Astro Pi – young people’s code at 400km above the earth !

Image Credit : Raspberry Pi Foundation {Artist : Sam Adler}

If you have taken a look at the recent document shared by the CNES concerning the Proxima mission of Thomas Pesquet, perhaps you’ll have noticed or read a few lines mentioning “Informatique : Astro Pi” [“Computing : Astro Pi” – pg 35]. Having among us a number of supporters of the tiny “Raspberry Pi” computer, we thought it would be interesting to give you a little information of what we already know about this project.

"Informatique : Astro Pi" Pg35 de la publication "proxima - Thomas Pesquet : un peu plus près des étoiles" du CNES & ESA
“Informatique : Astro Pi” Pg35 of the publication “proxima – Thomas Pesquet : un peu plus près des étoiles” from the CNES & ESA

When they created the educationally-motivated nano-computer, the Raspberry Pi, never could the founders have imagined that they’d sell more than 10 Million of them in 41⁄2 years! They would even less, in their wildest dreams, have forseen that 2 of the little machines would be sent to the International Space Station to give the chance to young coders to have their digital and scientific experiments sent into, and run in, space! And yet, this is exactly what has happened during the “Principia” mission of the British ESA astronaut, Tim Peake.

A flight case was specially designed as well as an add-on card (“Sense HAT”) with various sensors and components. The “Astro Pi” project was born! Shortly before the lift-off of “Major Tim”, 2 Raspberry Pis nicknamed “Ed” and “Izzy” were delivered to the ISS. The first has a camera module for visible light and the second including an “infra-red” camera module.

Competitions had been organised in primary and secondary schools throughout Great Britain and the successful winners saw their code being executed in orbit by the astronaut during his mission! The organisers received lots of very original project ideas during the competition : going from reflex tests to the detection of proximity of the “inhabitants” of the Station, right up to coded music creation or the visualisation of the flag of the country which the Station was currently over via a matrix of LEDS. The sky is the limit…well, not really anymore,..imagination is the only limit!

The big news, published on the Raspberry Pi Foundation and in the “MagPi” magazine, for us, in France, and in other European countries, we will likely be able to take part in similar initiatives in coming months (and even years) to come!

Watch this space…!

And while you’re waiting, you can check out details (in English) on the Astro Pi website as well as an article in French by François “Framboise 314” Mocq “Des Raspberry Pi dans la Station Spatiale Internationale

Le logo du projet Astro Pi
Tbe Astro Pi logo

Alan (@tyrower)