Artash (14 years) and Arushi (10 years). Toronto.

We are excited to become the global winners of the 2020 NASA SpaceApps COVID-19 Challenge from among 2,000 teams from 150 countries. The six Global Winners will be invited to visit a NASA Rocket Launch site to view a spacecraft launch along with the SpaceApps Organizing team once travel is deemed safe. They will also receive an invitation to present their projects to NASA, ESA, JAXA, CNES, and CSA personnel.

Winner15,000 participants joined together to submit over 1400 projects for the COVID-19 Global Challenge that was held on 30-31 May 2020. 40 teams made to the Global Finalists. Amongst them, 6 teams became the global winners!

The 2020 SpaceApps was an international collaboration between NASA, Canadian Space Agency, ESA, JAXA, CSA, and CNES focused on solving global challenges. During a period of 48 hours, participants from around the world were required to create virtual teams and solve any of the 12 challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic posted on the SpaceApps website.

Our 2020 NASA SpaceApps Global Winning Project: The Masked Scales

Wins: SpaceApps Global Winner 2020 

Project site:

Our “Masked Scales” project converts the impact of COVID19 observed in Toronto using data from our homemade instrument and NASA satellite into a Lockdown Musical.

We used Arduino, sensors, and cameras to measure changes in Street Noise, Vehicular Traffic, Emissions, and Light Intensity during COVID19 lockdown in Toronto. We used Machine Learning (to count the number of vehicles on the road) and Python coding to analyse changes happening during and after the COVID19 lockdown.

COVID19 Impact1
COVID19 Impact Data Captured by our 2020 NASA SpaceApps winning project “The Masked Scales”

We converted our Analysis into a musical using 4 musical instruments (each representing a change in different variable): Marimba (Light), Vibraphone (Emission), Piano (Street Noise), Flute (COVID19 Infection Cases in Toronto). The tempo of music was determined by changes in Toronto City Night Lights (using NASA VIIRS Data) and Vehicular traffic count before and after the lockdown.

A 30 seconds video of our project and the Musical generated from the data are available at

To learn more about how we built our instrument to obtain data and used a machine-learning algorithm to monitor traffic on the road, check our detailed blog post on the “Masked Scales” project:


From NASA Space Apps 2014 to Space Apps 2020: Our 7 Years Journey to Discovering the Universe

We have been participating in NASA Space Challenge for the last seven years since 2014. We were only 8 years and 5 years respectively when we participated in our very first SpaceApps 2014.

We have grown up learning more about space, tacking global challenges, making hardware and software projects, participating in meetings, networking with mentors and teams across the globe, giving presentations, and making friendships through the annual NASA Space Apps Challenges. This is one challenge we look forward to every year.

It has been a fun and exciting journey meeting so many people and astronauts and visiting several fascinating places on the way! We hope more kids, youths, and families are inspired by our space journey. Space is for all and is yours to discover!

NASA SpaceApps 2014: Curious Bot

Wins: SpaceApps Toronto People’s Choice Award 2014,  Global Top 5 People’s Choice Award 2014

Project site:

NASA SpaceApps 2014 was our very first hackathon ever. Since then we have participated in over 40 hackathons and all the SpaceApps challenges held thereafter.

CuriousBot - ready for presentation
2014: Our first SpaceApps Toronto with our winning project “Curious Bot”

In 2014 we had no idea what a hackathon was or even spell it. We had no idea what we had to do, why our efforts would matter and what could we do that NASA Scientists could not. We are glad that we did not think too hard and the lure of free pizzas and drinks were too hard to ignore. We signed up and ended up showing up to our first hackathon as a family team. Our space journey had started.

We did not need to worry as the organizing team of 2014 SpaceApps Toronto was very friendly. They made us feel welcomed and encouraged us to take any project that we would have fun building.

The NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover landing at Gale Craters on Mars in 2012 was still fresh in our minds. So we ended up creating an autonomous rover: Curious Bot which could navigate obstacles on its own and transmit weather data to the base station using radio waves.

We made it using Arduino and sensors that we had been working on. The hackathon was held at one of our favorite places: the Ontario Science Centre. We met the other teams, learned about the projects they were making and it was the start of many collaborations down the years. The mentors present at the hackathon taught us how to transmit and receive data using transceivers and Arduino.

Winning SpaceApps Toronto 2014 and emerging among Top 5 Globally among People’s Choice Award category. Picture with judges including Beth Beck.

On the final evening of the hackathon, we found ourselves on the stage talking about the project we made and giving a demonstration. That was fun. We even got to talk virtually to an astronaut and meet one of the most inspiring person from NASA: Beth Beck. She was the first person we ever met from NASA!

We were happy that we won the SpaceApps Toronto People’s Choice Award 2014 and our project ended up being a global finalist and was among the top 5 projects winning the Global People’s Choice Award 2014.

NASA SpaceApps 2015: We Go to the Moon

Project site:

Winning the 2014 SpaceApps Toronto was a big boost and we wanted to make an even bigger working model. We both were still learning Arduino and had graduated to building more complex projects. We signed up the same day we learned about SpaceApps 2015 to put our learnings to practice.

Getting ready to present our Saturn V Model at NASA SpaceApps Toronto 2015

So we built a model of Apollo 11/Saturn V using Arduinos, Sensors, Transreceivers, Motors, and NASA audio files. We made a 30 LEDs Sequence Panel, Launch Pad 39A, Countdown Clock, Saturn V Rocket, and Electric Bolts. Actions were automated to Countdown Clock (1) Retraction of Arms (2) Rocket going to Internal Power (3) Firing of Bolts (4) Rocket blasted using mechanical force (5) Rocket transmitting live telemetry data (Pitch, Roll, Yaw, Acceleration, Altitude) on display screen over wireless.

The project was heavy on hardware. And as with many hardware projects, they have more failure points. During the presentation, one of the hardware components: the Solenoid to release the bolts to fire the rocket failed.

But we had great fun in this hackathon. Our most memorable part was that we brought out the Saturn V model rocket we made for SpaceApps to another space event. It was attended by Late Commander Gene Cernan (Apollo 17 and the last person to walk on the moon) and by Commander Chris Hadfield. Both of them signed our model rocket!

Our Saturn V Model signed by the Last Moon Walker: Eugene Cernan (Apollo 17)

NASA SpaceApps 2016: Maze-solving Algorithm Rover (M.A.R.S)

Project site:

We had learned through books and videos that Mars does not have a magnetic field nor is there a constellation of satellites orbiting Mars to provide accurate location data. So how will Astronauts / Rovers on Mars navigate their way? So we took up this challenge.

Programming our Maze Solving Algorithm rover for NASA SpaceApps 2016

We built a Rover that takes a snapshot of its surrounding using a web camera and processes this image using edge detection and gradient mapping tools to convert it into a visual maze. The Rover then applies the maze-solving algorithm to find the best path forward. The coordinates of this path are sent to the driving mechanism of the Rover using Arduino and the Rover is able to drive forward avoiding obstacles.

Presenting our project at the NASA SpaceApps 2016

NASA SpaceApps 2017: Drop the Drought (Artash)

Canadian SpaceApps 2017: Yes I Can (Arushi)

Wins: SpaceApps Toronto 2017 and Global Nominee, Canadian SpaceApps Toronto 2017 and National Winner

Project site (Drop the Drought):

Project site (Yes I Can):

This was our fourth SpaceApps hackathon. We both were getting more competitive as each one of us had also been participating in other hackathons happening in Toronto. Sibling rivalries were also growing. So we decided to participate separately this time.

Artash Presenting Drop the Drought
Artash presenting “Drop the Drought” project at SpaceApps 2017 (his fourth SpaceApps) and winning SpaceApps Toronto and becoming Global Nominee

Artash participated in the NASA SpaceApps Challenge while Arushi participated in the Canadian segment of the Space Apps Challenge. This was a very memorable hackathon as Canadian Astronaut Jeremy Hansen himself was present at the NASA SpaceApps Toronto.

Artash’s project was “Drop the Drought” under Our Planet, Our Home challenge. He simulated the Land, Vegetation, and Human Settlement data from NASA satellites to predict droughts and migration. This would prevent droughts from turning to famines – saving lives globally and ensuring children stay in school and not become climate refugees.

The project went off very well as he used multiple software and simulation programs to draw out his analysis. He won the NASA SpaceApps 2017 and became a global nominee.

Arushi Presenting Drop the Drought
Arushi presenting her “Yes I Can” project at SpaceApps Toronto 2017 (her fourth SpaceApps) and winning Canadian SpaceApps Toronto and becoming the National Winner

Arushi’s project was “Yes I Can” and was submitted to the Canadian SpaceApps Challenge.  As Arushi was interested in arts and space exploration, she used visual data from the Canadian Satellite RadarSat-2 to create a digital mosaic of the Map of Canada, the Canadian Flag, and the logo of the Celebration of 150 years of Canada’s Confederation. Each piece of the mosaic is made using a section of the image of Canada gathered by the RadarSat-2. We are rebuilding Canadian symbols using images of Canada taken from Space from a Canadian Satellite!

28-presenting yes i can project
Arushi – national winner of the Canadian Space Apps 2017 presenting her project at the headquarters of the Canadian Space Agency

The project won the Canadian Space Apps Challenge Toronto 2017 and entered the National Round competing against teams from other Canadian cities. She emerged as the National Winner. Arushi and Artash were invited to a VIP visit of the Canadian Space Agency, meet the new Astronauts (Dr. Jennifer Sidey and Joshua Kutryk), and present their projects to the staff of the Canadian Space Agency.

NASA SpaceApps 2018: Deep Space Musical

Wins:  SpaceApps Toronto 2018 Winner and Global Nominee, SpaceApps Toronto 2018 People’s Choice Award Winner

Project site:

We enjoyed participating separately and each one of us winning our respective challenges. After the cool visit to the Canadian Space Agency and learning about how Astronauts have to work as a team, we decided to participate together once again.

Presenting the “Deep Space Musical” project at our fifth NASA Space Apps Toronto. We won SpaceApps Toronto, became the global nominee, and then became global finalists!

The Hubble Space Telescope was lately in the news as its gyroscopes have been failing (though they seem to have started working again!). Nevertheless, the contributions of the 28 years old Hubble Space Telescope (launched in 1990) in low Earth orbit to look at our universe have been immense. We wanted to create a tribute to the work of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Becoming Global Nominee SpaceApps Toronto 2018 and then moving on to become Global Finalists.

We created a Musical of our Universe (The Deep Space Musical)- from Birth of Stars, to Galaxies of Stars, to Death of Stars by converting 3 Iconic Hubble Telescope Images: the Pillars of Creation, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field and the Supernova 1987A into sound using Python Program.  It allowed the beauty of the Universe to be experienced by everyone, including those who are blind or visually impaired.

Winning People’s Choice Award SpaceApps Toronto 2018

We were happy to have won the SpaceApps Toronto 2018 and becoming the Global Nominee, as well as winning the SpaceApps Toronto People’s Choice Award 2018.

NASA SpaceApps 2019: Schools and NASA Aiding Climate Action by Kids (S.N.A.C.K)

Wins: SpaceApps Toronto 2019 Winner and Global Nominee

Project site:

In 2019, Arushi participated on her own for the SpaceApps Challenge as Artash was busy in another hackathon. She decided to take up the “Smash your SDGs” challenge.  It was for the first time Arushi participated in a hackathon on her own. This was the year she also participated in Global School Strikes Against Climate Change.

arushi presenting
Arushi participating in her sixth SpaceApps Toronto 2019 about her project on Climate Change

Motivated by global student movements on climate change, she participated in “Smash the SDGs” challenge of 2019 NASA SpaceApps for her project S.N.A.C.K. The project used satellite imagery to rank schools based on their tree densities and maps them. Students could add and share pictures of school trees to make their schools greener.

Arushi winning SpaceApps Toronto 2019 and becoming a Global Nominee

Some Favorite Moments from our 7 Years of SpaceApps Journey

21-Meeting the Director General of Space exploration
Meeting Gilles F. Leclerc – Director General, Space Exploration, Canadian Space Agency during Canadian Space Apps 2017
Meeting Canadian Astronaut Jeremy Hansen at NASA Space Apps 2017
with Astro Jenny
Meeting Canadian Astronaut Dr. Jennifer Sidey
30-with astro_jochua
Meeting Canadian Astronaut Joshua Kutryk
19-Checking out the CSA Rover
Visiting the Canadian Space Agency and driving the Lunar Rovers

Follow us on our project at

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