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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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  • 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?

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