While reading about the recent Wallops launch for the question Does the Mars2020 lander need a new parachute design? and trying to confirm how to spell Wallops, I ran across the "free What’s Up at Wallops app provides updates on launches from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia" (from NASA) which seems to share at least a name with the website wallopsisland.org's page whats up at wallops.

Why would NASA devote the resources to develop this app? Is it just for general interest and for public outreach, or was one of the goals to help with things like the "fishing contest problem"?


Example tweet from NASA Wallops:

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  • $\begingroup$ You're assuming the 'What's up at Wallops' page was developed and/or paid for by NASA. It's more likely a product of Wallops Island's tourist board (but the website doesn't say either way at first glance). $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Mar 27 '18 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Hobbes check what the linked NASA article says about Nathan Riolo. As he worked on the app and is a full-timer at NASA, I assumed they'd shared in the effort. I think it's a great idea and worthwhile btw. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 27 '18 at 14:32

It was an professional intern project by Nathan Riolo (PIP program is a requirement for many entry-level scientists, engineers, and administrative professionals at NASA). So the app is an official NASA app.

According to this web page:

The man behind the app is Wallops’ very own Nathan Riolo, 23, a computer engineer who has worked at Wallops for three years. A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, the computer science major started his career at NASA as a student trainee and then started work full-time at NASA following graduation.

The What’s Up at Wallops app was Riolo’s Professional Intern Program, or PIP, project; the PIP program is a requirement for many entry-level scientists, engineers, and administrative professionals at NASA. Developing the app included gathering requirements from users, documenting the various development phases, peer reviews, and up to 10,000 lines of code.


“I have received incredible opportunity to grow as a computer engineer at NASA by working on this project,” said Riolo. “I am looking forward to taking the mobile application effort to the next level in the near future.”

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! If you can add to this anything about a reason why NASA felt that this app might be useful in some way, either for community outreach, or because it may help the public avoid exclusion zones during launches, that would be great. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 29 '18 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I sent some emails and FOIA requests out when I posted the question, it will probably be around 4 weeks before I get good info back $\endgroup$ – Mark Omo Mar 30 '18 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ My goodness, sounds thorough! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 30 '18 at 22:28
  • $\begingroup$ Any news on the FOIA? I'm going to accept anyway... $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 29 '19 at 10:04
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh no they said it was not an official NASA app and was not under there jurisdiction, I never followed up $\endgroup$ – Mark Omo Mar 29 '19 at 14:49

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