On Thursday, NASA released a catalog containing information about 1,000 of its applications whose code is available to the public free of charge. While the code has been available for some time, the catalog is NASA's attempt to make it easier to find out what software is available. It describes each application in plain language and provides contact information for those who want to get the code. The agency plans to set up an online repository in 2015.
NASA's Daniel Lockney explained that the software can be used in many different industries. "Our design software has been used to make everything from guitars to roller coasters to Cadillacs," he said. "Our CFD, or computational fluid dynamics code—it's kind of like having a desktop wind tunnel—[it's] been used on all manner of aircraft but also for cool terrestrial stuff like perfecting race cars by Aston Martin, NASCAR and Formula One, or designing better bike helmets by Giro. Our scheduling software that keeps the Hubble Space Telescope operations straight has been used for scheduling MRIs at busy hospitals and as control algorithms for online dating services. Algorithms we developed for tracking, interpreting and storing deep space imagery have been used for tracking and identification of endangered species ... and that same image interpretation and storage software is being used to build large databases of ultrasound arterial scans to help diagnose heart health and predict risk for heart attacks."