All posts by Fergus Kirkpatrick

Young people receive their data from space and Astro Pi certificates

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/young-people-receive-their-data-from-space-and-astro-pi-certificates/

Across Europe and beyond, teams of young people are receiving data from the International Space Station (ISS) this week. That’s because they participated in the annual European Astro Pi Challenge, the unique programme we deliver in collaboration with ESA Education to give kids the chance to write code that runs in space.

The Astro Pi computers inside the International Space Station.
The Astro Pi computers inside the International Space Station.

In this round of Astro Pi, over 26,400 young people took part across its two missions — Mission Space Lab and Mission Zero — and had their programs run on the Raspberry Pi computers on board the ISS.

Mission Space Lab teams find out the speed of the ISS

In Mission Space Lab, we asked young people to team up and write code to collect data on the ISS and calculate the speed at which the ISS is travelling. 236 teams wrote programs that passed all our tests and achieved flight status to run in space. And not only will the Mission Space Lab teams receive their participation certificates this week — they’ll also receive the data their programs captured on the ISS.

A picture of the Himalayas taken from space by the Astro Pi computers.
A picture of the Himalayas taken from space by the Astro Pi computers.

Many teams chose a feature extraction method to calculate the ISS’s speed, identifying two points on Earth from which to calculate the distance the ISS travelled over time. Using this method means using the high-quality camera on the Astro Pi computer to take some fantastic photos of Earth from the ISS’s World Observation Research Facility (WORF) window. Teams will receive these photos soon, which are unique views of Earth from space.

A picture of feature extraction between two images.
Feature extraction between two images

How fast does the ISS travel? 

The actual speed that the ISS is travelling in space while at normal altitude is 7.66km/s. Its altitude can affect the speed, so it can vary, but the ISS’s boosters fire up if it dips too low.

To help teams with writing programs that can adapt to some of these variances, and to show them the type data they can collect, we gave them a programming tool we call Astro Pi Replay. Using this tool, teams can simulate how their program would run on the Astro Pi computers up in space.

The International Space Station orbiting Earth.
The International Space Station orbiting Earth

This is the first time we asked Mission Space Lab teams to focus on a particular scientific question. So how did they do? The graph below shows some of the speeds that teams’ programs estimated. 

A graph showing the range of speeds calculated by Mission Space Lab teams.
The range of speeds calculated by Mission Space Lab teams

As you can see, a variety of speeds were estimated, but the average is fairly close to the ISS’s actual speed. Teams did a great job trying to solve the question and working like real space scientists. Once they receive their data this week, they can check how accurate their speed estimate was.

Mission Zero pixel art lights up astronauts’ daily tasks 

In Astro Pi Mission Zero, a coding activity suitable for beginners, 16,039 teams of young people created code to make pixel art inspired by nature. Nearly half (44%) of the 24,409 participants were girls! 15,942 of the Mission Zero teams had their code run on the ISS after we checked that it followed the rules.

Mission Zero Submissions

Every team whose program ran on the ISS — with their pixel art showing for the astronauts to see as they worked — will receive certificates with the time, date, and location coordinates of their Mission Zero run. 

We’ve been so impressed with this year’s pixel art creations that we’ve picked some as new examples for next year’s Mission Zero coding guide. That means young people will be able to choose one of a few pixel images to start with and recreate or remix them for their program. More info on that is coming soon, sign up to the Astro Pi newsletter to not miss it.

Let’s get ready for September

Thank you and congratulations to everyone who took part in the missions this year, and our special thanks to all the amazing educators who ran Astro Pi activities with young people.

The boot shape of Italy photographed from space by the Astro Pi computers.
The south of Italy photographed from space by the Astro Pi computers

For us, there is much to reflect on and celebrate from this year’s challenge. We’ve had the chance to run Mission Zero with young people in person and identify a few changes to help make the activity easier. As Mission Space Lab now involves simulating programs running on the ISS with our new Astro Pi Replay tool, we’ll be exploring how to improve this as well.

We hope to engage lots of previous and new participants in the Astro Pi Challenge when it starts up again in September. Sign up for the newsletter on astro-pi.org to be the first to hear about the new round.

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Young people’s Astro Pi code is sent to the International Space Station

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/young-peoples-astro-pi-code-is-sent-to-the-international-space-station/

Young people taking part in the European Astro Pi Challenge are about to have their computer programs sent to the International Space Station (ISS). Astro Pi is run annually in collaboration by us and ESA Education, and offers two ways to get involved: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

This year, over 25,000 young people from across Europe and eligible ESA Member States are getting their programs ‘uplinked’ to the Astro Pi computers aboard the ISS, where they will be running over the next few weeks. 

Mission Zero teams send their art into space

Mission Zero is an exciting activity for kids with little or no experience with coding. We invite young people to create a Python program that displays an 8×8 pixel image or animation. This program then gets sent to the ISS, and each pixel art piece is displayed for 30 seconds on the LED matrix display of the Astro Pi computers on the ISS.

Two Astro Pis on board the International Space Station.
Astro Pis on the ISS

We picked the theme ‘fauna and flora’ as the inspiration for young people’s pixel art, as it proved so popular last year, and we weren’t disappointed: this year, 24,378 young people submitted 16,039 Mission Zero creations!  

We’ve tested every program and are pleased to announce that 15,942 Mission Zero programs will be sent to run on the ISS from mid May. 

Once again, we have been amazed at the wonderful images and animations that young people have created. Seeing all the images that have been submitted is one of the most enjoyable and inspiring things to do as we work on the Astro Pi Challenge. Here is a little selection of some of our favourites submitted this year:

A selection of pixel art images and animation inspired by nature submitted by young people.
A selection of Mission Zero submissions

Varied approaches: How different teams calculate ISS speed

For Mission Space Lab, we invite more experienced young coders to take on a scientific challenge: to calculate the speed that the ISS orbits Earth. 

Teams are tasked with writing a program that uses the Astro Pis’ sensors and visible light camera to capture data for their calculations, and we have really enjoyed seeing the different approaches the teams have taken. 

The mark 2 Astro Pi units spin in microgravity on the International Space Station.

Some teams decided to calculate the distance between two points in photos of the Earth’s surface and combine this with how long it took for the ISS to pass over the points to find the speed. This particular method uses feature extraction and needs to account for ground sampling distance — how many square metres are represented in one pixel in an image of the ground taken from above — to get an accurate output.  

We’ve also seen teams use data from the gyroscope to calculate the speed using the angle readings and photos to get their outputs. Yet other teams have derived the speed using equations of motion and sampling from the accelerometer.

An example of features of the earth’s surface being matched across two different images.
Feature extraction example taken from images captured by the Astro Pis

All teams that took multiple samples from the Astro Pi sensors, or multiple images, had to decide how to output a final estimate for the speed of the ISS. Most teams opted to use the mean average. But a few teams chose to filter their samples to choose only the ‘best’ ones based on prior knowledge (Bayesian filtering), and some used a machine learning model and the Astro Pi’s machine learning dongle to select which images or data samples to use. Some teams even provided a certainty score along with their final estimate.

236 Mission Space Lab teams awarded flight status

However the team choses to approach the challenge, before their program can run on the ISS, we need to make sure of a few things. For a start, we check that they’ve followed the challenge rules and meet the ISS security requirements. Next, we check that the program can run without errors on the Astro Pis as the astronauts on board the ISS can’t stop what they’re doing to fix any problems. 

So, all programs submitted to us must pass a rigorous testing process before they can be sent into space. We run each program on several replica Astro Pis, then run all the programs sequentially, to ensure there’s no problems. If the program passes testing, it’s awarded ‘flight status’ and can be sent to run in space.

The Astro Pi computers inside the International Space Station.

This year, 236 teams have been awarded flight status. These teams represent 889 young people from 22 countries in Europe and ESA member states. The average age of these young people is 15, and 27% of them are girls. The UK has the most teams achieving flight status (61), followed by the Czech Republic (23) and Romania (22). You can see how this compares to last year and explore other breakdowns of participant data in the annual Astro Pi impact report.  

Our congratulations to all the Mission Space Lab teams who’ve been awarded flight status: it is a great achievement. All these teams will be invited to join a live online Q&A with an ESA astronaut in June. We can’t wait to see what questions you send us for the astronaut.

A pause to recharge the ISS batteries 

Normally, the Astro Pi programs run continuously from the end of April until the end of May. However, this year, there is an interesting event happening in the skies above us that means that programs will pause for a few days. The ISS will be moving its position on the ‘beta angle’ and pivoting its orientation to maximise the sunlight that it can capture with its solar panels. 

A picture of the International Space Station.
The International Space Station

The ISS normally takes 90 minutes to complete its orbit, 45 minutes of which is in sunlight, and 45 minutes in darkness. When it moves along the beta angle, it will be in continual sunlight, allowing it to capture lots of solar energy and recharge its batteries. While in its new orientation, the ISS is exposed to increased heat from the sun so the window shutters must be closed to help the astronauts stay cool. That means taking photos of the Earth’s surface won’t be possible for a few days.

What next?

Once all of the programs have run, we will send the Mission Space Lab teams the data collected during their experiments. All successful Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab teams and mentors will also receive personal certificates to recognise their mission completion.

Congratulations to all of this year’s Astro Pi Challenge participants, and especially to all successful teams.

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Get ready for Mission Space Lab with our new simulation tool

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/get-ready-for-mission-space-lab-with-our-new-simulation-tool/

Since November, registration is open for Mission Space Lab, part of the European Astro Pi Challenge 2023/24. The Astro Pi Challenge is an ESA Education project run in collaboration with us here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation that gives young people up to age 19 the amazing opportunity to write computer programs that run on board the International Space Station (ISS). It is free to take part and young people can participate in two missions: Mission Zero, designed for beginners, and Mission Space Lab, designed for more experienced coders.

Two young people working together on a tech project.

This year, Mission Space Lab has a brand-new format. As well as introducing a new activity for teams to work on, we have created new resources to support teams and mentors, and developed a special tool to help teams test their programs. 

A young person writes Python code.

A big motivator for these changes was to make the activity more accessible and enable more young people to have their code run in space. Listening to feedback from participants and mentors, we are creating the opportunity for even more teams to submit programs that run on the ISS this year, by offering a specific activity and providing more extensive support materials.

A scientific task

For this year’s mission, ESA astronauts have given teams a specific scientific task to solve: to calculate the speed that the ISS is travelling as it orbits the Earth. People working in science often investigate a specific phenomenon or try to solve a particular problem. They have to use their knowledge and skills and the available tools to find ways to answer their research question. For Mission Space Lab, teams will work just like this. They will look at what sensors are available on the Astro Pi computers on board the ISS, develop a solution, and then write a Python program to execute it. To test their program, they will use the new Astro Pi Replay software tool we’ve created, which simulates running their program on board the ISS.

The two Astro Pi computers.
The Astro Pi computers 

To help teams and mentors take part in Mission Space Lab, we are providing a variety of supporting materials:

  • Our mentor guide has everything mentors need to support their teams through Mission Space Lab, including guidance for structuring the mission and tips to help teams solve problems.
  • Our creator guide helps young people design and create their programs. It provides information and technical instructions to help young people develop their coding skills and create a program that can be run on the Astro Pis on board the ISS.
  • We have created an ISS speed project guide that shows an example of how the scientific task can be solved using photos captured by the Astro Pi’s camera.

We have also run virtual sessions to help mentors and teams familiarise themselves with the new Mission Space Lab activity, and to ask any technical questions they might have. You can watch the recordings of these sessions on YouTube: 

The Astro Pi Replay tool

Astro Pi Replay is a new simulation tool that we have developed to support Mission Space Lab teams to test their programs. The tool simulates running programs on the Astro Pi computers on board the ISS. It is a Python library available as a plug-in to install in the Thonny IDE where teams write their programs. Thanks to this tool, teams can develop and test their programs on any computer that supports Python, without the need for hardware like the Astro Pi units on board the ISS.

The Astro Pi Replay tool works by replaying a data set captured by a Mission Space Lab team in May 2023. The data set includes readings from the Astro Pi ‘s sensors, and images taken by its visible-light camera like the ones below. Whenever teams run their programs in Thonny with Astro Pi Replay, the tool replays some of this historical data. That means teams can use the historical data to test their programs and calculations.

A photo the Mediterranean sea with the coastline of Sicily and Tunisia
The Mediterranean sea with the coastlines of Sicily and Tunisia
A photo the Irish Sea with the coastlines of the UK and Ireland
The Irish Sea with the coastlines of Great Britain and Ireland
A photo the Coastline of Southern Egypt and the Red Sea
The coastline of southern Egypt and the Red Sea

One of the benefits of using this simulation tool is that it gives teams a taste of what they can expect if their program is run on the ISS. By replaying a sequence of data captured by the Astro Pis in space, teams using sensors will be able to see what kind of data can be collected, and teams using the camera will be able to see some incredible Earth observation images.

If you’re curious about how Astro Pi Replay works, you’ll be pleased to hear we are making it open source soon. That means you’ll be able to look at the source code and find out exactly what the library does and how.

Get involved

Community members have consistently reported how amazing it is for teams to receive unique Earth observation photos and sensor data from the Astro Pis, and how great the images and data are to inspire young people to participate in their computing classes, clubs, or events. Through the changes we’ve made to Mission Space Lab this year, we want to support as many young people as possible to have the opportunity to engage in space science and capture their own data from the ISS. 

If you want a taste of how fantastic Astro Pi is for learners, watch the story of St Joseph’s, a rural Irish school where participating in Astro Pi has inspired the whole community.

Submissions for Mission Space Lab 2023/24 are open until 19 February 2024, so there’s still time to take part! You can find full details and eligibility criteria at astro-pi.org/mission-space-lab.

If you have any questions about the European Astro Pi Challenge, please get in touch at [email protected].

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Explore space science and coding with Astro Pi Mission Space Lab

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/european-astro-pi-challenge-mission-space-lab-2023-24/

Today we’re calling all young people who are excited to explore coding and space science, and the mentors who want to support and inspire them on their journey. Astro Pi Mission Space Lab is officially open again, offering young people all over Europe the amazing chance to have their code for a science experiment run in space on the International Space Station (ISS).

Aurora Borealis as seen from the ISS.
Aurora Borealis as seen from the ISS

With this year’s Mission Space Lab, astronauts from the European Space Agency are setting young people a task: to write a computer program that runs on the ISS and calculates the speed at which the ISS is orbiting planet Earth. Participation in Mission Space Lab is completely free.

Here’s ESA astronaut candidate Rosemary Coogan to introduce this year’s mission:

The mission: Calculate the speed of the ISS

Mission Space Lab invites young people up to age 19 to work in teams of 2 to 6 and write a Python program for the Astro Pi computers on board the ISS to collect data and calculate the speed at which the ISS is travelling. 

Your role as a mentor is to support teams as they design and create their program — with our free guidance resources to help you and your young creators.

We want as many young people as possible to have the chance to take part in Mission Space Lab, so the way in which teams solve the task set by the ESA astronauts can be different depending on the experience of your team:

  • Beginner programmers can follow the guided project we provide (more info below) to write their program.
  • Teams with more programming experience can get creative to come up with their own innovative solution and calculate the speed of the ISS as accurately as possible.

The Astro Pis are two Raspberry Pi computers stationed on the ISS, each equipped with a High Quality Camera, a Sense HAT add-on board with a number of sensors, and a Coral machine learning accelerator. Each Astro Pi has a hard casing designed especially for space travel.

The Astro Pi computers inside the International Space Station.
The Astro Pi computers inside the International Space Station.

There are lots of ways to use sensor data from the Astro Pis to calculate the speed of the ISS, so young people can get creative solving their Mission Space Lab task while learning fascinating facts about physics and the inner workings of the ISS.

Two girls code together at a computer.

All Mission Space Lab participants whose programs run on the ISS will receive a certificate recognising their achievement, and they’ll get the chance to attend a Q&A webinar with an ESA astronaut. Teams also receive back data from the ISS based on their Mission Space Lab programs, for example photos or sensor measurements. That means you’ll have the option to explore and use that data in follow-on activities with your young people.

The coastline of Chile see from the ISS.
The coastline of Chile photographed by an Astro Pi on the ISS

Support for you to get started with Mission Space Lab

We are providing lots of supporting materials to help you and your team with Mission Space Lab:

  • A new Mission Space Lab mentor guide helps you assemble and support teams of young people who want to take part. It gives you as a mentor everything you need to answer your team’s questions and help them solve problems. It also includes tips on how to structure the Mission for your team. So young and your young people can make the most of Mission Space Lab, we suggest you run a series of sessions where your team can learn about the ISS, think about how they could use the different Astro Pi sensors, and design and create a program. The guide shows you how to help them use a design thinking approach during the Mission and develop problem solving and collaboration skills that are very important for careers in tech.
  • The Mission Space Lab creator guide helps young people design and create their Python programs. It contains all of the information they need to write a program that can be run on the Astro Pis. It includes discussion points for the team’s planning and design process. The technical instructions support young people to create a program that accomplishes its goal in the allocated runtime of 10 minutes.
  • We’re also providing a ISS speed project guide that shows one way for teams to complete the Mission Space Lab task: writing a program that calculates the ISS speed using photos taken by the Astro Pi’s camera. 

Mission Space Lab is open for submissions from today, 6 November 2023, until 19 February 2024.

Visit the Astro Pi website for full details and eligibility criteria: astro-pi.org/mission-space-lab

Sign up for Astro Pi news

The European Astro Pi Challenge is an ESA Education project run in collaboration with us here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation. 

You can keep up with all Astro Pi news by following the Astro Pi X account (formerly Twitter) or signing up to the newsletter at astro-pi.org.

The post Explore space science and coding with Astro Pi Mission Space Lab appeared first on Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Launch kids’ code into space with the European Astro Pi Challenge 2023/24

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/european-astro-pi-challenge-mission-zero-2023-24/

Throughout this year, space agencies have been embarking on new missions to explore our solar system, and young people can get involved too through the European Astro Pi Challenge 2023/24, which we’re launching today.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

Kids’ code in space with the Astro Pi Challenge

In the past few months India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission landed near the Moon’s south pole, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe flew by Venus on its way to the sun, and the SpaceX Crew-7 launched to the International Space Station (ISS), led by ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen. We’re especially excited about Andreas’ mission because he’s the astronaut who will help to run young people’s Astro Pi programs on board the ISS this year.

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen on board the ISS.
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will help run kids’ Astro Pi code on board the ISS. Can you spot an Astro Pi computer in the photo?

As you may know, the European Astro Pi Challenge gives young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific experiments in space by writing computer programs for the Astro Pis, special Raspberry Pi computers on board the ISS.

Two Astro Pis on board the International Space Station.
Two Astro Pis on board the International Space Station.

The Astro Pi Challenge is free and offers two missions for young people: Mission Zero is an inspiring activity for introducing kids to text-based programming with Python. Mission Space Lab gives teams of young people the chance to take on a more challenging programming task and stretch their coding and science skills.

A young person with her coding project at a laptop.

Participation in Astro Pi is open to young people up to age 19 in ESA Member States (see the Astro Pi website for eligibility details).

Astro Pi Mission Zero opens today

In Astro Pi Mission Zero, young people write a simple Python program to take a reading using a sensor on one of the ISS Astro Pi computers and display a personalised pixel art image for the astronauts on board the ISS. They can take part by themselves or as coding teams.

Logo of Mission Zero, part of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

The theme for Mission Zero 2023/24 is ‘fauna and flora’: young people are invited to program pixel art images or animations of animals, plants, or fungi to display on the Astro Pi computers’ LED pixel screen and remind the astronauts aboard the ISS of Earth’s natural wonders.

A collection of 8 by 8 pixel images of animals.
A selection of Mission Zero pixel art images of animals.

By following the guide we provide, kids can complete the Mission Zero coding activity in around one hour, for example during a school lesson or coding club session. No coding experience is needed to take part. Kids can write their code in any web browser on any computer connected to the internet, without special equipment or software.

A map of Earth.
Mission Zero participants get a certificate showing the exact time and place where their code was run in space.

All young people that meet the eligibility criteria and follow the official Mission Zero guidelines will have their program run in space for up to 30 seconds. They will receive a unique and personalised certificate to show their coding achievement. The certificate will display the exact start and end time of their program’s run, and where the ISS was above Earth in this time period.

Mission Zero 2023/24 opens today and is open until Monday 25 March 2024. It’s very easy to support young people to get involved — find out more on the Astro Pi website:

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab will open soon

In this year’s Astro Pi Mission Space Lab, ESA astronauts are inviting teams of young people to solve a scientific task by writing a Python program.

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo.

The Mission Space Lab task is to gather data with the Astro Pi computers to calculate the speed at which the ISS is travelling. This new format of the mission will allow many more young people to run their programs in space and get a taste of space science.

The Strait of Gibraltar photographed by an Astro Pi on board the ISS.
The Strait of Gibraltar photographed by an Astro Pi on board the ISS during a previous Mission Space Lab.

Mission Space Lab will open on 6 November. We will share more information about how young people and mentors can participate very soon.

Sign up for Astro Pi news

The European Astro Pi Challenge is an ESA Education project run in collaboration with us here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

You can keep up with all Astro Pi news by following the Astro Pi X account (formerly Twitter) or signing up to the newsletter at astro-pi.org.

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Young people’s amazing experiments in space: Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2022/23

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-mission-space-lab-2022-23-results/

Celebrate another year of young people’s computer programs in space with us: today we and our collaborators at the European Space Agency can finally announce the winning and highly commended teams in this year’s Astro Pi Mission Space Lab.

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo.

Mission Space Lab: Young people’s experiments in space

In Mission Space Lab, teams of young people work together to create computer programs for scientific experiments to be carried out on the International Space Station. The programs they design and create run on the two Astro Pi computers: space-adapted Raspberry Pis with cameras and a range of sensors. 

Two Astro Pis on board the International Space Station.
The two Astro Pi computers on board the ISS

Teams’ programs were deployed on the ISS during May and ran for up to 3 hours, collecting data for their experiments. Once we’d sent the teams their data, they started analysing it in order to write their Phase 4 reports. To identify patterns and phenomena they were interested in, many teams chose to compare their data with other sources.

The Astro Pi computers inside the International Space Station.
The Astro Pis in the WORF window of the ISS

We were especially excited to see the results from the experiments this year, particularly given that the upgraded Astro Pi units with their High Quality Cameras were positioned in a new observation window (WORF) on the ISS. This allowed teams to capture high-resolution images with a much wider field of view.

Photo taken by a Mission Space Lab experiment from the International Space Station of the Earth surface.
A volcano erupting in Guatemala, captured on the ISS by a team’s Mission Space Lab experiment

What have Mission Space Lab teams investigated this year?

We feel very privileged to see the culmination of the team’s experiments in their final reports. So let’s share a few highlights from this year’s experiments:

Team Aretusa from Sicily explored the effects of climate change by cross-referencing the images they captured with the Astro Pis with historical images from Google Earth. They used Near Infrared photography to capture images, and NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) image processing in their analysis. Below you can see that they have compared data of Saudi Arabia from 1987 to 2023, showing increasing levels of vegetation grown in attempts to restore degraded land.

Images taken from space of plant cover in Saudi Arabia.

Team Barrande from the Czech Republic trained AI models on images they gathered to identify topographical features of Earth. Their Mission Space Lab program used the Astro Pi computer’s machine learning dongle to train one AI model in real time. Later, the team also used the collected images to train another model back on Earth. Comparing the outputs of the two models, the team could tell how well the models had identified different topographical features. The below selection shows an image the team’s experiment captured on the left, the same image after processing by the AI model trained on the Astro Pi computer in the middle, and the image processed by the AI model trained on Earth.

Three images showing how two image classifier machine learning models perform in comparison.

Team DAHspace from Portugal measured the intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field along the orbit path of the ISS. Using the magnetometer on the Astro Pi, their experiment recorded data allowing the team to track changes of intensity. The team mapped this data to the ISS’s coordinates, showing the difference in the Earth’s magnetic field between the North Pole (points 1 and 2 on the chart below) and the South Pole (points 3 and 4).

Magnetic field data plotted against latitude.

And the winning teams are…

We and our collaborators at ESA Education have been busy reviewing all of the reports to assess the scientific merit, use of the Astro Pi hardware, experiment design, and data analysis. The ten winning teams come from schools and coding clubs in 11 countries. We are sending each team some cool space swag to recognise their achievement. 

Winning teams

Team Experiment theme Based at Country
Magnet47 Life on Earth O’Neill CVI Canada
Aretusa Life on Earth Liceo Da Vinci Floridia Italy
ASaether Life on Earth “Andrei Saguna” National College Romania
Barrande Life on Earth Gymnázium Joachima Barranda Beroun Czech Republic
Escapers Life in space Code Club  Canada
Futura Life in space Scuola Svizzera Milano Italy
StMarks Life on Earth St Mark’s Church of England School United Kingdom
DAHspace Life on Earth EB 2,3 D. Afonso Henriques Portugal
T5Clouds Life on Earth Dominican College Ireland
PiNuts Life in space TEKNISK GYMNASIUM, Skanderborg Denmark

You can click on a team name to read the team’s experiment report. 

Highly commended teams

Along with the winning teams, we would like to commend the following teams for their experiments:

Team Experiment theme Based at Country
Parsec Life on Earth Liceo Da Vinci Pascoli Gallarate Italy
Celeste Life on Earth International School of Florence Italy
LionTech Life on Earth Colegiul Național ”Mihai Eminescu” Romania
OHSpace Life in Space Oxford High School United Kingdom
Magneto Life on Earth The American School of The Hague Netherlands
GreenEye Life on Earth ROBOTONIO Greece
Primus Life on Earth Independent coding club Germany

You can click on a team name to read the team’s experiment report. 

All of the teams whose Mission Space Lab programs ran on the ISS will receive a certificate signed by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. The winning and highly commended teams will also be invited to a live video chat with an ESA astronaut in the autumn.

Congratulations to all 2022/23 participants

Huge congratulations to every team that participated in Astro Pi Mission Space Lab. We hope you found it fun and inspiring to take part. 

A big thank you to everyone who has been involved in the European Astro Pi Challenge this year. An amazing 24,850 young people from 29 countries had their programs run in space this year. We can’t wait to do it all again starting in September.

And it’s not just us saying thanks and well done — here’s a special message from ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer:

Looking forward to the next Astro Pi Challenge

On 18 September 2023, we’ll launch the European Astro Pi Challenge for 2023/24. Mission Zero will open in September, and we’ll announce exciting news about Mission Space Lab in September too.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

If you know a young person who might be interested in the Astro Pi Challenge, sign up for the newsletter on astro-pi.org and follow the Astro Pi Twitter account for all the latest announcements about how you can support them to take the unique opportunity to write code to run in space.

The post Young people’s amazing experiments in space: Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2022/23 appeared first on Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Young people designed 15,000 images for astronauts in Astro Pi Mission Zero 2022/23

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/15000-young-people-astro-pi-mission-zero-2022-23/

In the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS), there are two Astro Pi computers called Marie Curie and Nikola Tesla. These computers run the programs young people create as part of the annual European Astro Pi Challenge.

A young person takes part in Astro Pi Mission Zero.

For this year’s Astro Pi Mission Zero, young people sent us over 15,000 programs to show the ISS astronauts colourful images and animations of animals and plants on the Astro Pi displays and remind them of home.

Logo of Mission Zero, part of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

A space mission inspired by nature

Mission Zero is a free beginners’ coding activity. It gives young people the unique opportunity to follow our step-by-step guide to write a simple program in Python that can run in space on the ISS orbiting planet Earth.

The mark 2 Astro Pi units spin in microgravity on the International Space Station.
The Astro Pi computers on board the ISS

The Mission Zero activity this year was to write code to use the Astro Pi’s colour sensor to measure the lighting conditions in the Columbus module, and to then use that measurement to set a colour in an image or animation on the Astro Pi’s 8×8 LED display. We invited young people to design images of fauna and flora to give the astronauts on board the ISS a reminder of the beautiful creatures, plantlife, and landscapes found on planet Earth.

A selection of pixel images of animals and plants, which young people coded for Astro Pi Mission Zero.

The Mission Zero activity is ideal for learners trying text-based programming for the first time. It covers some key programming concepts, including variables, sequence, and iteration.

Tens of thousands of young people had their programs run in space

This year we received 15,551 Mission Zero programs, and after carefully checking them against the entry and safety criteria, we were able to run 15,475 programs. They were sent to us by 23,605 learners working in teams or independently, and 10,207 of this year’s participants were girls.

A young person with her coding project at a laptop.

This year the most Mission Zero programs came from young people in the UK, followed by Spain, France, Italy, and Greece. Lots of different organisations supported young people to take part, including publicly funded primary and secondary schools, as well as educator- and volunteer-led Code Clubs and CoderDojos we support. 

We’re celebrating the many different people involved in this year’s mission with a mosaic of the Mission Zero logo made up of lots of the inspiring designs participants sent us. You can explore an interactive version of the image too!

A mosaic of thousands of designs creating a large version of the Mission Zero logo.
A mosaic of Mission Zero designs

All of the participants whose programs ran on the ISS will be receiving a certificate to recognise their efforts, which will include the time and coordinates of the ISS when their program ran. Programs created by young people from across Europe ran on board the ISS in the final week of May. 

Sign up to the Astro Pi newsletter

If you enjoyed Astro Pi Mission Zero this year, we would be delighted to see you again in the next annual round. If you’re feeling inspired by the images young people have created, we invite you to get involved too. We provide guides and help for all adult mentors who want to support young people to take part, and the step-by-step guide for coding a Mission Zero program in 19 European languages.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

The activity of designing an image has been really popular, and we have been super impressed with the creativity of young people’s designs. That’s why we’ll be running Mission Zero in the same format again starting in September.

If you’d like to hear news of the Astro Pi Challenge, please sign up to the newsletter on astro-pi.org

We are always interested to hear your feedback about Mission Zero, as a mentor or participant. If you would like to share your thoughts with us, please email [email protected]

PS Look out for some cool news about the Astro Pi computers, which we’ll announce soon on this blog!

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24850 young people’s programs ran in space for Astro Pi 2022/23

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/young-peoples-computer-programs-space-iss-astro-pi-22-23/

Over 15,000 teams of young people from across Europe had their computer programs run on board the International Space Station (ISS) this month as part of this year’s European Astro Pi Challenge.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

Astro Pi is run in collaboration by us and ESA Education, and offers two ways to get involved: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab.

Mission Zero: Images of Earth’s fauna and flora in space 

Mission Zero is the Astro Pi beginners’ activity. To take part, young people spend an hour writing a short Python program for the Astro Pi computers on the International Space Station (ISS). This year we invited them to create an 8×8 pixel image or animation on the theme of fauna and flora, which their program showed on an Astro Pi LED matrix display for 30 seconds.

This year, 23,605 young people’s Mission Zero programs ran on the ISS. We need to check all the programs before we can send them to space and that means we got to see all the images and animations that the young people created. Their creativity was absolutely incredible! Here are some inspiring examples:

Pixel images from Mission Zero participants.

Mission Space Lab: Young people’s experiments on the ISS

Mission Space Lab runs over eight months and empowers teams of young people to design real science experiments on the ISS, executed by Python programs they write themselves. Teams choose between two themes: ‘Life in space’ and ‘Life on Earth’.

This year, the Mission Space Lab programs of 1245 young people in 294 teams from 21 countries passed our rigorous judging and testing process. These programs were awarded flight status and sent to the Astro Pis on board the ISS, where they captured data for the teams to analyse back down on Earth.

Mission Space Lab teams this year decided to design experiments such as analysing cloud formations to identify where storms commonly occur, looking at ocean colour as a measure of depth, and analysing freshwater systems and the surrounding areas they supply water to.

The Earth’s surface from the perspective of the International Space Station.
A selection of images taken by the Astro Pis of the Earth’s surface, including mountains, deserts, Aotearoa New Zealand south island, and lakes

Teams will be receiving their experiment data later this week, and will be analysing and interpreting it over the next few weeks. For example, the team analysing freshwater systems want to investigate how these systems may be affected by climate change. What their Mission Space Lab program has recorded while running on the Astro Pis is a unique data set that the team can compare against other scientific data.

The challenges of running programs in space

For the ‘Life on Earth’ category of Mission Space Lab experiments this year, the Astro Pis were positioned in a different place to previous years: in the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF). Therefore the Astro Pis could take photos with a wider view. Combined with the High Quality Camera of the upgraded Astro Pi computers we sent to the ISS in 2021, this means that the teams got amazing-quality photos of the Earth’s surface.

The Astro Pi computers inside the International Space Station.
The two Astro Pis positioned in an observation window on the ISS

Once the experiments for ‘Life on Earth’ were complete, the astronauts moved the Astro Pis back to the Columbus module and replaced their SD cards, ready for capturing the data for the ‘Life in Space’ experiments.

Running programs in an environment as unique as the ISS, where all hardware and software is put to the test, brings many complexities and challenges. Everything that happens on the ISS has to be scheduled well in advance, and astronauts have a strict itinerary to follow to keep the ISS running smoothly.

The earth’s surface from the perspective of the International Space Station, with a large robotic arm in view.
The Canadarm in view on the ISS, photographed by an Astro Pi computer

As usual, this year’s experiments met with their fair share of challenges. One initial challenge the Astro Pis had this year was that the Canadarm, a robotic arm on the outside of the ISS, was in operation during some of the ‘Life on Earth’ experiments. Although it’s fascinating to see part of the ISS in-shot, it also slightly obscured some of the photos.

Another challenge was that window shutters were scheduled to close during some of the experiments, which meant we had to switch around the schedule for Mission Space Lab programs to run so that all of the experiments aiming to capture photos could do so.

What’s next for Astro Pi?

Well done to all the young people who’ve taken part in the European Astro Pi Challenge this year.

  • If you’ve mentored young people in Mission Zero, then we will share their unique participation certificates with you very soon.
  • If you are taking part in Mission Space Lab, then we wish you the best of luck with your analysis and final reports. We are excited to read about your findings.

If you’d like to hear about upcoming Astro Pi Challenges, sign up to the newsletter at astro-pi.org.

The post 24850 young people’s programs ran in space for Astro Pi 2022/23 appeared first on Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Mission Space Lab 2022-23 – 294 teams achieved Flight Status

Post Syndicated from Fergus Kirkpatrick original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/294-teams-experiments-iss-astro-pi-mission-space-lab-2022-23/

In brief

We are excited to share that 294 teams of young people participating in this year’s Astro Pi Mission Space Lab achieved Flight Status: their programs will run on the Astro Pis installed on the International Space Station (ISS) in April.

Mission Space Lab is part of the European Astro Pi Challenge, an ESA Education project run in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It offers young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space, by writing computer programs that run on Raspberry Pi computers on board the International Space Station.

In depth

To take part in Mission Space Lab, young people form teams and choose between two themes for their experiments, investigating either ‘Life in space’ or ‘Life on Earth’. They send us their experiment ideas in Phase 1, and in Phase 2 they write Python programs to execute their experiments on the Astro Pis onboard the ISS. As we sent upgraded Astro Pis to space at the end of 2021, Mission Space Lab teams can now also choose to use a machine learning accelerator during their experiment time.

In total, 771 teams sent us ideas during Phase 1 in September 2022, so achieving Flight Status is a huge accomplishment for the successful teams. We are delighted that 391 teams submitted programs for their experiments. Teams who submitted had their programs checked for errors and their experiments tested, resulting in 294 teams being granted Flight Status. 134 of these teams included some aspects of machine learning in their experiments using the upgraded Astro Pis’ machine learning accelerator.

The 294 teams to whom we were able to award Flight Status this year represent 1245 young people. 34% of team members are female, and the average participant age is 15. The 294 successful teams hail from 21 countries; Italy has the most teams progressing to the next phase (48), closely followed by Spain (37), the UK (34), Greece (25), and the Czech Republic (25).

Life in space

Two Astro Pis on board the International Space Station.
Mark II Astro Pis on the ISS

Teams can use the Astro Pis to investigate life inside ESA’s Columbus module of the ISS, by writing a program to detect things with at least one of the Astro Pi’s sensors. This can include for example the colour and intensity of light in the module, or the temperature and humidity.

81 teams that created ‘Life in space’ experiments have achieved Flight Status this year. Examples of experiments from this year are investigating how the Earth’s magnetic field is felt on the ISS, what environmental conditions the astronauts experience compared to those on Earth directly beneath the ISS as it orbits, or whether the cabin might be suitable for other lifeforms, such as plants or bacteria.

Life on Earth

An Astro Pi in a window on board the International Space Station.
Astro Pi VIS in the window on the ISS

In the ‘Life on Earth’ theme, teams investigate features on the Earth’s surface using the cameras on the Astro Pis, which are positioned to view Earth from a window on the ISS.

This year the Astro Pis will be located in the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF), which is larger than the window the computers were positioned in in previous years. This means that teams running ‘Life on Earth’ experiments can capture better images. 206 teams that created experiments in the ‘Life on Earth’ theme have achieved Flight Status.

Thanks to the upgraded Astro Pi hardware, this is the second year that teams could decide whether to use visible-light or infrared (IR) photography. Teams running experiments using IR photography have chosen to examine topics such as plant health in different regions, the effects of deforestation, and desertification. Teams collecting visible light photography have chosen to design experiments analysing clouds in different regions, changes in ocean colour, the velocity of the ISS, and classification of biomes (e.g. desert, forest, grassland, wetland).

Testing, testing

Four photographs of the Earth and cloud formations, taken from the International Space Station by an Astro Pi.
Images taken by Astro Pi VIS on the ISS in Mission Space Lab 2021/22

Each of this year’s 391 submissions has been through a number of tests to ensure they follow the challenge rules, meet the ISS security requirements, and can run without errors on the Astro Pis. Once the experiments have started, we can’t rely on astronaut intervention to resolve any issues, so we have to make sure that all of the programs will run without any problems. 

This means that the start of the year is a very busy time for us. We run tests on Mission Space Lab teams’ programs on a number of exact replicas of the Astro Pis, including a final test to run every experiment that has passed all tests for the full three-hour experiment duration. The 294 experiments that received Flight Status will take over 5 weeks to run.

97 programs submitted by teams during Phase 2 of Mission Space Lab this year did not pass testing and so could not be awarded Flight Status. We wish we could run every experiment that is submitted, but there is only limited time available for the Astro Pis to be positioned in the ISS window. Therefore, we have to be extremely rigorous in our selection, and many of the 97 teams were not successful because of only small issues in their programs. We recognise how much work every Mission Space Lab team does, and all teams can be very proud of designing and creating an experiment.

Even if you weren’t successful this year, we hope you enjoyed participating and will take part again in next year’s challenge.

What next?

Once all of the experiments have run, we will send the teams the data collected during their experiments. Teams will then have time to analyse their data and write a short report to share their findings. Based on these reports, we will select winners of this year’s Mission Space Lab. The winning and highly commended teams will receive a special surprise.

Congratulations to all successful teams! We are really looking forward to seeing your results.

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