NASA Pathfinder Innovation Challenge

At the PDC last year, you may have seen that NASA and Microsoft made a number of announcements.  New data APIs in Codename Dallas, a Silverlight+ASP.NET MVC 2 site on Azure…but did you realize they also launched a programming competition?


NASA has hundreds of thousands of images from their missions to Mars, and with the Pathfinder Innovation Challenge, they want to enlist your coding skills to help classify them. This is a unique opportunity where you can help NASA and win some great prizes by utilizing your existing .NET skills.


The Pathfinder Innovation Challenge consists of four different “leagues.” In the Global Cooperation League, you’ll build casual games, which will allow every day citizens to help classify images in a game environment (similar to the counting craters application that can be found online here:, and you’ll do so using Silverlight and NASA’s Azure-hosted APIs in codename Dallas. In the Intelligence League, you’ll use the power of the Azure cloud to attempt to solve the same problem by programmatically examining and classifying the images.


Full details for the competition can be found on their website at Details specific to the Global Cooperation League are available at and details for the Intelligence League can be found at Also, be sure to check out the intelligence league site for a series of “How Do I?” videos, which demonstrate how to sign up for and use the Codename Dallas API.


In addition to helping mankind and being able to brag that your code was helping NASA, PIC winners will also win amazing prizes, including NASA swag, ZuneHDs, and trips to see the launch of the next Mars Rover.

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