Astro Pi 2018 challenge prepares the Raspberry Pi for space


Astro Pi 2018 challenge prepares the Raspberry Pi for space

Specifically, the European Astro Pi Challenge, to give it its full name, involves writing computer programs to run on the single board computer for experiments aboard the International Space Station. It is an ESA Education project run in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Astro Pi – Mission Space Lab

There are two separate, age-related strands: Mission Zero (14 and under) and Mission Space Lab (19 and under).

The organisers write:

Mission Space Lab offers students and young people the chance to have their scientific experiments run on the ISS. Your challenge is to design and program an experiment to be run on an Astro Pi computer. The best experiments will be deployed to the ISS, and your team will have the opportunity to analyse your results and put together a short report about your findings. The ten teams that write the best reports will be selected as the Astro Pi Mission Space Lab winners!

Entries are written in the online simulator Trinket and teams will receive certificates showing the orbit of the ISS at the time your program was run.

Astro Pi – Mission Zero

The Mission Zero timeline is as follows:

  • Challenge ends – 20 March 2019
  • Confirmation of flight status – May 2019
  • Certificates delivered to teams – May/June 2019

For older students…

Mission Zero offers students and young people the chance to have their computer programs run in space on the ISS! Teams write a simple program to display a message to the astronauts onboard. You don’t need special equipment or coding skills, and all participants that follow the guidelines are guaranteed to have their programs run in space. You will also receive a special certificate showing where exactly the ISS was when your program ran!

Python-based entries will run for three hours to be overseen by an astronaut. When the data comes back to earth teams will complete the experiment and write up their reports, with the best report determining the winner.

Astro Pi history

You can read more about the Missions, and the history of Astro Pi, online at

The challenge started in 2015 and previous winners have included a radiation detector using the Raspberry Pi camera module, code to display the flag of the nation the ISS was travelling over, and displaying a temperature reading for the ISS.

Image: ESA (European Space Agency) – Astronaut Tim Peake using a Raspberry Pi aboard the International Space Station.