From launching robots into space to discovering distant galaxies: how the public is hacking into open source space exploration. As technology shifts from a means of passive consumption to active creation, people are collaborating on a massive scale. Amateurs were once considered to be at the crux of scientific discovery, but over time have been put on the sidelines. Despite this, citizen science is witnessing a renaissance. Agencies such as NASA no longer have a monopoly on the global space program and more participatory projects are harnessing the power of open collaboration for exploring space on a faster schedule. Instead of complaining about where our jetpack is, we can now demand to figure out how to take an elevator to space. And, while you still can’t own a CubeSat as easily as an iPod, you can join a hackerspace and learn how to engineer one. We’re also able to discover new galaxies via our web browsers, as humans are able to make classifications that well-programmed machines can’t. If tinkering with spacecrafts is more your speed, Google Lunar X PRIZE is a competition to send robots to the Moon. But you don’t need to be a robotics engineer to participate – open source teams are open for anyone to join.
11th–15th March 2011