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Mission Space Lab

Mission Space Lab offers teams of young people the chance to have their scientific experiments run on board the International Space Station! Registration is open from 12 September to 28 October 2022.

  • Age 19 and under
  • Teams of 2–6
  • Supervised by a mentor

How to take part

Successful teams receive a free Astro Pi kit!

Mentors of teams who submit the best experiment ideas by 28 October 2022 will receive an Astro Pi kit to help their team(s) design and test their experiments on Earth, containing the following:

  • Raspberry Pi 4 computer with 4GB RAM
  • Raspberry Pi Sense HAT
  • Raspberry Pi HQ Camera
  • 6mm camera lens
  • 16GB microSD card
  • HDMI cable
  • Power supply (for EU/UK power sockets)

Teams may submit experiment ideas using these additional items, which will also be included in their kit if their experiment idea is selected:

  • A Coral machine learning accelerator for real-time experiments using machine learning on the ISS
  • A red optical filter for teams conducting experiments using near-infrared photography
  • A passive infrared (PIR) sensor and connecting components, most often used as a motion detector

Planning the experiment

This video shows you how all of the sensors work and will help teams to choose an experiment idea that will work in space.

See The Astro Pi Sensors webpage for more details.

This year there is a brand new project Design an experiment for Mission Space Lab which guides you through everything you need to know to create an idea for an experiment for Mission Space Lab.

Getting started

  • Design your experiment
    Organise your team, choose a theme, decide on an idea, design your experiment.
  • Experiment checklist
    Some key criteria to check before you submit your experiment.
  • Submitting your experiment
    Mentors submit their team’s experiment through their Mission Hub.
The European Union (EU) and European Space Agency (ESA) flags flying

Project timeline 2022/2023

  1. Phase 1: Design

    12 September – 28 October 2022

    Design and enter an experiment to be run on an Astro Pi computer on the International Space Station. Teams are notified if they have passed Phase 1 by mid-November 2022.

  2. Phase 2: Create

    Mid-November 2022 – 24 February 2023

    Teams that have passed Phase 1 receive an Astro Pi kit and write their programs. Mentors submit their team’s completed program. Astro Pi HQ tests each program submitted and assesses the viability of each experiment.

  3. Phase 3: Deploy

    April – May 2023

    Experiments that pass Phase 2 testing are awarded ‘flight status’ and are deployed on board the ISS.

  4. Phase 4: Analyse

    May – June 2023

    Teams receive their experimental data from the ISS for analysis and write their final reports. Mentors submit their team’s report. The best reports are selected as 22/23 Astro Pi Mission Space Lab winners!

Why participate in Mission Space Lab?

We asked some participants of Mission Space Lab how they feel about the challenge, and why it is important to them.

“Our team knew Python for quite some time, but Astro Pi allowed us to apply this knowledge to a meaningful project that involved finding a research project, taking measurements, data acquisition and management. The resources and learning paths there were extremely helpful. Snippets of code were also provided which made it possible to succeed without much programming knowledge.”
Team Astro Air, age 15

“Astro Pi helped me to be creative and think about ways to use the devices and resources on board of the ISS. It was really fun and I learned a lot about the ISS itself. The Astro Pi challenge motivated me to continue coding lessons in school and someday make computer sciences a part of my life.”
Alexandra, Team ISS Girls, age 16

“We had a great time working on Astro Pi. It strengthened our bonds of friendship as collaboration and teamwork is required to achieve this unique goal. We recommend Astro Pi to everybody who is interested in space to take part of this challenge. All difficulties you will encounter, will finally turn into benefits as you are going to learn how to overcome them. Don’t be afraid to be part of such an adventure - take your chance to become a space scientist”
Team LAZOS22

“I always thought I would follow a career path in programming, however, working with the Raspberry Pi computer and its sensors made me realise that I liked working with the hardware even more than doing programming…I ended up changing my choice of degree to mechatronics, so my Mission Space Lab experience really helped me to find the career path I was meant to be on.”
Ismail, Team Mechabot, age 17

You can also read about the experience of mentoring a Mission Space Lab team in this article, Astro Pi Mission Space Lab: The journey of two mentors.

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