Cosmic codes: NASA releasing information on more than 1,000 projects

Next Thursday NASA will release a master software list -- including information on robots and climate simulators

By Sarah Gray
Published April 4, 2014 5:34PM (EDT)

In an effort to make the government less opaque, the White House has directed federal agencies to share their software. According to Wired, the federal government is the "country’s largest creator of public domain code." Unsurprisingly, it is also very slow when it comes to sharing that code.

However, on Thursday, April 10, NASA will release an overwhelmingly large amount of information in the form of a public software catalog. It will contain over 1,000 NASA projects from climate simulators, to robotics.

"About a third of everything we invent ends up being software these days,” said Daniel Lockney, a technology transfer program executive with NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist. NASA has participated in a technology transfer program for over 50 years. Despite this technology transfer it hasn't released much of its cutting-edge code. The now very rudimentary code for the Apollo 11 mission was made public 40 years after its launch.

Not all of the code will be released for everybody -- some, like the code to build rockets, will need special access -- but what code you can get is royalty free. The software catalog's goal is to help and inspire computer programmers, and to give them building blocks to use and alter for their own projects. Soon NASA will publish a searchable database, and according to Wired it will eventually create a "a kind of GitHub for astronauts."

Technology developed by NASA for space has had many amazing terrestrial applications -- from enhancing wireless technology to aiding in breast cancer detection.

h/t Wired, NASA Spinoff

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Code Gadgets Innovation Nasa Space Technology