Mission Space Lab

Students will work like real scientists by designing their own experiment. Choose one of the following themes for your project:

  • Life in space
    You will make use of Astro Pi Vis (Ed) in the European Columbus module. You can use all of its sensors, but you cannot record images or videos.
  • Life on Earth
    You will make use of Astro Pi IR (Izzy), which will be aimed towards the Earth through a window. You can use all of its sensors as well as its infrared camera.

You can also submit your project for a Bronze CREST Award. Good luck with your mission!

Frequently Asked Questions

Mission Timeline

1. Design your experiment

Form a team of two to six people and find a teacher to support you. Brainstorm together, and come up with an experiment idea which fits with either the ‘Life in space’ or  the ‘Life on Earth’ theme. Then just click Submit idea, fill out your contact details, and describe the idea by filling in the fields provided on the form:


What is your experiment idea?
How will you use the Astro Pi to perform your experiment?


You have until 29 October to do this, and you’ll be notified of your acceptance by 7 November. To select teams that will progress to Phase 2, the following criteria will be used: scientific value, creativity, originality, feasibility, and conformity to the chosen theme. No code is necessary at this stage. To make sure your idea is feasible, we recommend that you do a bit of background research to find out the capabilities of the Astro Pi hardware.

Submit idea

2. Create your experiment

If your team is chosen for Phase 2, a free Astro Pi kit will be shipped to your school (unless your teacher already received one during the 2016-17 challenge). It contains all the components for building a replica of the flight computer — all you need in addition are a monitor, a USB keyboard, and a mouse. Use the computer to write the Python code which will carry out your experiment idea from Phase 1. Think carefully about the files your code creates: it is important for you to understand what exactly you will get back from space, since you will have to analyse your data. Thoroughly test your code, ensure it follows the coding rules, and do a full three-hour simulation of the experiment. When you’re sure everything is ready, just click Submit code, fill out your details, upload the code, and describe your experiment by filling in the fields provided on the form:


What are the main objectives of your mission?
Describe how you will achieve your mission objectives.
What do you think the results from the ISS will be?


You have until 7 February to do this, and you’ll be notified about whether you’ve been selected for spaceflight by 20 February.

Submit code

3. Run your experiment on the ISS

Your code will be judged by a panel of software industry experts and aerospace professionals from various nations. If your team is selected for spaceflight, your code will be uploaded to the International Space Station and run for three hours (two orbits) sometime between mid-April and early May. The files your code creates in space will be downloaded to ground and returned to you for analysis by 10 May.

4. Analyse your data

Analyse the files you get back from space, and write a final report to show your findings like a real space scientist. ESA will provide downloadable guidelines and a four-page template — you just have to complete all the sections. We encourage you to represent your findings visually using images and graphs whenever you can, in order to bridge European language barriers. When your report is ready, click Submit report, fill in your details, and upload the completed template.


You have until 11 June to do this. Only teams that submit their final report will receive the official Astro Pi Challenge certificate. The ten best reports will win special mentions and exclusive prizes.


Also gain a Bronze CREST Award



At this stage you can submit your project to gain a Bronze CREST Award. The CREST Awards scheme is open to students worldwide for project work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects. CREST Bronze Awards are well-regarded, and receiving one will be a tangible sign of recognition of your efforts. Ask your teacher to register for an account; they will be taken through a step-by-step process to assess your project using the CREST criteria. The cost of the award is £5 for UK students and £10 for students outside the UK.

Submit report

Read the Rules