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Teen Finalists in NASA Competition Targeted by Hackers Based on Race

Teenagers in NASA challenge targeted by hackers for their race

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The concept received funding through NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts programme, which will provide $100,000 for feasibility studies.
The concept received funding through NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts programme, which will provide $100,000 for feasibility studies.. Pixabay
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NASA has confirmed that hackers tried to sway results of a challenge for teenagers that involved public voting via social media by targeting some participants on the basis of their race.

The challenge from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center encourages students to find “spinoff” technology in their everyday world, the USA Today reported on Thursday.

However, after learning hackers attempted to alter the final vote totals, NASA said on April 29 it had to shut down the voting portion of the “OPSPARC Challenge”, which hopes to ignite creative thinking in children.

“Unfortunately, it was brought to NASA’s attention … that some members of the public used social media, not to encourage students and support STEM, but to attack a particular student team based on their race and encouraged others to disrupt the contest and manipulate the vote, and the attempt to manipulate the vote occurred shortly after those posts,” NASA said in a statement.

Representational image for Hacking.
Representational image. Pixabay

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the hackers targeted a team of students from Washington, DC’s Banneker High School who created a product that could purify school systems’ water by checking for chemicals such as chlorine.

The Banneker team was among eight finalists to win the challenge.

Before the voting ended, members of the public were using social media to generate support for particular teams in the public voting.

Also Read: NASA Tests Mini-Nuclear Reactors for Moon and Mars

NASA supports this kind of community-based effort to encourage students to engage with science, technology, engineering and math and recognises social media as an important tool for that support.

The challenge team has an accurate record of the voting results prior to the attempted disruption, NASA said.

“In accordance with the judging criteria and voting procedures stated on the OPSPARC website, a panel of NASA Goddard judges will make a final determination of the winners using the published rubrics,” it added.

The results are slated to be announced this month.  (IANS)

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NASA Launches “Remote Sensing Toolkit To Help Users Search For Data

The "Remote Sensing Toolkit" provides a simple system that quickly identifies relevant sources based on user input, NASA said in a statement on Thursday.

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"Our mission to bring NASA technology down to Earth is expanding with the release of this remote sensing toolkit," Lockney said. Pixabay

NASA has launched an online toolkit to make it easier for users to find, analyse and utilise the most relevant satellite data for their research, business projects or conservation efforts.

The “Remote Sensing Toolkit” provides a simple system that quickly identifies relevant sources based on user input, NASA said in a statement on Thursday.

The toolkit is designed to help users search for data, as well as ready-to-use tools and code to build new tools.

“This new tool makes finding and using NASA satellite data easier than ever before, and we hope it sparks innovation among the entrepreneurial community and leads to further commercialisation of NASA technology and benefits people across the world,” said Daniel Lockney, NASA’s Technology Transfer programme executive.

“Our mission to bring NASA technology down to Earth is expanding with the release of this remote sensing toolkit,” Lockney said.

Through its constellation of Earth observation satellites, NASA collects petabytes of data each year.

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Through its constellation of Earth observation satellites, NASA collects petabytes of data each year. Pixabay

The variety of open source tools created to access, analyse and utilise the data from these satellites is familiar to millions of science users, but accessing and utilising this data remains daunting for many potential commercial users.

For example, NASA’s remote-sensing data and tools are spread out across dozens of sites.

The NASA Technology Transfer programme reviewed more than 50 websites and found that no source provided a comprehensive collection of information or a single access point to begin a search.

This prompted the US space agency to introduce the Remote Sensing Toolkit.

Also Read-NASA Funding Project RAMA To Turn Asteroids Into Spaceships

“Remote Sensing Toolkit will help grow the number of users who put NASA’s free and open data archive to work for people,” said Kevin Murphy of NASA’s Earth Science Division in Washington. (IANS)

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