File Under: Programming

Help NASA Code Its Way Through Space

If you’d like to work on software projects that might one day send your code to Mars or on a deep space mission, NASA has some code for you to hack on. The Space Agency recently unveiled a new website, code.nasa.gov, to provide a home for NASA’s various open source software projects.

The new website isn’t the first open source effort from NASA, in fact the increasingly popular OpenStack cloud software stack grew out of a NASA project. If you go further back into history, the Beowulf cluster — forerunner of most of today’s Linux clusters — was also a NASA project.

Unfortunately for outside developers NASA’s past open source efforts have not been very well organized, nor has there been an easy way to contribute code to the various projects. The new code website is designed to change that. According to its homepage the site’s mission is to “surface existing projects, provide a forum for discussing projects and processes, and guide internal and external groups in open development, release, and contribution.”

For the initial release the focus seems to be primarily on the first item in the list, while the forums and discussion aspects are still listed as “coming soon.”

While the community aspects may still be in the works, NASA has already made it considerably easier for developers to contribute by hosting its code at GitHub. So far there are five projects on GitHub (licensed under NASA’s Open Source Agreement).

Not all of the projects involve space, but if you’d like to try your hand at some code that tweaks images from Mars rovers or creates 3D interactive worlds, head on over to Github and grab a copy of NASA’s code.