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Winners of Perth’s NASA space race

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Charlie Gunningham
Space Apps teams
// // There were more teams from Perth than any other Australian city in this year's NASA Space Apps Challenge...

It’s the new frontier. It’s space. And suddenly, there are more space-related startups popping up in Perth. There’s even a Space Agency, with funding from the federal government.

Being a place well known for remote operations, thanks to the mining industry, Perth is a centre of remote ops excellence. You can’t get far more remove than space.

The annual NASA Space Apps Challenge took place recently, including in Perth. Competitors were encouraged to form teams, and using NASA data, try to solve some of today’s global challenges.

Winners of Perth's NASA space race

“It was a virtual event, as required by NASA, so we provided support via Zoom during the weekend,” said Conrad Pires, one of the organisers of the event.

“Teams interacted with us online for the opening, closing, check-in updates and mentoring. However, due to the COVID rules here, teams were able to locate themselves anywhere. UWA provided a workspace over the weekend for anyone who wanted a place to work from. Three teams took advantage of this.

It was a close race as they were all of a high quality, and Space Apps Perth had the most participants in Australia, with 29 people across 11 teams, with 7 teams submitting a project for judging by the end of the weekend.”

Conrad Pires

In terms of submissions, Sydney had 13 participants across 5 teams, though only 2 of those teams submitted projects by the end of the weekend. Melbourne had 11 participants across 4 teams, though only 3 teams submitted projects. Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide did not run Space Apps. So, Perth had the best engagement and completion in the country.

Winners of Perth's NASA space race
Space Apps teams ‘Landslide Detection Squad’, ‘Earth Observers’ and ‘UWA Venture’ listening to Tamyrn Barker on Zoom. Image supplied

The winners

1st – Landslide Detection Squad

They used satellite imagery and other NASA data to create a system to detect the early stages of a landslide by identifying movement in forest canopies.

2nd – Earth Observers

They used satellite imagery and other NASA data to model and predict areas and populations at risk of mental health decline.

3rd – Astro Hearts

Inspired by NASA Earth observation data related to natural disasters, they designed an application to facilitate the movement of critical resources between people in communities. Team leader Jeff Lui is a year 11 student at Sacred Heart College.

First-place winners, Landslide Detection Squad, now advance to the NASA global nominee round. Additionally, team Astro Hearts also won the School Award for Space Apps Perth 2021.

Congratulations to the winners and to all the teams that participated.

You can find out more about their projects here:


Startup News was media sponsor for the NASA Space Challenge 2021

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Charlie Gunningham

Former co-founder, GM, CEO Business News and Accelerating Commercialisation adviser. Charlie has spent 20+ years in Perth's startup scene, as founder, mentor, adviser, writer and investor. There's nothing he likes more than helping early stage tech startups ... and drinking coffee, shiraz or playing in a blues band. Email Charlie here.
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