At PDC last fall, NASA and Microsoft made a number of announcements, including new data APIs in Codename Dallas and a Silverlight+ASP.NET MVC 2 site on the Windows Azure platform.  Did you know that we also launched a programming competition with NASA to help classify Mars images? 

Named after the first mission from Earth to send a rover to the surface of another planet, the goal of the Pathfinder Innovation Challenge is to find .NET developers who can help NASA classify the hundreds of thousands of images collected from the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Rover expeditions. This challenge provides developers with a unique opportunity to leverage their coding skills to help NASA, while also offering a chance to win some great prizes ranging from NASA swag and ZuneHDs to a trip to see the next Mars Rover launch.

The competition consists of four different Leagues; two, the Global Cooperation League and the Intelligence League are most relevant to .NET developers. The Global Cooperation League, uses Silverlight and NASA's Windows Azure-hosted APIs in Codename Dallas to build casual games designed to allow regular citizens to help classify images. Check out the counting craters application, Help Map Mars to see an example. The Intelligence League uses the power of the Windows Azure platform to create automated and efficient image-processing applications that can rapidly detect and label interesting objects within the Mars Expedition Rover images.

Full details about the competition can be found on the Pathfinder Innovation Challenge website. Be sure to check out the Learn How-Videos and Key Downloads page for additional information, official entry form and directions to acquire a token for accessing NASA APIs in Codename Dallas.