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Programming Space Science

ESA Opens To Open Source Code Development 18

An anonymous reader writes "The European Space Agency just announced its SOCIS (Summer Of Code In Space) pilot project. The project is modeled after Google's Summer of Code (GSoC) initiative but is targeted to 'space related' open source software. Quite good stipends are given to student developing code during this summer."
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ESA Opens To Open Source Code Development

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  • Wow, Who would of thought the Entertainment Software Association [] Would support open source?
    • While I certainly don't think that they do, the idea might actually be less absurd than one imagines...

      A substantial slice of contemporary games are massive, hard-to-duplicate collections of art assets, sound, script(both the story kind and the in-game-logic kind) sitting on top of an engine licensed from one of the relatively modest number of companies that either specialize in such(eg. Gamebryo) or develop games and also license out their in house engines(ID, Unreal).

      With a touch of weaselly, but qu
      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        one can easily enough imagine a situation where commonly used chunks of game engine are OSS licenced [...] but the game-specific asset blobs remain proprietary and commercially sold

        Such as any game based on ioquake3 [], for example.

      • That's what Id did when open sourcing their old engines like Id Tech and Quake - the engines are GPL but the assets are still restricted.

      • Actually, there's one game developer which already does something similar: Disney open sourced the engine (Panda3D, which despite the name is a full game engine) they still use for Toontown and Pirates of the Caribbean Online, two children's MMOs.

  • That made me snicker.

    Be neat to see what comes of it. Do they have to write code that runs on a bloody RCA 1802? Perhaps the ESA does things differently and has moved on to something a little more modern. ;)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      SPARC V8, LEON3 core. PowerPC?

      ESTEC has funded a lot of open source already (that LEON3 implementation of the SPARC is open source, *with documentation*... none of that "read the source code and maybe some comments" stuff)

      But there *is* a problem with ITAR. Things that go into space are "defense articles", and information about "defense articles" tends to be considered a munition.

  • I got a better idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by renzhi ( 2216300 ) on Wednesday June 29, 2011 @01:03AM (#36607700)

    It's nice and all to provide stipends to students, have a mentor to tutor them and give them a chance to work on something cool.

    But if the space agency is serious about open source space-related software, and would like to tap into a vaster pool of programming talents, I have a better idea to propose. Why not make it accessible to all professional programmers? I sure there are lot of programmers, myself included, who would happily work on space-related open source software in their spare time, no stipend required, if they had access to the resources and have a chance to work on it.

    All space agencies have collected a ton of data, from different asteroids, from the space probes, from satellite, from the telescope, etc, etc. Put up a few clusters of servers, make them more accessible to programmers, and let them hack away. If you have specific needs, and don't have the bandwidth to work on, just put the description of the requirements, what you would like to achieve, etc, on the web, and let volunteers all over the world help out. Since you are willing to have mentors available to the students, these mentors can help to explain and clarify things online, from time to time, and help the programmers to get a better idea of what needs to be done.

    For each project, there will be more than one group working on it, and you can choose the one with the most potential, and probably back it up with some more resources later. And if the software needs to interact with any hardware, pick one with the most potential and invite the main developers and give them access to your cool hardware. That would be an honour for most programmers, and would happily accept to take up the challenge.

    Likewise for some quality control works. The space agency have their very strict, very controlled software quality process. Why not open it up and share it with the people outside too? You know, for the open source projects, maybe have someone internal leading the work, and have your test plans and test cases, processes, clearly spelled out, and tap into the professionals all over the world to help with too. Some people might not be a good-enough programmer to code, but they might be interested enough in space exploration that they would chip in their time to help with QA, at least.

    There are enough programmers idling away their time and spare brain cycle on /., and this can easily be tapped into. For me, I'm willing to help out in: 1) Set up a platform to manage the projects, to facilitate communication and collaboration between scientists and engineers in the agency and external programmers, engineers and scientists. 2) Work on any space-related software project, or contribute. 3) Willing to help with QA, and manage the QA process too.

    How about that, ESA, NASA, anyone?

    • The platform itself could be developed as an open source project and one instance deployed on ESA servers ... something like trac, but tailored at space data analysis / space projects in general ..... providing the usual OS community managment tools plus some direct access to datas collected in years by various missions or problems/priorities defined by the Agency hosting the instance.... lets do it !! P.S. It is a good idea (different, not better though) :)
  • I develop a free CAD program in my spare time. It would be nice to add (accurate) handling of satellite images. I am virtually the only developer, yet ESA does not seem to mind; it says an "organization" may be an individual and need not be a legal entity in order to apply as a mentor. And I know at least one Ph.D. student on the subject who would welcome a donation.
    Kudos to ESA.
  • With all the new data that is and will be freely available to everyone, we could use some SoC help on the open source toolboxes BEAM [], NEST [] and others.
    Please send in your ideas on what could be worked on for NEST here []
    NEST could definitely benefit from more GIS functionality with more integration with GeoTools or other Java GIS libraries.

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta