Hackathon team uses origami in James Webb Space Telescope Pi project


One of the winning projects from NASA’s 10th Space Apps Hackathon is a Raspberry Pi-powered origami design inspired by how the James Webb Space Telescope unfolds.

The international event featured 28 challenges, with 28,286 registrants and 4,534 teams from 162 countries around the world.

The challenge was to create origami works of art that resemble the James Webb Space Telescope, to showcase Webb as a technological and design marvel using an “arts-meets-science” approach.

In a recent Space Apps hackathon blog post, NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen wrote: to create and apply this data to solutions to real-world problems.

“The continued rise in global participation in this challenge illustrates our commitment to creating accessible and equitable opportunities for all.”

Launched on December 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope is NASA’s next generation of space science observatories and was designed to fulfill the agency’s vision to “discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of mankind”. .

On the GitHub page for the winning project, Jimmy in a Box, the Boston team describes themselves as a “team of high school and college kids who love and are good at origami making.” The team said the Jimmy in a Box project was inspired by the way the James Webb Space Telescope uses origami-like folding and unfolding for launch and deployment.

Ben Slavin, Chief Information Officer of the NASA Space Apps Challenge on behalf of NASA Earth Science Division and Senior Vice President of Strategy and Design at Mindgrub, said: “The project has builds origami models to create aspects of the telescope using a controller via a Raspberry Pi that directs the cameras and tracking.

The team built three Origami models. The description on the Jimmy in a Box page indicates that computerized Origami models can function as Internet of Things devices. “We wrote Python apps,” the project team said. “Currently, our apps can take pictures with cameras periodically (every 30 seconds, for example) or when a push button is pressed. They keep track of the current location of the device (latitude, longitude and altitude) with GPS receivers. They also upload captured photos and location information to a cloud database called Kintone.

Sarah Hemmings, NASA’s Space Applications Manager on behalf of NASA’s Earth Science Division and Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, has been involved in running hackathons since 2017. She said the goal of the hackathon was foster the growth of the next generation. of scientists and engineers by encouraging people from all walks of life to take an interest in NASA’s freely available data.

“We ask challenge authors if they ever have a pet project and think outside the box,” she said. “It’s not just space enthusiasts. Take a piece of paper. That’s all you need.

While it’s difficult to measure how NASA Space Apps Challenge participants develop their enthusiasm for science and engineering, Toni Eberhart, NASA Space Apps Challenge communications manager on behalf of NASA Earth Science Division and partner at Booz Allen Hamilton said the challenges offer “a really special place” for participants to develop their work, connect with like-minded people, and work alongside NASA subject matter experts.

“I’ve seen high school kids tinkering with code get internships at local startups and companies,” she said.


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