume of science data and to share the results with colleagues

Come and listen to some of the details of how these apps and systems are architected and deployed using open source development. There will also be stories and anecdotes about working on NASA projects and our journey into open source.

Mark Powell

Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA

Mark Powell is a Senior Computer Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA since 2001. Mark is the product lead for the Mars Science Laboratory mission science planning interface (MSLICE). At JPL his areas of focus are science data visualization and science planning for telerobotics. He received the 2004 NASA Software of the Year Award for his work on the Science Activity Planner science visualization and activity planning software used for MER operations. Mark is currently supporting a variety of projects at JPL including Opportunity and Curiosity rover operations and radar data processing for volcanology and seismology research.