Astro Pi: Python on the International Space Station

The Astro Pi competition gives school kids the chance to do science in space with Python

Ben Nuttall

Data Education Linux OpenCV Raspberry PI

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A collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the European Space Agency put two Raspberry Pi computers augmented with sensor boards and camera modules on the International Space Station in 2015. Every year we run a series of competitions for kids in schools around Europe to design science experiments using the available sensors.

Mission Zero is a low-barrier challenge where students can run a 1 minute Python program in space to display a message to the astronauts. They have access to the sensors for conditional logic but cannot record data or take photos.

Mission Space Lab is a more involved challenge, including planning an experiment, writing and testing code which will run for 3 hours in space, either studying life in space or life on earth (which includes taking photos of Earth out of the ISS window). MSL teams get to keep the data and photo they record in their experiment and are to write a report analysing their findings.

A small tech team at the Raspberry Pi Foundation maintain the operating system used in flight and work in collaboration with ESA and partners to keep the operation of the Pis running smoothly on the ISS LAN.

As well as sharing details of the OS maintenance and devops for the Astro Pis, I'll share photos taken from space and show findings from student experiments using opencv, tensorflow, scikit-learn, ephem and more.

Type: Talk (30 mins); Python level: Beginner; Domain level: Beginner

Ben Nuttall

Raspberry Pi Foundation

Ben Nuttall is Raspberry Pi's Community Manager, working for the Raspberry Pi Foundation in Cambridge, UK. Ben is a developer and maker who loves all things open source, and he leads the GPIO Zero and piwheels projects.