NASA is challenging coders across the globe to come up with a useful new app during a two-day marathon coding session later this week. Tech giant IBM is also a partner in the event, and is making its new Blue Mix cloud development platform available for free to participants.

NASA, IBM Open Annual International Space Apps Challenge

The space agency offers a description of the event on its website. “The International Space Apps Challenge is a two-day hackathon where teams of technologists, scientists, designers, artists, educators, entrepreneurs, developers and students across the globe collaborate and engage with publicly available data to design innovative solutions for global challenges.”

More details on 2015 International Space Apps Challenge

The global code-a-thon will take place in the Big Apple from April 10 to 12, and participants will develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization tools and platforms that focus on real-world problems. Astronaut Cady Coleman and NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan will be on hand to work with and encourage participants.

Moreover, tech giant IBM is supporting the program by providing free access to its Bluemix cloud development platform. This will allow participants to draw on more than 100 cloud-based development tools, including IBM’s famed Watson Analytics.

Participants can work alone or as part of a team, and the goal is to create a working product by the end of the challenge. The products can be totally original or relate to one of NASA’s 35 challenges. These challenges are divided into four categories: Earth studies, space exploration, human health research and robotics.

One example challenge in the space exploration category was “3-2-1 Liftoff: Launch That Rocket!” in which designers are asked to “develop an experience that captures all the variables involved with making the launch decision.”

Apps in the first three years of the International Space Apps Challenge have dealt with a wide range of topics, including climate change and improving the International Space Station. Participants will have access to over 200 data sources to build their apps. Also of note, entrants can attend remotely or join one of the live coding events taking place in over 100 cities.