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NASA and IBM Are Hosting an Epic Global Hackathon This Weekend Big thinkers in more than 130 locations across the globe will work to develop solutions to problems that involve robots, humanity and Mars.

By Catherine Clifford

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shutterstock | Elements of this Image Furnished by NASA
The Surface of Mars

If we are ever going to live on Mars, we first have to figure out how to create oxygen on the red planet's surface. This weekend, entrepreneurs, designers, coders, inventors, storytellers and creatives from all over the world will come together in a 48-hour hackathon to offer solutions to this and other big-picture problems.

NASA and IBM are collaborating to host the International Space Apps Challenge. More than 10,000 people are expected to participate in more than 130 locations across the globe.

The hackathon starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 11, wherever you are in the world and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 12, local time. Teams work together on open-source problems.

Related: Elon Musk Wants to Colonize Mars in Order to Fend Off Human Extinction

The challenge topics fall into one of four main categories: earth, outer space, humans and robotics. The problems being tackled this weekend are quite intentionally orders of magnitude more grandiose than the sorts of daily annoyances that most of us mere mortals spend our time sorting through.

For example, one challenge NASA is asking hackers to think about is wearable fashion technology for astronauts to wear in space. One challenge wants a team to find the most exciting pictures of the universe. And another involves making a 3-D printer for food in space.

Related: NASA Takes a Step Toward Mars With Test Launch

Cliche as it may sound, the idea for the International Space Apps Challenge was born on a hotel napkin in San Francisco, and is a product of the belief that "innovation is often bottom-up, decentralized and unpredictable," according to the Challenge's website. It's the sort of naively utopian, kind of crazy, and totally fascinating daydreaming that just really might change the world we live in.

Listen to NASA astronaut Catherine "Cody" Coleman talk about the challenge in the video embedded below.

Related: Exploring the Deep Ocean With Underwater Robots

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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