Raspberry Pi: Pupils invited to run experiments on the International Space Station

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Two upgraded Raspberry Pi computers are set to be launched to the International Space Station, enabling young people to run scientific experiments in space and communicate with astronauts.

The European Astro Pi Challenge is being run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the European Space Agency and is aimed at primary and secondary students, no matter what their experience with computers.

The free Mission Zero online activity is curriculum aligned and aims to help students write a simple computer program and share a message with the astronauts orbiting 408km above the Earth.

The program students write will take a humidity reading on-board the International Space Station. It takes an hour and requires no specialist equipment or prior coding knowledge from student or teacher.

Organisers say that every eligible child that follows the step-by-step guidelines is guaranteed to have their program run in space with participants receiving a certificate.

Pupils will be able to share a personal message and create a digital animation that appears on the LED display for the station’s astronauts to read and enjoy.

The two new Raspberry Pi computers will replace older, less-advanced models – called Ed and Izzy – that were originally deployed as part of Tim Peake's Principia mission in 2015.

Young people can have a go and send their messages to the space station until March 18 this year. Parents can also register for their own children to take part in Mission Zero so they can do the activity at home. Participants must be working individually or in teams of up to four people.

Philip Colligan, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said: “I can’t think of many free science-education projects for young people that have their own space programme. The Astro Pi Challenge is a fun activity to support children to discover coding, explore digital creativity and take part in an ‘out of this world’ learning opportunity. We are putting the power of computing into children’s hands with one of the coolest educational opportunities out there.”

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity that supports schools to offer students the opportunity to study computing and computer science through providing curriculum, resources, and training for teachers.

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