ALMA names winners of NASA SpaceApps Challenge

26 April, 2013

A fold-out greenhouse, a Lego robot controlled by a smart phone and a game that enables you to virtually build an industry on the Moon are some of the winning projects of the Space Apps Challenge that brought together 34 teams, making Chile the country with the most participants in this global competition organized by NASA. Forty-four countries worked simultaneously, along with teams from the International Space Station and Antarctica. Five Chilean engineers won the challenges presented by ALMA and will have a chance to visit the observatory.

The competition began at the San Joaquín campus of the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María on the morning of Saturday, April 21, with the participation of developers, engineers, physicists, designers and creative people from different cities. They worked for 30 hours without sleep, searching for solutions to the challenges presented in four categories. Finally, a jury of experts chose the best projects presented. Here are the winners in each category:

– Hardware: The Dragon bots team, made up of students from San Francisco del Alba school, based on a design for a remote operating system to control a Lego robot using a computer or smart phone.

– Software: The How I Shell team, which developed a game to virtually build a self-sustainable lunar industry.

– Data visualization: The MSP Chile team, which won the challenge of exploring the history of Earth Day using environmental data gathered since 1970.

– Citizen science: The RobotC team, which created a fold-out greenhouse to be implemented on a mission to the Moon or Mars.

The ALMA observatory contributed four new challenges related to its scientific operations. The winner of this category was the DFH team, a group of work colleagues and friends who analyzed the performance of ALMA’s operations using logging data generated during the execution of scientific observations. The group won a trip to visit the radio telescope installations located at an altitude of 5,000 meters in the Atacama Desert.

“We had never worked on anything related to ALMA or NASA or space, but we really wanted to solve the challenge,” said Alejandro Varas of the DFH team.

In addition, two groups were chosen to move on to the Space Apps Challenge international competition: Hacker Usach and DragonBots, who will present their projects to NASA experts.


Valeria Foncea 
Education and Public Outreach Officer,
Joint ALMA Observatory
Santiago, Chile
Tel: +56 2 2467 6258
Cell: +56 9 7587 1963