Small projects can be important for space exploration and taken serious by big names.
Google and ESA selected the participatory space group Constellation for their Summer of Code campaigns in 2013.
These campaigns support open-source projects by connecting students with organizations and financially supporting the students while coding.
If you’ve hung around shackspace for a bit you probably already know about Constellation and hgg. This summer Google and ESA decided to sponsor a few sub- and related projects in their respective Summer of Code program!
Constellation’s goal is to provide the creative environment for realization of different aerospace projects.
For instance one branch of the group offers a distributed super-computing platform for solving aerospace related numerical problems. The massive computing power is provided by volunteers donating their idle computing time at home by forming a virtual super-computer via the internet. For this citizen space science method we are using using the open-source software called BOINC (Berkeley Open Interface for Network Computing). Constellation is currently supported by 7000 volunteers providing 20000 host PCs to their computing grid.
With the Summer of Code campaigns Constellation wants to extend the involvement of students in aerospace research and provide computing power to their work.
For Google Summer of Code Constellation proposed diverse applications and at the time of writing this there’s already three students working on those projects.
The task at hand is to find the optimum interplanetary trajectory for one probe to visit all eight planets of our solar system including Pluto with a so called Solar System Grand Tour.
Also there’s work to be done to support flying observatories like SOFIA by NASA and DLR to maximize their observation times by optimizing flight routes with project Airborne Observatory.
And last but not least, there’s a somewhat different project with an aim to amaze children about all things space using an educational and fun Space Trumps card game for Android mobile devices, so that they just maybe choose a path in one of the STEM professions once they grow up.
But this is not all!
For ESA Summer of Code in Space Constellation is still looking for students who want to spend their summer with coding and getting paid for doing so.
There are new ideas for tracking satellites with distributed ground station networks for the hackerspace global grid program, creating a Peer-to-Peer based computing grid and even a real ESA project to data-mine in terabytes of science-data gathered by earth observation satellites.
If your are interested in space, citizen science and massive computing power, you find our ideas on the Constellation webpage. In case you don’t find any project that’s of interest to you on our page, you should check the other 22 mentoring organizations. Being able to support open-source projects is the power of citizen science, even on a small scale!