2017 NASA Space Apps challenge
Waterloo, Ontario

The 2018 NASA Space Apps challenge is scheduled for October 19-21.


The NASA Space Apps Challenge is an intense 48-hour international hackathon hosted simultaneously in over 180 cities around the world. This is the second year the Waterloo hackathon was held at Communitech. This event is aimed at solving some of NASA’s most complex challenges. They enable participants to solve these challenges by making their enormous amounts of data open and available through the openNASA initiative.  2017 challenges included better measuring the Earth’s air quality, better understanding the impact of climate change, and even finding better ways to monitor the health of astronauts.



This year, there were 4 winners of the various categories for the Waterloo Space Apps Challenge. Going through to the NASA Global Space Apps Challenge are the Hackstreet Boys for their work on relating atmospheric carbon data from the OCO-2 satellite to ice sheet reduction in the Our Planet Our Home category, and gWave for their work on assessing the radiation exposure to polar commercial airline flights in the Mayday, Mayday, Mayday category.

After long deliberation the award to progress to the National CSA challenge for their work on decoding the Alouette-1 legacy imagery went to the JAM team.

In addition the Hackstreet Boys also picked up the coveted SkyWatch challenge award for their work with the SkyWatch API to access the atmospheric carbon data for their winning NASA Challenge App.

Finally, Four Shades of Brown won the People’s Choice award with their smart city application.



Using the SkyWatch API and OCO-2 Satellite data create an application to examine the variation and change in CO2 levels across North America for the last 2-3 years, based on geographic sub-units of your choosing, and tell your own story of human-atmospheric interactions.

The best team will receive $1,000 in SkyWatch credits to help deploy their application and Fitbit Alta watches to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Do you think you can win?



Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen came to Communitech on Saturday morning. Watch the recording.

2017 Judges

Jean-François Gauthier

Jean-Francois Gauthier is a mechanical engineer with over 14 years of experience in the commercial space industry in various capacities including design and test, project management and sales and marketing. He joined GHGSat in October 2016 to help commercialize the products and services from their breakthrough satellite.


Graham Stickler

Graham Stickler is an experienced senior satellite executive with successful track record of growing revenues in the software and satellite data industries and scaling through to IPO. Graham is currently SkyWatch's Chief Marketing Officer, leading the growing company's marketing, sales, and customer success teams, and working to help achieve SkyWatch's aggressive growth targets.


Joseph Bou Younes

Joseph is an accomplished digital product leader who spent 5 years in Silicon Valley. He has successfully led teams in startups and large companies through ideation, product development and go to market. Currently he is Data Executive in Residence at Canada's Open Data Exchange (ODX). ODX is a public-private partnership that creates innovation, jobs and growth with open data. Joseph also leads program development for the new Communitech Data Hub in Waterloo.


Dr Nadeem Gafhoor

Dr. Nadeem Ghafoor is the Vice President of Space Exploration at Canadensys Aerospace, leading a wide range of space projects  on game-changing technologies that enable smaller, faster and more affordable missions that can survive for longer durations in deep space and planetary environments. Dr. Ghafoor has worked with the majority of space companies and academic research institutes across Canada and is a firm advocate for cooperation and collaboration across the space sector.

2017 Challenges

Designed by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, challenges focused on real-world design challenges, including better measuring the Earth’s air quality, better understanding the impact of climate change, and even finding better ways to monitor the health of astronauts.


Additionally, the Canadian Space Agency offered three challenges of their own to Canadian participants.


Finally, this year, the participants had the opportunity to participate in the SkyWatch challenge to earn additional prizes and get a chance to design a world-changing application using SkyWatch's API.