Right now, 400km above the Earth aboard the International Space Station, there are two very special pieces of hardware. Two Raspberry Pi computers are currently orbiting our planet, each equipped with a Sense HAT, a Camera Module, and a special aluminium flight case. These are the Astro Pi units, and children all over Europe have the chance to program them.
In 2015, in collaboration with the European Space Agency and the UK Space Agency, we ran a competition that allowed students from all over the UK to design experiments to run on the Astro Pi units. We sent their code into space with British ESA astronaut Tim Peake, who had a great time running all their programs. The data collected was then transmitted back down to Earth, so the winners of the competition – and everyone else – could analyse the results of their experiments as well.
Tim is safely back on Earth now, but French ESA Astronaut Thomas Pesquet has now arrived on the ISS, and he’s keen to see what students from all over Europe can do with the Astro Pi units. So ESA, together with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, have launched a brand-new Astro Pi Challenge, and this time it’s open to children from every ESA member country.
This is an amazing opportunity for students all over Europe. What better way to learn about computing, science, and space than actually being able to run your very own experiments on board the International Space Station? Imagine being able to say that you played a part in a real ESA mission, that programs you wrote were executed in orbit, and that results from your experiments were analysed by children all over the world!
This is “Astro Pi Mission” by Raspberry Pi Foundation on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.
To help you learn all about the Astro Pi units and gain the skills to use a Raspberry Pi equipped with a Sense HAT, we have a variety of resources that you can begin to work your way through. Just go to our Resources section and have a look through the Astro Pi and Sense HAT resources. Even if you don’t have a Sense HAT yourself, you can still learn how to use one with either the stand-alone desktop Sense HAT emulator or Trinket’s web-based emulator.