Astro Pi, A Modified Raspberry Pi That’s Going to Space on December 15th
Raspberry Pi is one of the world’s most used single-board computer ever made. What makes it different from other mini-PCs is its flexibility; you can do pretty much anything with it, starting from using it for educational purposes to more complex stuff like robotics. Now, makers of the Raspberry Pi have modified the original product to go into space.
The team has developed two specially augmented Raspberry Pi computers, called Astro Pis, which are being launched to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake’s mission. The launch date of this six-month mission, called Principia, is December the 15th.
Last year, Raspberry Pi teamed up with the UK Space Agency, ESA and the UK Space Trade Association to run a competition that gave UK school students an opportunity to have their coded experiments run in space. Now, Peake is taking up two Astro Pi computers which will be running Python programs written by the competition winners.
David Honess, the Education Resource Engineer at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said in a blog post:
We have a range of new Astro Pi educational resources coming up. There will be opportunities to examine the results of the winning competition experiments, and a data analysis activity where you can obtain a CSV file full of time-stamped sensor readings direct from Tim.
Tim has also said that, during the flight, he wants to use some of his free time on Saturday afternoons to do educational outreach. While we can’t confirm anything at this stage we are hopeful that some kind of interactive Astro Pi activities will take place. There could yet be more opportunities to get your code running on the ISS!
As for the hardware, the purpose-built flight cases will each contain a Raspberry Pi, a Sense HAT, a real-time clock, and a camera module. The Sense HAT is an add-on board for the Pi, which packs an 8×8 full-color LED display; a mini joystick; a set of sensors for temperature, humidity, and pressure; an accelerometer; a gyroscope; and a magnetometer.