Tag Archives: NASA

No Antenna Could Survive Europa’s Brutal, Radioactive Environment—Until Now

Post Syndicated from Nacer E. Chahat original https://spectrum.ieee.org/no-antenna-could-survive-europas-brutal-radioactive-environment-until-now

Europa, one of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, has twice as much liquid water as Earth’s oceans, if not more. An ocean estimated to be anywhere from 40 to 100 miles (60 to 150 kilometers) deep spans the entire moon, locked beneath an icy surface over a dozen kilometers thick. The only direct evidence for this ocean is the plumes of water that occasionally erupt through cracks in the ice, jetting as high as 200 km above the surface.

The endless, sunless, roiling ocean of Europa might sound astoundingly bleak. Yet it’s one of the most promising candidates for finding extraterrestrial life. Designing a robotic lander that can survive such harsh conditions will require rethinking all of its systems to some extent, including arguably its most important: communications. After all, even if the rest of the lander works flawlessly, if the radio or antenna breaks, the lander is lost forever.

Ultimately, when NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where I am a senior antenna engineer, began to seriously consider a Europa lander mission, we realized that the antenna was the limiting factor. The antenna needs to maintain a direct-to-Earth link across more than 550 million miles (900 million km) when Earth and Jupiter are at their point of greatest separation. The antenna must be radiation-hardened enough to survive an onslaught of ionizing particles from Jupiter, and it cannot be so heavy or so large that it would imperil the lander during takeoff and landing. One colleague, when we laid out the challenge in front of us, called it impossible. We built such an antenna anyway—and although it was designed for Europa, it is a revolutionary enough design that we’re already successfully implementing it in future missions for other destinations in the solar system.

Currently, the only planned mission to Europa is the Clipper orbiter, a NASA mission that will study the moon’s chemistry and geology and will likely launch in 2024. Clipper will also conduct reconnaissance for a potential later mission to put a lander on Europa. At this time, any such lander is conceptual. NASA has still funded a Europa lander concept, however, because there are crucial new technologies that we need to develop for any successful mission on the icy world. Europa is unlike anywhere else we’ve attempted to land before.

People standing in front of an antenna.
The antenna team, including the author (right), examine one of the antenna’s subarrays. Each golden square is a unit cell in the antenna.
JPL-Caltech/NASA

For context, so far the only lander to explore the outer solar system is the European Space Agency‘s Huygens lander. It successfully descended to Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005 after being carried by the Cassini orbiter. Much of our frame of reference for designing landers—and their antennas—comes from Mars landers.

Traditionally, landers (and rovers) designed for Mars missions rely on relay orbiters with high data rates to get scientific data back to Earth in a timely manner. These orbiters, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey, have large, parabolic antennas that use large amounts of power, on the order of 100 watts, to communicate with Earth. While the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers also have direct-to-Earth antennas, they are small, use less power (about 25 W), and are not very efficient. These antennas are mostly used for transmitting the rover’s status and other low-data updates. These existing direct-to-Earth antennas simply aren’t up to the task of communicating all the way from Europa.

Additionally, Europa, unlike Mars, has virtually no atmosphere, so landers can’t use parachutes or air resistance to slow down. Instead, the lander will depend entirely on rockets to brake and land safely. This necessity limits how big it can be—too heavy and it will require far too much fuel to both launch and land. A modestly sized 400-kilogram lander, for example, requires a rocket and fuel that combined weigh between 10 to 15 tonnes. The lander then needs to survive six or seven years of deep space travel before finally landing and operating within the intense radiation produced by Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field.

We also can’t assume a Europa lander would have an orbiter overhead to relay signals, because adding an orbiter could very easily make the mission too expensive. Even if Clipper is miraculously still functional by the time a lander arrives, we won’t assume that will be the case, as the lander would arrive well after Clipper’s official end-of-mission date.

JPL engineers pose with a mock-up of a Europa lander concept
JPL engineers, including the author (bottom row on left), pose with a mock-up of a Europa lander concept. The model includes several necessary technological developments, including the antenna on top and legs that can handle uneven terrain.
JPL-Caltech/NASA

I’ve mentioned previously that the antenna will need to transmit signals up to 900 million km. As a general rule, less efficient antennas need a larger surface area to transmit farther. But as the lander won’t have an orbiter overhead with a large relay antenna, and it won’t be big enough itself for a large antenna, it needs a small antenna with a transmission efficiency of 80 percent or higher—much more efficient than most space-bound antennas.

So, to reiterate the challenge: The antenna cannot be large, because then the lander will be too heavy. It cannot be inefficient for the same reason, because requiring more power would necessitate bulky power systems instead. And it needs to survive exposure to a brutal amount of radiation from Jupiter. This last point requires that the antenna must be mostly, if not entirely, made out of metal, because metals are more resistant to ionizing radiation.

The antenna we ultimately developed depends on a key innovation: The antenna is made up of circularly polarized, aluminum-only unit cells—more on this in a moment—that can each send and receive on X-band frequencies (specifically, 7.145 to 7.19 gigahertz for the uplink and 8.4 to 8.45 GHz for the downlink). The entire antenna is an array of these unit cells, 32 on a side or 1,024 in total. The antenna is 32.5 by 32.5 inches (82.5 by 82.5 centimeters), allowing it to fit on top of a modestly sized lander, and it can achieve a downlink rate to Earth of 33 kilobits per second at 80 percent efficiency.

Let’s take a closer look at the unit cells I mentioned, to better understand how this antenna does what it does. Circular polarization is commonly used for space communications. You might be more familiar with linear polarization, which is often used for terrestrial wireless signals; you can imagine such a signal propagating across a distance as a 2D sine wave that’s oriented, say, vertically or horizontally relative to the ground. Circular polarization instead propagates as a 3D helix. This helix pattern makes circular polarization useful for deep space communications because the helix’s larger “cross section” doesn’t require that the transmitter and receiver be as precisely aligned. As you can imagine, a superprecise alignment across almost 750 million km is all but impossible. Circular polarization has the added benefit of being less sensitive to Earth’s weather when it arrives. Rain, for example, causes linearly polarized signals to attenuate more quickly than circularly polarized ones.

This exploded view of an 8-by-8 subarray of the antenna
This exploded view of an 8-by-8 subarray of the antenna shows the unit cells (top layer) that work together to create steerable signal beams, and the three layers of the power divider sandwiched between the antenna’s casing.
JPL-Caltech/NASA

Each unit cell, as mentioned, is entirely made of aluminum. Earlier antenna arrays that similarly use smaller component cells include dielectric materials like ceramic or glass to act as insulators. Unfortunately, dielectric materials are also vulnerable to Jupiter’s ionizing radiation. The radiation builds up a charge on the materials over time, and precisely because they’re insulators there’s nowhere for that charge to go—until it’s ultimately released in a hardware-damaging electrostatic discharge. So we can’t use them.

As mentioned before, metals are more resilient to ionizing radiation. The problem is they’re not insulators, and so an antenna constructed entirely out of metal is ­­still at risk of an electrostatic discharge damaging its components. We worked around this problem by designing each unit cell to be fed at a single point. The “feed” is the connection between an antenna and the radio’s transmitter and receiver. Typically, circularly polarized antennas require two perpendicular feeds to control the signal generation. But with a bit of careful engineering and the use of a type of automated optimization called a genetic algorithm, we developed a precisely shaped single feed that could get the job done. Meanwhile, a comparatively large metal post acts as a ground to protect each feed from electrostatic discharges.

The unit cells are placed in small 8-by-8 subarrays, 16 subarrays in total. Each of these subarrays is fed with something we call a suspended air stripline, in which the transmission line is suspended between two ground planes, turning the gap in between into a dielectric insulator. We can then safely transmit power through the stripline while still protecting the line from electric discharges that would build up on a dielectric like ceramic or glass. Additionally, suspended air striplines are low loss, which is perfect for the highly efficient antenna design we wanted.

Put together, the new antenna design accomplishes three things: It’s highly efficient, it can handle a large amount of power, and it’s not very sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Removing traditional dielectric materials in favor of air striplines and an aluminum-only design gives us high efficiency. It’s also a phased array, which means it uses a cluster of smaller antennas to create steerable, tightly focused signals. The nature of such an array is that each individual cell needs to handle only a fraction of the total transmission power. So while each individual cell can handle only a few watts, each subarray can handle more than 100 watts. And finally, because the antenna is made of metal, it expands and contracts uniformly as the temperature changes. In fact, one of the reasons we picked aluminum is because the metal does not expand or contract much as temperatures change.

The power divider for an 8-by-8 subarray
The power divider for an 8-by-8 subarray splits the signal power into a fraction that each unit cell can tolerate without being damaged.
JPL-Caltech/NASA

When I originally proposed this antenna concept to the Europa lander project, I was met with skepticism. Space exploration is typically a very risk-averse endeavor, for good reason—the missions are expensive, and a single mistake can end one prematurely. For this reason, new technologies may be dismissed in favor of tried-and-true methods. But this situation was different because without a new antenna design, there would never be a Europa mission. The rest of my team and I were given the green light to prove the antenna could work.

Designing, fabricating, and testing the antenna took only 6 months. To put that in context, the typical development cycle for a new space technology is measured in years. The results were outstanding. Our antenna achieved the 80 percent efficiency threshold on both the send and receive frequency bands, despite being smaller and lighter than other antennas.

In order to prove how successful our antenna could be, we subjected it to a battery of extreme environmental tests, including a handful of tests specific to Europa’s atypical environment.

One test is what we call thermal cycling. For this test, we place the antenna in a room called a thermal chamber and adjust the temperature over a large range—as low as –170 ℃ and as high as 150 ℃. We put the antenna through multiple temperature cycles, measuring its transmitting capabilities before, during, and after each cycle. The antenna passed this test without any issues.

Photo of unit cells
Each unit cell is pure aluminum. Collectively, they create a steerable signal by canceling out one another’s signals in unwanted directions and reinforcing the signal in the desired direction.
JPL-Caltech/NASA

The antenna also needed to demonstrate, like any piece of hardware that goes into space, resilience against vibrations. Rockets—and everything they’re carrying into space—shake intensely during launch, which means we need to be sure that anything that goes up doesn’t come apart on the trip. For the vibration test, we loaded the entire antenna onto a vibrating table. We used accelerometers at different locations on the antenna to determine if it was holding up or breaking apart under the vibrations. Over the course of the test, we ramped up the vibrations to the point where they approximate a launch.

Thermal cycling and vibration tests are standard tests for the hardware on any spacecraft, but as I mentioned, Europa’s challenging environment required a few additional nonstandard tests. We typically do some tests in anechoic chambers for antennas. You may recognize anechoic chambers as those rooms with wedge-covered surfaces to absorb any signal reflections. An anechoic chamber makes it possible for us to determine the antenna’s signal propagation over extremely long distances by eliminating interference from local reflections. One way to think about it is that the anechoic chamber simulates a wide open space, so we can measure the signal’s propagation and extrapolate how it will look over a longer distance.

What made this particular anechoic chamber test interesting is that it was also conducted at ultralow temperatures. We couldn’t make the entire chamber that cold, so we instead placed the antenna in a sealed foam box. The foam is transparent to the antenna’s radio transmissions, so from the point of view of the actual test, it wasn’t there. But by connecting the foam box to a heat exchange plate filled with liquid nitrogen, we could lower the temperature inside it to –170 ℃. To our delight, we found that the antenna had robust long-range signal propagation even at that frigid temperature.

The last unusual test for this antenna was to bombard it with electrons in order to simulate Jupiter’s intense radiation. We used JPL’s Dynamitron electron accelerator to subject the antenna to the entire ionizing radiation dose the antenna would see during its lifetime in a shortened time frame. In other words, in the span of two days in the accelerator, the antenna was exposed to the same amount of radiation as it would be during the six- or seven-year trip to Europa, plus up to 40 days on the surface. Like the anechoic chamber testing, we also conducted this test at cryogenic temperatures that were as close to those of Europa’s surface conditions as possible.

Photo of antenna in an anechoic chamber with the antenna in a white foam box.
The antenna had to pass signal tests at cryogenic temperatures (–170 °C) to confirm that it would work as expected on Europa’s frigid surface. Because it wasn’t possible to bring the temperature of the entire anechoic chamber to cryogenic levels, the antenna was sealed in a white foam box.
JPL-Caltech/NASA

The reason for the electron bombardment test was our concern that Jupiter’s ionizing radiation would cause a dangerous electrostatic discharge at the antenna’s port, where it connects to the rest of the lander’s communications hardware. Theoretically, the danger of such a discharge grows as the antenna spends more time exposed to ionizing radiation. If a discharge happens, it could damage not just the antenna but also hardware deeper in the communications system and possibly elsewhere in the lander. Thankfully, we didn’t measure any discharges during our test, which confirms that the antenna can survive both the trip to and work on Europa.

We designed and tested this antenna for Europa, but we believe it can be used for missions elsewhere in the solar system. We’re already tweaking the design for the joint JPL/ESA Mars Sample Return mission that—as the name implies—will bring Martian rocks, soil, and atmospheric samples back to Earth. The mission is currently slated to launch in 2026. We see no reason why our antenna design couldn’t be used on every future Mars lander or rover as a more robust alternative—one that could also increase data rates 4 to 16 times those of current antenna designs. We also could use it on future moon missions to provide high data rates.

Although there isn’t an approved Europa lander mission yet, we at JPL will be ready if and when it happens. Other engineers have pursued different projects that are also necessary for such a mission. For example, some have developed a new, multilegged landing system to touch down safely on uncertain or unstable surfaces. Others have created a “belly pan” that will protect vulnerable hardware from Europa’s cold. Still others have worked on an intelligent landing system, radiation-tolerant batteries, and more. But the antenna remains perhaps the most vital system, because without it there will be no way for the lander to communicate how well any of these other systems are working. Without a working antenna, the lander will never be able to tell us whether we could have living neighbors on Europa.

This article appears in the August 2021 print issue as “An Antenna Made for an Icy, Radioactive Hell.”

During the editorial process some errors were introduced to this article and have been corrected on 27 July 2021. We originally misstated the amount of power used by Mars orbiters and the Europa antenna design, as well as the number of unit cells in each subarray. We also incorrectly suggested that the Europa antenna design would not require a gimbal or need to reorient itself in order to stay in contact with Earth.

‘Epigone drone’ pays homage to NASA’s Mars Helicopter | The MagPi #107

Post Syndicated from Rosie Hattersley original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/epigone-drone-pays-homage-to-nasas-mars-helicopter-the-magpi-107/

Inspired by NASA’s attempt to launch a helicopter on Mars, one maker made an Earth-bound one of her own. And she tells Rosie Hattersley all about it in the latest issue of The MagPi Magazine, out now.

Epigone drone hero
To avoid being swiped by the drone’s rotors, the Raspberry Pi 4, which uses NASA’s especially written F Prime code for telemetry, had to be positioned very carefully

Like millions of us, in April Avra Saslow watched with bated breath as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on the surface of Mars. 

Like most of us, Avra knew all about the other ground-breaking feat being trialled alongside Perseverance: a helicopter launch called Ingenuity, that was to be the first flight on another planet – “a fairly lofty goal”, says Avra, since “the atmosphere on Mars is 60 times less dense than Earth’s.” 

With experience of Raspberry Pi-based creations, Avra was keen to emulate Ingenuity back here on earth.

Project maker holding their creation
Avra’s videographer colleague lent her the drone that enables Epigone to achieve lift-off

NASA chose to use open-source products and use commercially available parts for its helicopter build. It just so happened that Avra had recently begun working at SparkFun, a Colorado-based reseller that sells the very same Garmin LIDAR-Lite v3 laser altimeter that NASA’s helicopter is based on. “It’s a compact optical distance measurement sensor that gives the helicopter ‘eyes’ to see how far it hovers above ground,” Avra explains.

NASA posted the Ingenuity helicopter’s open-source autonomous space-flight software, written specifically for use with Raspberry Pi, on GitHub. Avra took all this as a sign she “just had to experiment with the same technology they sent to Mars.”

F Prime and shine

Her plan was to see whether she could get GPS and lidar working within NASA’s framework, “and then take the sensors up on a drone and see how it all performed in the air.” Helpfully, NASA’s GitHub post included a detailed F Prime tutorial based around Raspberry Pi. Avra says understanding and using F Prime (F´) was the hardest part of her Epigone drone project. “It’s a beast to take on from an electronics enthusiast standpoint,” she says. Even so, she emphatically encourages others to explore and the opportunity  to make use of NASA’s code.

epigone drone front view
NASA recognises that Raspberry Pi offers a way to “dip your toe in embedded systems,” says Avra, and “encourages the idea that Linux can run on two planets in the solar system”

Raspberry Pi 4 brain

The Epigone Drone is built around Raspberry Pi 4 Model B; Garmin’s LIDAR-Lite v4, which connects to a Qwiic breakout board and has a laser rather than an LED; a battery pack; and a DJI Mini 2 drone borrowed from a videographer colleague. Having seen how small the drone was, Avra realised 3D-printing an enclosure case would make everything far too heavy. As it was, positioning the Epigone onto its host drone was challenging enough: the drone’s rotors passed worryingly close to the project’s Raspberry Pi, even when precisely positioned in the centre of the drone’s back. The drone has its own sensors to allow for controlled navigation, which meant Avra’s design had to diverge from NASA’s and have its lidar ‘eyes’ on its side rather than underneath.

Although her version piggybacks on an existing drone, Avra was amazed when her Epigone creation took flight:

“I honestly thought [it] would be too heavy to achieve lift, but what do ya know, it flew! It went up maybe 30 ft and we were able to check the sensors by moving it close and far from the SparkFun HQ [where she works].”

While the drone’s battery depleted in “a matter of minutes” due to its additional load, the Epigone worked well and could be deployed to map small areas of land such as elevation changes in a garden, Avra suggests.

The MagPi #107 out NOW!

MagPi 107 cover

You can grab the brand-new issue right now from the Raspberry Pi Press store, or via our app on Android or iOS. You can also pick it up from supermarkets and newsagents. There’s also a free PDF you can download.

The post ‘Epigone drone’ pays homage to NASA’s Mars Helicopter | The MagPi #107 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Meet team behind the mini Raspberry Pi–powered ISS

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/meet-team-behind-the-mini-raspberry-pi-powered-iss/

Quite possibly the coolest thing we saw Raspberry Pi powering this year was ISS Mimic, a mini version of the International Space Station (ISS). We wanted to learn more about the brains that dreamt up ISS Mimic, which uses data from the ISS to mirror exactly what the real thing is doing in orbit.

The ISS Mimic team’s a diverse, fun-looking bunch of people and they all made their way to NASA via different paths. Maybe you could see yourself there in the future too?

Dallas Kidd

Dallas in a green t shirt stood next to Estefannie in a black t shirt on a blue background. Estefannie is wearing safety googles
Dallas (in the green t shirt) having a lark with teammate Estefannie. Safety first!

Dallas Kidd currently works at the startup Skylark Wireless, helping to advance the technology to provide affordable high speed internet to rural areas.

Previously, she worked on traffic controllers and sensors, in finance on a live trading platform, on RAID controllers for enterprise storage, and at a startup tackling the problem of alarm fatigue in hospitals.

Before getting her Master’s in computer science with a thesis on automatically classifying stars, she taught English as a second language, Algebra I, geometry, special education, reading, and more.

Her hobbies are scuba diving, learning about astronomy, creative writing, art, and gaming.

Tristan Moody

Tristan Moody holding his kid Team ISS NASA
That’s Tristan on the right. NASA does not currently hire small children.

Tristan Moody currently works as a spacecraft survivability engineer at Boeing, helping to keep the ISS and other satellites safe from the threat posed by meteoroids and orbital debris.

He has a PhD in mechanical engineering and currently spends much of his free time as playground equipment for his two young kids.

Estefannie

Estefannie dressed up as Rey from Star Wars for the 2021 princesses with powertools calendar
Estefannie as Rey from Star Wars for the 2021 Princesses with Powertools calendar

Estefannie is a software engineer, designer, punk rocker and likes to overly engineer things and document her findings on her YouTube and Instagram channels as Estefannie Explains It All.

Estefannie spends her time inventing things before thinking, soldering for fun, writing, filming and producing content for her YouTube channel, and public speaking at universities, conferences, and hackathons.

She lives in Houston, Texas and likes tacos.

Douglas Kimble

A member of team ISS Mimic giving a thumbs up while working on the ISS Mimic
Where are the dogs, Douglas?!

Douglas Kimble currently works as an electrical/mechanical design engineer at Boeing. He has designed countless wire harness and installation drawings for the ISS.

He assumes the mentor role and interacts well with diverse personalities. He is also the world’s biggest Lakers fan living in Texas.

His favorite pastimes includes hanging out with his two dogs, Boomer and Teddy. 

Craig Stanton

A member of team ISS Mimic raising an eyebrow while working on the ISS Mimic hardware
Craig’s knows what’s up. Or knows a secret. We can’t tell. Maybe both?

Craig’s father worked for the Space Shuttle program, designing the ascent flight trajectories profiles for the early missions. He remembers being on site at Johnson Space Center one evening, in a freezing cold computer terminal room, punching cards for a program his dad wrote in the early 1980s.

Craig grew up with LEGO and majored in Architecture and Space Design at the University of Houston’s Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA).

His day job involves measuring ISS major assemblies on the ground to ensure they’ll fit together on-orbit. Traveling to many countries to measure hardware that will never see each other until on-orbit is the really coolest part of the job.

Sam Treagold

A member of team ISS Mimc sitting at a laptop
Sam: not to be trusted with hardware you don’t want shot in the desert

Sam Treadgold is an aerospace engineer who also works on the Meteoroid and Orbital Debris team, helping to protect the ISS and Space Launch System from hypervelocity impacts. Occasionally they take spaceflight hardware out to the desert and shoot it with a giant gun to see what happens.

In a non-pandemic world he enjoys rock climbing, music festivals, and making sound-reactive LED sunglasses.

Chen Deng

A member of team ISS Mimic showing off a solar panel
Chen showing off the very shiniest part of the ISS Mimic (solar panels)

Chen Deng is a Systems Engineer working at Boeing with the International Space Station (ISS) program. Her job is to ensure readiness of Payloads, or science experiments, to launch in various spacecraft and operations to conduct research aboard the ISS.

The ISS provides a very unique science laboratory environment, something we can’t get much of on earth: microgravity!  The term microgravity means a state of little or very weak gravity.  The virtual absence of gravity allows scientists to conduct experiments that are impossible to perform on earth, where gravity affects everything that we do.

In her free time, Chen enjoys hiking, board games, and creative projects alike.

Bryan Murphy

bryan murphy from team iss mimic at nasa
Bryan, adorned with an LED necklace, posing next to ISS Mimic’s rotating solar panel ‘wings’

Bryan Murphy is a dynamics and motion control engineer at Boeing, where he gets to create digital physics models of robotic space mechanisms to predict their performance.

His favorite projects include the ISS treadmill vibration isolation system and the shiny new docking system. He grew up on a small farm where his hands-on time with mechanical devices fueled his interest in engineering.

When not at work, he loves to brainstorm and create with his artist/engineer wife and their nerdy kids, or go on long family roadtrips—- especially to hike and kayak or eat ice cream. He’s also vice president of a local makerspace, where he leads STEM outreach and includes excess LEDs in all his builds.

Susan

A member of team ISS Mimic
Here’s Susan rocking some of those LED glasses and getting a good grip on ISS Mimic

Susan is a mechanical engineer and a 30+-year veteran of manned spaceflight operations.  She has worked the Space Shuttle Program for Payloads (middeck experiments and payloads deployed with the shuttle arm) starting with STS-30 and was on the team that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.

She then transitioned into life sciences experiments, which led to the NASA Mir Program where she was on continuous rotation for three years to Russian Mission Control, supporting the NASA astronaut and science experiments onboard the space station as a predecessor to the ISS.

She currently works on the ISS Program (for over 20 years now), where she used to write procedures for on-orbit assembly of the Space Xtation and now writes installation procedures for on-orbit modifications like the docking adapter. She is also an artist and makes crosses out of found objects, and even used to play professional women’s football.

Keep in touch

Team ISS posing in NASA t shirts in front of the ISS mimic

You can keep up with Team ISS Mimic on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. For more info or to join the team, check out their GitHub page and Discord.

Kids, run your code on the ISS!

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge

Did you know that there are Raspberry Pi computers aboard the real ISS that young people can run their own Python programs on? How cool is that?!

Find out how to participate at astro-pi.org.

The post Meet team behind the mini Raspberry Pi–powered ISS appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

13 Raspberry Pis slosh-test space shuttle tanks in zero gravity

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/13-raspberry-pis-slosh-test-space-shuttle-tanks-in-zero-gravity/

High-school student Eleanor Sigrest successfully crowdfunded her way onto a zero-G flight to test her latest Raspberry Pi-powered project. NASA Goddard engineers peer reviewed Eleanor’s experimental design, which detects unwanted movement (or ‘slosh’) in spacecraft fluid tanks.

The Raspberry Pi-packed setup

The apparatus features an accelerometer to precisely determine the moment of zero gravity, along with 13 Raspberry Pis and 12 Raspberry Pi cameras to capture the slosh movement.

What’s wrong with slosh?

The Broadcom Foundation shared a pretty interesting minute-by-minute report on Eleanor’s first hyperbolic flight and how she got everything working. But, in a nutshell…

The full apparatus onboard the zero gravity flight

You don’t want the fluid in your space shuttle tanks sloshing around too much. It’s a mission-ending problem. Slosh occurs on take-off and also in microgravity during manoeuvres, so Eleanor devised this novel approach to managing it in place of the costly, heavy subsystems currently used on board space craft.

Eleanor wanted to prove that the fluid inside tanks treated with superhydrophobic and superhydrophilic coatings settled quicker than in uncoated tanks. And she was right: settling times were reduced by 73% in some cases.

Eleanor at work

A continuation of this experiment is due to go up on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket – and yes, a patent is already pending.

Curiosity, courage & compromise

At just 13 years old, Eleanor won the Samueli Prize at the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS for her mastery of STEM principles and team leadership during a rigorous week-long competition. High praise came from Paula Golden, President of Broadcom Foundation, who said: “Eleanor is the epitome of a young woman scientist and engineer. She combines insatiable curiosity with courage: two traits that are essential for a leader in these fields.”

Eleanor aged 13 with her award-winning project ‘Rockets & Nozzles & Thrust… Oh My’

That week-long experience also included a Raspberry Pi Challenge, and Eleanor explained: “During the Raspberry Pi Challenge, I learned that sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. I also learned it’s important to try everyone’s ideas because you never know which one might work the best. Sometimes it’s a compromise of different ideas, or a compromise between complicated and simple. The most important thing is to consider them all.”

Get this girl to Mars already.

The post 13 Raspberry Pis slosh-test space shuttle tanks in zero gravity appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

NASA, Raspberry Pi and a mini rover

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/nasa-raspberry-pi-and-a-mini-rover/

NASA scientist Dr Jamie Molaro plans to conduct potentially ground-breaking research using a Raspberry Pi seismometer and a mini rover.

Jamie has been working on a payload-loaded version of NASA’s Open Source Rover

In the summer of 2018, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built a mini planetary rover with the aim of letting students, hobbyists, and enthusiasts create one for themselves. It uses commercial off-the-shelf parts and has a Raspberry Pi as its brain. But despite costing about $5333 in total, the Open Source Rover Project has proven rather popular, including among people who actually work for the USA’s space agency.

One of those is Dr Jamie Molaro, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. Her main focus is studying the surfaces of rocky and icy airless bodies such as comets, asteroids, and the moons orbiting Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn. So when she decided to create her mini-rover – which she dubbed PARSLEE, or Planetary Analog Remote Sensor and ‘Lil Electronic Explorer – she also sought to shake things up a little.

Brought to life

Constructing the robot itself was, she says, rather straightforward: the instructions were detailed and she was able to draw upon the help of others in a forum. Jamie also built the robot with her husband, a software engineer at Adobe. “My interest in the Open Source Rover Project was driven by my scientific background, but not my ability to build it”, she tells us, of what is essentially a miniature version of the Curiosity rover trundling over the surface of Mars.

After building the rover wheel assembly, Jamie worked on the head assembly and then the main body itself

Jamie’s interest in science led to her considering the rover’s potential payload before the couple had even finished building it. She added a GoPro camera and a Kestrel 833, which measures temperature, pressure, elevation, wind speed, and humidity. In addition, she opted to use a Raspberry Shake seismometer – a device costing a few hundred dollars which comprises a device sensor, circuit board, and digitiser – with a Raspberry Pi board and a preprogrammed microSD card.

With the electronics assembly complete, Jamie and her husband could get on with integrating PARSLEE’s parts

The sensor records activity, converts the analogue signals to digital, and allows the recorded data to be read on Raspberry Shake servers. Jamie hopes to use PARSLEE to study the kinds of processes active at the surface of other planets. A seismometer helps us understand our physical environment in a very different way than images from a camera, she says.

Seismic solutions

To that end, with funding, Jamie would like to heat and cool boulders and soils in the lab and in the field and analyse their seismic signature. Thermally driven shallow moonquakes were recorded by instruments used by the Apollo astronauts, she says. “We believe these quakes may reflect signals from a thermal fracturing process that breaks down lunar boulders, or from the boulders and surrounding soil shifting and settling as it changes temperature throughout the day. We can do experiments on Earth that mimic this process and use what we learn to help us understand the lunar seismic data.”

A Raspberry Pi processes the data recorded from the sensor and powers the whole device, with the whole unit forming a payload on PARSLEE

Jamie is also toying with optimum locations for the Shake-fitted rover. The best planetary analogue environments are usually deserts, due to the lack of moisture and low vegetation, she reveals. Places like dry lake beds, lava flows, and sand dunes all provide good challenges in terms of testing the rover’s ability to manoeuvre and collect data, as well as to try out technology being developed with and for it. One thing’s for sure, it is set to travel and potentially make a scientific breakthrough: anyone can use the rover for DIY science experiments.

Read more about PARSLEE on Jamie’s website.

The MagPi magazine #83

This article is from the brand-new issue of The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine. Buy it from all good newsagents, subscribe to pay less per issue and support our work, or download the free PDF to give it a try first.


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Build your own NASA Curiosity rover

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/build-nasa-curiosity-rover/

Put together your own remote-controlled Curiosity rover with the help of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a Raspberry Pi.

NASA JPL rover Raspberry Pi

Why wouldn’t you want one of these?!

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

To educate the curious about the use of rovers in space, the Pasadena-based NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) built a mini-rover, ROV-E, to tour classrooms, museums, and public engagement events.

NASA JPL rover ROV-E Raspberry Pi

The original ROV-E comes with a much higher price tag, so the JPL engineers decided to scale it down for home makers

And so engaged was the public by the rover and its ability to manoeuvre harsh terrain, rocks, and small children, that the JLP engineers have published a building plan that allows rover-enthused makers to build their own for around $2500 using off-the-shelf parts.

Curiosity for the curious

The JPL open-source rover is a scaled-down model of Curiosity, the car-sized rover currently on day 2187 of its mission to explore the surface of Mars.

NASA JPL rover Raspberry Pi

The Mars rover sings Happy birthday to itself on 5 August every year, and this fact breaks out hearts!

And while the home-brew version of Curiosity may not be able to explore the Red Planet, project sponsor Tom Soderstrom believes it can offer plenty of opportunities to future STEM pioneers:

“We wanted to give back to the community and lower the barrier of entry by giving hands-on experience to the next generation of scientists, engineers, and programmers.”

A Pi at the heart of the rover

The rover uses a variety of tech makers may already have in their arsenal, including USB cameras and a Raspberry Pi. JPL’s design also gives you the option to swap out components with alternatives.

NASA JPL rover Raspberry Pi

Control the rover however you please: via a games controller, a smartphone, or a program of your own design

To control the rover, JPL decided to use a Raspberry Pi:

We chose a Raspberry Pi to be the ‘brain’ of this rover for its versatility, accessibility, simplicity, and ability to add and upgrade your own modifications. Any method with which you can communicate with a Raspberry Pi (Bluetooth, WiFi, USB devices, etc.) can be interfaced into the control system of the robot.

Full plans for the six-wheel rover are available on JPL’s GitHub, where they also list all parts required, final specs, and supporting info such as links to the project forum and parts suppliers. You can also visit the official project website to control your own rover on the surface of Mars…a simulated rover, of course, but one can dream!

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Astro Pi upgrades launch today!

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-upgrades-launch/

Before our beloved SpaceDave left the Raspberry Pi Foundation to join the ranks of the European Space Agency (ESA) — and no, we’re still not jealous *ahem* — he kindly drafted us one final blog post about the Astro Pi upgrades heading to the International Space Station today! So here it is. Enjoy!

We are very excited to announce that Astro Pi upgrades are on their way to the International Space Station! Back in September, we blogged about a small payload being launched to the International Space Station to upgrade the capabilities of our Astro Pi units.

Astro Pi Raspberry Pi International Space Station

Sneak peek

For the longest time, the payload was scheduled to be launched on SpaceX CRS 14 in February. However, the launch was delayed to April and so impacted the flight operations we have planned for running Mission Space Lab student experiments.

To avoid this, ESA had the payload transferred to Russian Soyuz MS-08 (54S), which is launching today to carry crew members Oleg Artemyev, Andrew Feustel, and Ricky Arnold to the ISS.

Ricky Arnold on Twitter

L-47 hours.

You can watch coverage of the launch on NASA TV from 4.30pm GMT this afternoon, with the launch scheduled for 5.44pm GMT. Check the NASA TV schedule for updates.

The upgrades

The pictures below show the flight hardware in its final configuration before loading onto the launch vehicle.

Wireless dongle in bag — Astro Pi upgrades

All access

With the wireless dongle, the Astro Pi units can be deployed in ISS locations other than the Columbus module, where they don’t have access to an Ethernet switch.

We are also sending some flexible optical filters. These are made from the same material as the blue square which is shipped with the Raspberry Pi NoIR Camera Module.

Optical filters in bag — Astro Pi upgrades

#bluefilter

So that future Astro Pi code will need to command fewer windows to download earth observation imagery to the ground, we’re also including some 32GB micro SD cards to replace the current 8GB cards.

Micro SD cards in bag — Astro Pi upgrades

More space in space

Tthe items above are enclosed in a large 8″ ziplock bag that has been designated the “AstroPi Kit”.

bag of Astro Pi upgrades

It’s ziplock bags all the way down up

Once the Soyuz docks with the ISS, this payload is one of the first which will be unpacked, so that the Astro Pi units can be upgraded and deployed ready to run your experiments!

More Astro Pi

Stay tuned for our next update in April, when student code is set to be run on the Astro Pi units as part of our Mission Space Lab programme. And to find out more about Astro Pi, head to the programme website.

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New Amazon EC2 Spot pricing model: Simplified purchasing without bidding and fewer interruptions

Post Syndicated from Roshni Pary original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/new-amazon-ec2-spot-pricing/

Contributed by Deepthi Chelupati and Roshni Pary

Amazon EC2 Spot Instances offer spare compute capacity in the AWS Cloud at steep discounts. Customers—including Yelp, NASA JPL, FINRA, and Autodesk—use Spot Instances to reduce costs and get faster results. Spot Instances provide acceleration, scale, and deep cost savings to big data workloads, containerized applications such as web services, test/dev, and many types of HPC and batch jobs.

At re:Invent 2017, we launched a new pricing model that simplified the Spot purchasing experience. The new model gives you predictable prices that adjust slowly over days and weeks, with typical savings of 70-90% over On-Demand. With the previous pricing model, some of you had to invest time and effort to analyze historical prices to determine your bidding strategy and maximum bid price. Not anymore.

How does the new pricing model work?

You don’t have to bid for Spot Instances in the new pricing model, and you just pay the Spot price that’s in effect for the current hour for the instances that you launch. It’s that simple. Now you can request Spot capacity just like you would request On-Demand capacity, without having to spend time analyzing market prices or setting a maximum bid price.

Previously, Spot Instances were terminated in ascending order of bids, and the Spot price was set to the highest unfulfilled bid. The market prices fluctuated frequently because of this. In the new model, the Spot prices are more predictable, updated less frequently, and are determined by supply and demand for Amazon EC2 spare capacity, not bid prices. You can find the price that’s in effect for the current hour in the EC2 console.

As you can see from the above Spot Instance Pricing History graph (available in the EC2 console under Spot Requests), Spot prices were volatile before the pricing model update. However, after the pricing model update, prices are more predictable and change less frequently.

In the new model, you still have the option to further control costs by submitting a “maximum price” that you are willing to pay in the console when you request Spot Instances:

You can also set your maximum price in EC2 RunInstances or RequestSpotFleet API calls, or in command line requests:

$ aws ec2 run-instances --instance-market-options 
'{"MarketType":"Spot", "SpotOptions": {"SpotPrice": "0.12"}}' \
    --image-id ami-1a2b3c4d --count 1 --instance-type c4.2xlarge

The default maximum price is the On-Demand price and you can continue to set a maximum Spot price of up to 10x the On-Demand price. That means, if you have been running applications on Spot Instances and use the RequestSpotInstances or RequestSpotFleet operations, you can continue to do so. The new Spot pricing model is backward compatible and you do not need to make any changes to your existing applications.

Fewer interruptions

Spot Instances receive a two-minute interruption notice when these instances are about to be reclaimed by EC2, because EC2 needs the capacity back. We have significantly reduced the interruptions with the new pricing model. Now instances are not interrupted because of higher competing bids, and you can enjoy longer workload runtimes. The typical frequency of interruption for Spot Instances in the last 30 days was less than 5% on average.

To reduce the impact of interruptions and optimize Spot Instances, diversify and run your application across multiple capacity pools. Each instance family, each instance size, in each Availability Zone, in every Region is a separate Spot pool. You can use the RequestSpotFleet API operation to launch thousands of Spot Instances and diversify resources automatically. To further reduce the impact of interruptions, you can also set up Spot Instances and Spot Fleets to respond to an interruption notice by stopping or hibernating rather than terminating instances when capacity is no longer available.

Spot Instances are now available in 18 Regions and 51 Availability Zones, and offer 100s of instance options. We have eliminated bidding, simplified the pricing model, and have made it easy to get started with Amazon EC2 Spot Instances for you to take advantage of the largest pool of cost-effective compute capacity in the world. See the Spot Instances detail page for more information and create your Spot Instance here.

HackSpace magazine 4: the wearables issue

Post Syndicated from Andrew Gregory original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/hackspace-4-wearables/

Big things are afoot in the world of HackSpace magazine! This month we’re running our first special issue, with wearables projects throughout the magazine. Moreover, we’re giving away our first subscription gift free to all 12-month print subscribers. Lastly, and most importantly, we’ve made the cover EXTRA SHINY!

HackSpace magazine issue 4 cover

Prepare your eyeballs — it’s HackSpace magazine issue 4!

Wearables

In this issue, we’re taking an in-depth look at wearable tech. Not Fitbits or Apple Watches — we’re talking stuff you can make yourself, from projects that take a couple of hours to put together, to the huge, inspiring builds that are bringing technology to the runway. If you like wearing clothes and you like using your brain to make things better, then you’ll love this feature.

We’re continuing our obsession with Nixie tubes, with the brilliant Time-To-Go-Clock – Trump edition. This ingenious bit of kit uses obsolete Russian electronics to count down the time until the end of the 45th president’s term in office. However, you can also program it to tell the time left to any predictable event, such as the deadline for your tax return or essay submission, or the date England gets knocked out of the World Cup.

HackSpace magazine page 08
HackSpace magazine page 70
HackSpace magazine issue 4 page 98

We’re also talking to Dr Lucy Rogers — NASA alumna, Robot Wars judge, and fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers — about the difference between making as a hobby and as a job, and about why we need the Guild of Makers. Plus, issue 4 has a teeny boat, the most beautiful Raspberry Pi cases you’ve ever seen, and it explores the results of what happens when you put a bunch of hardware hackers together in a French chateau — sacré bleu!

Tutorials

As always, we’ve got more how-tos than you can shake a soldering iron at. Fittingly for the current climate here in the UK, there’s a hot water monitor, which shows you how long you have before your morning shower turns cold, and an Internet of Tea project to summon a cuppa from your kettle via the web. Perhaps not so fittingly, there’s also an ESP8266 project for monitoring a solar power station online. Readers in the southern hemisphere, we’ll leave that one for you — we haven’t seen the sun here for months!

And there’s more!

We’re super happy to say that all our 12-month print subscribers have been sent an Adafruit Circuit Playground Express with this new issue:

Adafruit Circuit Playground Express HackSpace

This gadget was developed primarily with wearables in mind and comes with all sorts of in-built functionality, so subscribers can get cracking with their latest wearable project today! If you’re not a 12-month print subscriber, you’ll miss out, so subscribe here to get your magazine and your device,  and let us know what you’ll make.

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Astro Pi celebrates anniversary of ISS Columbus module

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-celebrates-anniversary/

Right now, 400km above the Earth aboard the International Space Station, are two very special Raspberry Pi computers. They were launched into space on 6 December 2015 and are, most assuredly, the farthest-travelled Raspberry Pi computers in existence. Each year they run experiments that school students create in the European Astro Pi Challenge.

Raspberry Astro Pi units on the International Space Station

Left: Astro Pi Vis (Ed); right: Astro Pi IR (Izzy). Image credit: ESA.

The European Columbus module

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the European Columbus module. The Columbus module is the European Space Agency’s largest single contribution to the ISS, and it supports research in many scientific disciplines, from astrobiology and solar science to metallurgy and psychology. More than 225 experiments have been carried out inside it during the past decade. It’s also home to our Astro Pi computers.

Here’s a video from 7 February 2008, when Space Shuttle Atlantis went skywards carrying the Columbus module in its cargo bay.

STS-122 Launch NASA TV Coverage

From February 7th, 2008 NASA-TV Coverage of The 121st Space Shuttle Launch Launched At:2:45:30 P.M E.T – Coverage begins exactly one hour till launch STS-122 Crew:

Today, coincidentally, is also the deadline for the European Astro Pi Challenge: Mission Space Lab. Participating teams have until midnight tonight to submit their experiments.

Anniversary celebrations

At 16:30 GMT today there will be a live event on NASA TV for the Columbus module anniversary with NASA flight engineers Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei.

Our Astro Pi computers will be joining in the celebrations by displaying a digital birthday candle that the crew can blow out. It works by detecting an increase in humidity when someone blows on it. The video below demonstrates the concept.

AstroPi candle

Uploaded by Effi Edmonton on 2018-01-17.

Do try this at home

The exact Astro Pi code that will run on the ISS today is available for you to download and run on your own Raspberry Pi and Sense HAT. You’ll notice that the program includes code to make it stop automatically when the date changes to 8 February. This is just to save time for the ground control team.

If you have a Raspberry Pi and a Sense HAT, you can use the terminal commands below to download and run the code yourself:

wget http://rpf.io/colbday -O birthday.py
chmod +x birthday.py
./birthday.py

When you see a blank blue screen with the brightness increasing, the Sense HAT is measuring the baseline humidity. It does this every 15 minutes so it can recalibrate to take account of natural changes in background humidity. A humidity increase of 2% is needed to blow out the candle, so if the background humidity changes by more than 2% in 15 minutes, it’s possible to get a false positive. Press Ctrl + C to quit.

Please tweet pictures of your candles to @astro_pi – we might share yours! And if we’re lucky, we might catch a glimpse of the candle on the ISS during the NASA TV event at 16:30 GMT today.

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Astro Pi Mission Zero: your code is in space

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/astro-pi-mission-zero-day/

Every school year, we run the European Astro Pi challenge to find the next generation of space scientists who will program two space-hardened Raspberry Pi units, called Astro Pis, living aboard the International Space Station.

Italian ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli with the Astro Pi units. Image credit ESA.

Astro Pi Mission Zero

The 2017–2018 challenge included the brand-new non-competitive Mission Zero, which guaranteed that participants could have their code run on the ISS for 30 seconds, provided they followed the rules. They would also get a certificate showing the exact time period during which their code ran in space.

Astro Pi Mission Zero logo

We asked participants to write a simple Python program to display a personalised message and the air temperature on the Astro Pi screen. No special hardware was needed, since all the code could be written in a web browser using the Sense HAT emulator developed in partnership with Trinket.

Scott McKenzie on Twitter

Students coding #astropi emulator to scroll a message to astronauts on @Raspberry_Pi in space this summer. Try it here: https://t.co/0KURq11X0L #Rm9Parents #CSforAll #ontariocodes

And now it’s time…

We received over 2500 entries for Mission Zero, and we’re excited to announce that tomorrow all entries with flight status will be run on the ISS…in SPAAACE!

There are 1771 Python programs with flight status, which will run back-to-back on Astro Pi VIS (Ed). The whole process will take about 14 hours. This means that everyone will get a timestamp showing 1 February, so we’re going to call this day Mission Zero Day!

Part of each team’s certificate will be a map, like the one below, showing the exact location of the ISS while the team’s code was running.

The grey line is the ISS orbital path, the red marker shows the ISS’s location when their code was running. Produced using Google Static Maps API.

The programs will be run in the same sequence in which we received them. For operational reasons, we can’t guarantee that they will run while the ISS flies over any particular location. However, if you have submitted an entry to Mission Zero, there is a chance that your code will run while the ISS is right overhead!

Go out and spot the station

Spotting the ISS is a great activity to do by yourself or with your students. The station looks like a very fast-moving star that crosses the sky in just a few minutes. If you know when and where to look, and it’s not cloudy, you literally can’t miss it.

Source Andreas Möller, Wikimedia Commons.

The ISS passes over most ground locations about twice a day. For it to be clearly visible though, you need darkness on the ground with sunlight on the ISS due to its altitude. There are a number of websites which can tell you when these visible passes occur, such as NASA’s Spot the Station. Each of the sites requires you to give your location so it can work out when visible passes will occur near you.

Visible ISS pass star chart from Heavens Above, on which familiar constellations such as the Plough (see label Ursa Major) can be seen.

A personal favourite of mine is Heavens Above. It’s slightly more fiddly to use than other sites, but it produces brilliant star charts that show you precisely where to look in the sky. This is how it works:

  1. Go to www.heavens-above.com
  2. To set your location, click on Unspecified in the top right-hand corner
  3. Enter your location (e.g. Cambridge, United Kingdom) into the text box and click Search
  4. The map should change to the correct location — scroll down and click Update
  5. You’ll be taken back to the homepage, but with your location showing at the top right
  6. Click on ISS in the Satellites section
  7. A table of dates will now show, which are the upcoming visible passes for your location
  8. Click on a row to view the star chart for that pass — the line is the path of the ISS, and the arrow shows direction of travel
  9. Be outside in cloudless weather at the start time, look towards the direction where the line begins, and hope the skies stay clear

If you go out and do this, then tweet some pictures to @raspberry_pi, @astro_pi, and @esa. Good luck!

More Astro Pi

Mission Zero certificates will be arriving in participants’ inboxes shortly. We would like to thank everyone who participated in Mission Zero this school year, and we hope that next time you’ll take it one step further and try Mission Space Lab.

Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab are two really exciting programmes that young people of all ages can take part in. If you would like to be notified when the next round of Astro Pi opens for registrations, sign up to our mailing list here.

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The Raspberry Pi Christmas shopping list 2017

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/christmas-shopping-list-2017/

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a beloved maker in your life? Maybe you’d like to give a relative or friend a taste of the world of coding and Raspberry Pi? Whatever you’re looking for, the Raspberry Pi Christmas shopping list will point you in the right direction.

An ice-skating Raspberry Pi - The Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping List 2017

For those getting started

Thinking about introducing someone special to the wonders of Raspberry Pi during the holidays? Although you can set up your Pi with peripherals from around your home, such as a mobile phone charger, your PC’s keyboard, and the old mouse dwelling in an office drawer, a starter kit is a nice all-in-one package for the budding coder.



Check out the starter kits from Raspberry Pi Approved Resellers such as Pimoroni, The Pi Hut, ModMyPi, Adafruit, CanaKit…the list is pretty long. Our products page will direct you to your closest reseller, or you can head to element14 to pick up the official Raspberry Pi Starter Kit.



You can also buy the Raspberry Pi Press’s brand-new Raspberry Pi Beginners Book, which includes a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a case, a ready-made SD card, and adapter cables.

Once you’ve presented a lucky person with their first Raspberry Pi, it’s time for them to spread their maker wings and learn some new skills.

MagPi Essentials books - The Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping List 2017

To help them along, you could pick your favourite from among the Official Projects Book volume 3, The MagPi Essentials guides, and the brand-new third edition of Carrie Anne Philbin’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi. (She is super excited about this new edition!)

And you can always add a link to our free resources on the gift tag.

For the maker in your life

If you’re looking for something for a confident digital maker, you can’t go wrong with adding to their arsenal of electric and electronic bits and bobs that are no doubt cluttering drawers and boxes throughout their house.



Components such as servomotors, displays, and sensors are staples of the maker world. And when it comes to jumper wires, buttons, and LEDs, one can never have enough.



You could also consider getting your person a soldering iron, some helpings hands, or small tools such as a Dremel or screwdriver set.

And to make their life a little less messy, pop it all inside a Really Useful Box…because they’re really useful.



For kit makers

While some people like to dive into making head-first and to build whatever comes to mind, others enjoy working with kits.



The Naturebytes kit allows you to record the animal visitors of your garden with the help of a camera and a motion sensor. Footage of your local badgers, birds, deer, and more will be saved to an SD card, or tweeted or emailed to you if it’s in range of WiFi.

Cortec Tiny 4WD - The Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping List 2017

Coretec’s Tiny 4WD is a kit for assembling a Pi Zero–powered remote-controlled robot at home. Not only is the robot adorable, building it also a great introduction to motors and wireless control.



Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Pro Kit offers everything you need to create interactive electronics projects using conductive paint.

Pi Hut Arcade Kit - The Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping List 2017

Finally, why not help your favourite maker create their own gaming arcade using the Arcade Building Kit from The Pi Hut?

For the reader

For those who like to curl up with a good read, or spend too much of their day on public transport, a book or magazine subscription is the perfect treat.

For makers, hackers, and those interested in new technologies, our brand-new HackSpace magazine and the ever popular community magazine The MagPi are ideal. Both are available via a physical or digital subscription, and new subscribers to The MagPi also receive a free Raspberry Pi Zero W plus case.

Cover of CoderDojo Nano Make your own game

Marc Scott Beginner's Guide to Coding Book

You can also check out other publications from the Raspberry Pi family, including CoderDojo’s new CoderDojo Nano: Make Your Own Game, Eben Upton and Gareth Halfacree’s Raspberry Pi User Guide, and Marc Scott’s A Beginner’s Guide to Coding. And have I mentioned Carrie Anne’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi yet?

Stocking fillers for everyone

Looking for something small to keep your loved ones occupied on Christmas morning? Or do you have to buy a Secret Santa gift for the office tech? Here are some wonderful stocking fillers to fill your boots with this season.

Pi Hut 3D Christmas Tree - The Raspberry Pi Christmas Shopping List 2017

The Pi Hut 3D Xmas Tree: available as both a pre-soldered and a DIY version, this gadget will work with any 40-pin Raspberry Pi and allows you to create your own mini light show.



Google AIY Voice kit: build your own home assistant using a Raspberry Pi, the MagPi Essentials guide, and this brand-new kit. “Google, play Mariah Carey again…”



Pimoroni’s Raspberry Pi Zero W Project Kits offer everything you need, including the Pi, to make your own time-lapse cameras, music players, and more.



The official Raspberry Pi Sense HAT, Camera Module, and cases for the Pi 3 and Pi Zero will complete the collection of any Raspberry Pi owner, while also opening up exciting project opportunities.

STEAM gifts that everyone will love

Awesome Astronauts | Building LEGO’s Women of NASA!

LEGO Idea’s bought out this amazing ‘Women of NASA’ set, and I thought it would be fun to build, play and learn from these inspiring women! First up, let’s discover a little more about Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, two AWESOME ASTRONAUTS!

Treat the kids, and big kids, in your life to the newest LEGO Ideas set, the Women of NASA — starring Nancy Grace Roman, Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride, and Mae Jemison!



Explore the world of wearables with Pimoroni’s sewable, hackable, wearable, adorable Bearables kits.



Add lights and motors to paper creations with the Activating Origami Kit, available from The Pi Hut.




We all loved Hidden Figures, and the STEAM enthusiast you know will do too. The film’s available on DVD, and you can also buy the original book, along with other fascinating non-fiction such as Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rachel Ignotofsky’s Women in Science, and Sydney Padua’s (mostly true) The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.

Have we missed anything?

With so many amazing kits, HATs, and books available from members of the Raspberry Pi community, it’s hard to only pick a few. Have you found something splendid for the maker in your life? Maybe you’ve created your own kit that uses the Raspberry Pi? Share your favourites with us in the comments below or via our social media accounts.

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Turtle, the earthbound crowdfunded rover

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/turtle-rover/

With ten days to go until the end of their crowdfunding campaign, the team behind the Turtle Rover are waiting eagerly for their project to become a reality for earthbound explorers across the globe.

Turtle Rover

Turtle is the product of the Mars Rover prototype engineers at Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland. Their waterproof land rover can be controlled via your tablet or smartphone, and allows you to explore hidden worlds too small or dangerous for humans. The team says this about their project:

NASA and ESA plan to send another rover to Mars in 2020. SpaceX wants to send one million people to Mars in the next 100 years. However, before anyone sends a rover to another planet, we designed Turtle — a robot to remind you about how beautiful the Earth is.

With a Raspberry Pi at its core, Turtle is an open-source, modular device to which you can attach new, interesting features such as extra cameras, lights, and a DSLR adapter. Depending on the level at which you back the Kickstarter, you might also receive a robotic arm as a reward for your support.

Turtle Rover Kickstarter Raspberry Pi

The Turtle can capture photos and video, and even live-stream video to your device. Moreover, its emergency stop button offers peace of mind whenever your explorations takes your Turtle to cliff edges or other unsafe locations.

Constructed of aerospace-grade aluminium, plastics, and stainless steel, its robust form, watertight and dust-proof body, and 4-hour battery life make the Turtle a great tool for education and development, as well as a wonderful addition to recreational activities such as Airsoft.

Back the Turtle

If you want to join in the Turtle Rover revolution, you have ten days left to back the team on Kickstarter. Pledge €1497 for an unassembled kit (you’ll need your own Raspberry Pi, battery, and servos), or €1549 for a complete rover. The team plan to send your Turtle to you by June 2018 — so get ready to explore!

Turtle Rover Kickstarter Raspberry Pi

For more information on the build, including all crowdfunding rewards, check out their Kickstarter page. And if you’d like to follow their journey, be sure to follow them on Twitter.

Your Projects

Are you running a Raspberry Pi-based crowdfunding campaign? Or maybe you’ve got your idea, and you’re soon going to unleash it on the world? Whatever your plans, we’d love to see what you’re up to, so make sure to let us know via our social media channels or an email to [email protected]

 

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The Weather Station and the eclipse

Post Syndicated from Richard Hayler original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/weather-station-eclipse/

As everyone knows, one of the problems with the weather is that it can be difficult to predict a long time in advance. In the UK we’ve had stormy conditions for weeks but, of course, now that I’ve finished my lightning detector, everything has calmed down. If you’re planning to make scientific measurements of a particular phenomenon, patience is often required.

Oracle Weather Station

Wake STEM ECH get ready to safely observe the eclipse

In the path of the eclipse

Fortunately, this wasn’t a problem for Mr Burgess and his students at Wake STEM Early College High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. They knew exactly when the event they were interested in studying was going to occur: they were going to use their Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station to monitor the progress of the 2017 solar eclipse.

Wake STEM EC HS on Twitter

Through the @Celestron telescope #Eclipse2017 @WCPSS via @stemburgess

Measuring the temperature drop

The Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Stations are always active and recording data, so all the students needed to do was check that everything was connected and working. That left them free to enjoy the eclipse, and take some amazing pictures like the one above.

You can see from the data how the changes in temperature lag behind the solar events – this makes sense, as it takes a while for the air to cool down. When the sun starts to return, the temperature rise continues on its pre-eclipse trajectory.

Oracle Weather Station

Weather station data 21st Aug: the yellow bars mark the start and end of the eclipse, the red bar marks the maximum sun coverage.

Reading Mr Burgess’ description, I’m feeling rather jealous. Being in the path of the Eclipse sounds amazing: “In North Carolina we experienced 93% coverage, so a lot of sunlight was still shining, but the landscape took on an eerie look. And there was a cool wind like you’d experience at dusk, not at 2:30 pm on a hot summer day. I was amazed at the significant drop in temperature that occurred in a small time frame.”

Temperature drop during Eclipse Oracle Weather Station.

Close up of data showing temperature drop as recorded by the Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station. The yellow bars mark the start and end of the eclipse, the red bar marks the maximum sun coverage.

 Weather Station in the classroom

I’ve been preparing for the solar eclipse for almost two years, with the weather station arriving early last school year. I did not think about temperature data until I read about citizen scientists on a NASA website,” explains Mr Burgess, who is now in his second year of working with the Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station. Around 120 ninth-grade students (ages 14-15) have been involved with the project so far. “I’ve found that students who don’t have a strong interest in meteorology find it interesting to look at real data and figure out trends.”

Wake STEM EC Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station installation

Wake STEM EC Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station installation

As many schools have discovered, Mr Burgess found that the biggest challenge with the Weather Station project “was finding a suitable place to install the weather station in a place that could get power and Ethernet“. To help with this problem, we’ve recently added two new guides to help with installing the wind sensors outside and using WiFi to connect the kit to the Internet.

Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station

If you want to keep up to date with all the latest Raspberry Pi Oracle Weather Station activities undertaken by our network of schools around the world, make sure you regularly check our weather station forum. Meanwhile, everyone at Wake STEM ECH is already starting to plan for their next eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024. I wonder if they’d like some help with their Weather Station?

The post The Weather Station and the eclipse appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Hunting for life on Mars assisted by high-altitude balloons

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/eclipse-high-altitude-balloons/

Will bacteria-laden high-altitude balloons help us find life on Mars? Today’s eclipse should bring us closer to an answer.

NASA Bacteria Balloons Raspberry Pi HAB Life on Mars

image c/o NASA / Ames Research Center / Tristan Caro

The Eclipse Ballooning Project

Having learned of the Eclipse Ballooning Project set to take place today across the USA, a team at NASA couldn’t miss the opportunity to harness the high-flying project for their own experiments.

NASA Bacteria Balloons Raspberry Pi HAB Life on Mars

The Eclipse Ballooning Project invited students across the USA to aid in the launch of 50+ high-altitude balloons during today’s eclipse. Each balloon is equipped with its own Raspberry Pi and camera for data collection and live video-streaming.

High-altitude ballooning, or HAB as it’s often referred to, has become a popular activity within the Raspberry Pi community. The lightweight nature of the device allows for high ascent, and its Camera Module enables instant visual content collection.

Life on Mars

image c/o Montana State University

The Eclipse Ballooning Project team, headed by Angela Des Jardins of Montana State University, was contacted by Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science at NASA, who hoped to piggyback on the project to run tests on bacteria in the Mars-like conditions the balloons would encounter near space.

Into the stratosphere

At around -35 degrees Fahrenheit, with thinner air and harsher ultraviolet radiation, the conditions in the upper part of the earth’s stratosphere are comparable to those on the surface of Mars. And during the eclipse, the moon will block some UV rays, making the environment in our stratosphere even more similar to the martian oneideal for NASA’s experiment.

So the students taking part in the Eclipse Ballooning Project could help the scientists out, NASA sent them some small metal tags.

NASA Bacteria Balloons Raspberry Pi HAB Life on Mars

These tags contain samples of a kind of bacterium known as Paenibacillus xerothermodurans. Upon their return to ground, the bacteria will be tested to see whether and how the high-altitude conditions affected them.

Life on Mars

Paenibacillus xerothermodurans is one of the most resilient bacterial species we know. The team at NASA wants to discover how the bacteria react to their flight in order to learn more about whether life on Mars could possibly exist. If the low temperature, UV rays, and air conditions cause the bacteria to mutate or indeed die, we can be pretty sure that the existence of living organisms on the surface of Mars is very unlikely.

Life on Mars

What happens to the bacteria on the spacecraft and rovers we send to space? This experiment should provide some answers.

The eclipse

If you’re in the US, you might have a chance to witness the full solar eclipse today. And if you’re planning to watch, please make sure to take all precautionary measures. In a nutshell, don’t look directly at the sun. Not today, not ever.

If you’re in the UK, you can observe a partial eclipse, if the clouds decide to vanish. And again, take note of safety measures so you don’t damage your eyes.

Life on Mars

You can also watch a live-stream of the eclipse via the NASA website.

If you’ve created an eclipse-viewing Raspberry Pi project, make sure to share it with us. And while we’re talking about eclipses and balloons, check here for our coverage of the 2015 balloon launches coinciding with the UK’s partial eclipse.

The post Hunting for life on Mars assisted by high-altitude balloons appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

New – Amazon Connect and Amazon Lex Integration

Post Syndicated from Randall Hunt original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-amazon-connect-and-amazon-lex-integration/

I’m really excited to share some recent enhancements to two of my favorite services: Amazon Connect and Amazon Lex. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center service that makes it easy for any business to deliver better customer service at lower cost. Amazon Lex is a service for building conversational interfaces using voice and text. By integrating these two services you can take advantage of Lex‘s automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language processing/understading (NLU) capabilities to create great self-service experiences for your customers. To enable this integration the Lex team added support for 8kHz speech input – more on that later. Why should you care about this? Well, if the a bot can solve the majority of your customer’s requests your customers spend less time waiting on hold and more time using your products.

If you need some more background on Amazon Connect or Lex I strongly recommend Jeff’s previous posts[1][2] on these services – especially if you like LEGOs.


Let’s dive in and learn to use this new integration. We’ll take an application that we built on our Twitch channel and modify it for this blog. At the application’s core a user calls an Amazon Connect number which connects them to an Lex bot which invokes an AWS Lambda function based on an intent from Lex. So what does our little application do?

I want to finally settle the question of what the best code editor is: I like vim, it’s a spectacular editor that does one job exceptionally well – editing code (it’s the best). My colleague Jeff likes emacs, a great operating system editor… if you were born with extra joints in your fingers. My colleague Tara loves Visual Studio and sublime. Rather than fighting over what the best editor is I thought we might let you, dear reader, vote. Don’t worry you can even vote for butterflies.

Interested in voting? Call +1 614-569-4019 and tell us which editor you’re voting for! We don’t store your number or record your voice so feel free to vote more than once for vim. Want to see the votes live? http://best-editor-ever.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/.

Now, how do we build this little contraption? We’ll cover each component but since we’ve talked about Lex and Lambda before we’ll focus mostly on the Amazon Connect component. I’m going to assume you already have a connect instance running.

Amazon Lex

Let’s start with the Lex side of things. We’ll create a bot named VoteEditor with two intents: VoteEditor with a single slot called editor and ConnectToAgent with no slots. We’ll populate our editor slot full of different code editor names (maybe we’ll leave out emacs).

AWS Lambda

Our Lambda function will also be fairly simple. First we’ll create a Amazon DynamoDB table to store our votes. Then we’ll make a helper method to respond to Lex (build_response) – it will just wrap our message in a Lex friendly response format. Now we just have to figure out our flow logic.


def lambda_handler(event, context):
    if 'ConnectToAgent' == event['currentIntent']['name']:
        return build_response("Ok, connecting you to an agent.")
    elif 'VoteEditor' == event['currentIntent']['name']:
        editor = event['currentIntent']['slots']['editor']
        resp = ddb.update_item(
            Key={"name": editor.lower()},
            UpdateExpression="SET votes = :incr + if_not_exists(votes, :default)",
            ExpressionAttributeValues={":incr": 1, ":default": 0},
            ReturnValues="ALL_NEW"
        )
        msg = "Awesome, now {} has {} votes!".format(
            resp['Attributes']['name'],
            resp['Attributes']['votes'])
        return build_response(msg)

Let’s make sure we understand the code. So, if we got a vote for an editor and it doesn’t exist yet then we add that editor with 1 vote. Otherwise we increase the number of votes on that editor by 1. If we get a request for an agent, we terminate the flow with a nice message. Easy. Now we just tell our Lex bot to use our Lambda function to fulfill our intents. We can test that everything is working over text in the Lex console before moving on.

Amazon Connect

Before we can use our Lex bot in a Contact Flow we have to make sure our Amazon Connect instance has access to it. We can do this by hopping over to the Amazon Connect service console, selecting our instance, and navigating to “Contact Flows”. There should be a section called Lex where you can add your bots!

Now that our Amazon Connect instance can invoke our Lex bot we can create a new Contact Flow that contains our Lex bot. We add the bot to our flow through the “Get customer input” widget from the “Interact” category.

Once we’re on the widget we have a “DTMF” tab for taking input from number keys on a phone or the “Amazon Lex” tab for taking voiceinput and passing it to the Lex service. We’ll use the Lex tab and put in some configuration.

Lots of options, but in short we add the bot we want to use (including the version of the bot), the intents we want to use from our bot, and a short prompt to introduce the bot (and mayb prompt the customer for input).

Our final contact flow looks like this:

A real world example might allow a customer to perform many transactions through a Lex bot. Then on an error or ConnectToAgent intent put the customer into a queue where they could talk to a real person. It could collect and store information about users and populate a rich interface for an agent to use so they could jump right into the conversation with all the context they need.

I want to especially highlight the advantage of 8kHz audio support in Lex. Lex originally only supported speech input that was sampled at a higher rate than the 8 kHz input from the phone. Modern digital communication appliations typically use audio signals sampled at a minimum of 16 kHz. This higher fidelity recroding makes it easier differentiate between sounds like “ess” (/s/) and “eff” (/f/) – or so the audio experts tell me. Phones, however, use a much lower quality recording. Humans, and their ears, are pretty good at using surrounding words to figure out what a voice is saying from a lower quality recording (just check the NASA apollo recordings for proof of this). Most digital phone systems are setup to use 8 kHz sampling by default – it’s a nice tradeoff in bandwidth and fidelity. That’s why your voice sometimes sounds different on the phone. On top of this fundmental sampling rate issue you also have to deal with the fact that a lot of phone call data is already lossy (can you hear me now?). There are thousands of different devices from hundreds of different manufacturers, and tons of different software implentations. So… how do you solve this recognition issue?

The Lex team decided that the best way to address this was to expand the set of models they were using for speech recognition to include an 8kHz model. Support for an 8 kHz telephony audio sampling rate provides increased speech recognition accuracy and fidelity for your contact center interactions. This was a great effort by the team that enables a lot of customers to do more with Amazon Connect.

One final note is that Amazon Connect uses the exact same PostContent endpoint that you can use as an external developer so you don’t have to be a Amazon Connect user to take advantage of this 8kHz feature in Lex.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post and as always the real details are in the docs and API Reference.

Randall

Launch – .NET Core Support In AWS CodeStar and AWS Codebuild

Post Syndicated from Tara Walker original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/launch-net-core-support-in-aws-codestar-and-aws-codebuild/

A few months ago, I introduced the AWS CodeStar service, which allows you to quickly develop, build, and deploy applications on AWS. AWS CodeStar helps development teams to increase the pace of releasing applications and solutions while reducing some of the challenges of building great software.

When the CodeStar service launched in April, it was released with several project templates for Amazon EC2, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, and AWS Lambda using five different programming languages; JavaScript, Java, Python, Ruby, and PHP. Each template provisions the underlying AWS Code Services and configures an end-end continuous delivery pipeline for the targeted application using AWS CodeCommit, AWS CodeBuild, AWS CodePipeline, and AWS CodeDeploy.

As I have participated in some of the AWS Summits around the world discussing AWS CodeStar, many of you have shown curiosity in learning about the availability of .NET templates in CodeStar and utilizing CodeStar to deploy .NET applications. Therefore, it is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce that you can now develop, build, and deploy cross-platform .NET Core applications with the AWS CodeStar and AWS CodeBuild services.

AWS CodeBuild has added the ability to build and deploy .NET Core application code to both Amazon EC2 and AWS Lambda. This new CodeBuild capability has enabled the addition of two new project templates in AWS CodeStar for .NET Core applications.  These new project templates enable you to deploy .NET Code applications to Amazon EC2 Linux Instances, and provides everything you need to get started quickly, including .NET Core sample code and a full software development toolchain.

Of course, I can’t wait to try out the new addition to the project templates within CodeStar and the update .NET application build options with CodeBuild. For my test scenario, I will use CodeStar to create, build, and deploy my .NET Code ASP.Net web application on EC2. Then, I will extend my ASP.Net application by creating a .NET Lambda function to be compiled and deployed with CodeBuild as a part of my application’s pipeline. This Lambda function can then be called and used within my ASP.Net application to extend the functionality of my web application.

So, let’s get started!

First, I’ll log into the CodeStar console and start a new CodeStar project. I am presented with the option to select a project template.


Right now, I would like to focus on building .NET Core projects, therefore, I’ll filter the project templates by selecting the C# in the Programming Languages section. Now, CodeStar only shows me the new .NET Core project templates that I can use to build web applications and services with ASP.NET Core.

I think I’ll use the ASP.NET Core web application project template for my first CodeStar .NET Core application. As you can see by the project template information display, my web application will be deployed on Amazon EC2, which signifies to me that my .NET Core code will be compiled and packaged using AWS CodeBuild and deployed to EC2 using the AWS CodeDeploy service.


My hunch about the services is confirmed on the next screen when CodeStar shows the AWS CodePipeline and the AWS services that will be configured for my new project. I’ll name this web application project, ASPNetCore4Tara, and leave the default Project ID that CodeStar generates from the project name. Yes, I know that this is one of the goofiest names I could ever come up with, but, hey, it will do for this test project so I’ll go ahead and click the Next button. I should mention that you have the option to edit your Amazon EC2 configuration for your project on this screen before CodeStar starts configuring and provisioning the services needed to run your application.

Since my ASP.Net Core web application will be deployed to an Amazon EC2 instance, I will need to choose an Amazon EC2 Key Pair for encryption of the login used to allow me to SSH into this instance. For my ASPNetCore4Tara project, I will use an existing Amazon EC2 key pair I have previously used for launching my other EC2 instances. However, if I was creating this project and I did not have an EC2 key pair or if I didn’t have access to the .pem file (private key file) for an existing EC2 key pair, I would have to first visit the EC2 console and create a new EC2 key pair to use for my project. This is important because if you remember, without having the EC2 key pair with the associated .pem file, I would not be able to log into my EC2 instance.

With my EC2 key pair selected and confirmation that I have the related private file checked, I am ready to click the Create Project button.


After CodeStar completes the creation of the project and the provisioning of the project related AWS services, I am ready to view the CodeStar sample application from the application endpoint displayed in the CodeStar dashboard. This sample application should be familiar to you if have been working with the CodeStar service or if you had an opportunity to read the blog post about the AWS CodeStar service launch. I’ll click the link underneath Application Endpoints to view the sample ASP.NET Core web application.

Now I’ll go ahead and clone the generated project and connect my Visual Studio IDE to the project repository. I am going to make some changes to the application and since AWS CodeBuild now supports .NET Core builds and deployments to both Amazon EC2 and AWS Lambda, I will alter my build specification file appropriately for the changes to my web application that will include the use of the Lambda function.  Don’t worry if you are not familiar with how to clone the project and connect it to the Visual Studio IDE, CodeStar provides in-console step-by-step instructions to assist you.

First things first, I will open up the Visual Studio IDE and connect to AWS CodeCommit repository provisioned for my ASPNetCore4Tara project. It is important to note that the Visual Studio 2017 IDE is required for .NET Core projects in AWS CodeStar and the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio 2017 will need to be installed prior to connecting your project repository to the IDE.

In order to connect to my repo within Visual Studio, I will open up Team Explorer and select the Connect link under the AWS CodeCommit option under Hosted Service Providers. I will click Ok to keep my default AWS profile toolkit credentials.

I’ll then click Clone under the Manage Connections and AWS CodeCommit hosted provider section.

Once I select my aspnetcore4tara repository in the Clone AWS CodeCommit Repository dialog, I only have to enter my IAM role’s HTTPS Git credentials in the Git Credentials for AWS CodeCommit dialog and my process is complete. If you’re following along and receive a dialog for Git Credential Manager login, don’t worry just your enter the same IAM role’s Git credentials.


My project is now connected to the aspnetcore4tara CodeCommit repository and my web application is loaded to editing. As you will notice in the screenshot below, the sample project is structured as a standard ASP.NET Core MVC web application.

With the project created, I can make changes and updates. Since I want to update this project with a .NET Lambda function, I’ll quickly start a new project in Visual Studio to author a very simple C# Lambda function to be compiled with the CodeStar project. This AWS Lambda function will be included in the CodeStar ASP.NET Core web application project.

The Lambda function I’ve created makes a call to the REST API of NASA’s popular Astronomy Picture of the Day website. The API sends back the latest planetary image and related information in JSON format. You can see the Lambda function code below.

using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Linq;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

using System.Net.Http;
using Amazon.Lambda.Core;

// Assembly attribute to enable the Lambda function's JSON input to be converted into a .NET class.
[assembly: LambdaSerializer(typeof(Amazon.Lambda.Serialization.Json.JsonSerializer))]

namespace NASAPicOfTheDay
{
    public class SpacePic
    {
        HttpClient httpClient = new HttpClient();
        string nasaRestApi = "https://api.nasa.gov/planetary/apod?api_key=DEMO_KEY";

        /// <summary>
        /// A simple function that retreives NASA Planetary Info and 
        /// Picture of the Day
        /// </summary>
        /// <param name="context"></param>
        /// <returns>nasaResponse-JSON String</returns>
        public async Task<string> GetNASAPicInfo(ILambdaContext context)
        {
            string nasaResponse;
            
            //Call NASA Picture of the Day API
            nasaResponse = await httpClient.GetStringAsync(nasaRestApi);
            Console.WriteLine("NASA API Response");
            Console.WriteLine(nasaResponse);
            
            //Return NASA response - JSON format
            return nasaResponse; 
        }
    }
}

I’ll now publish this C# Lambda function and test by using the Publish to AWS Lambda option provided by the AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio with NASAPicOfTheDay project. After publishing the function, I can test it and verify that it is working correctly within Visual Studio and/or the AWS Lambda console. You can learn more about building AWS Lambda functions with C# and .NET at: http://docs.aws.amazon.com/lambda/latest/dg/dotnet-programming-model.html

 

Now that I have my Lambda function completed and tested, all that is left is to update the CodeBuild buildspec.yml file within my aspnetcore4tara CodeStar project to include publishing and deploying of the Lambda function.

To accomplish this, I will create a new folder named functions and copy the folder that contains my Lambda function .NET project to my aspnetcore4tara web application project directory.

 

 

To build and publish my AWS Lambda function, I will use commands in the buildspec.yml file from the aws-lambda-dotnet tools library, which helps .NET Core developers develop AWS Lambda functions. I add a file, funcprof, to the NASAPicOfTheDay folder which contains customized profile information for use with aws-lambda-dotnet tools. All that is left is to update the buildspec.yml file used by CodeBuild for the ASPNetCore4Tara project build to include the packaging and the deployment of the NASAPictureOfDay AWS Lambda function. The updated buildspec.yml is as follows:

version: 0.2
phases:
  env:
  variables:
    basePath: 'hold'
  install:
    commands:
      - echo set basePath for project
      - basePath=$(pwd)
      - echo $basePath
      - echo Build restore and package Lambda function using AWS .NET Tools...
      - dotnet restore functions/*/NASAPicOfTheDay.csproj
      - cd functions/NASAPicOfTheDay
      - dotnet lambda package -c Release -f netcoreapp1.0 -o ../lambda_build/nasa-lambda-function.zip
  pre_build:
    commands:
      - echo Deploy Lambda function used in ASPNET application using AWS .NET Tools. Must be in path of Lambda function build 
      - cd $basePath
      - cd functions/NASAPicOfTheDay
      - dotnet lambda deploy-function NASAPicAPI -c Release -pac ../lambda_build/nasa-lambda-function.zip --profile-location funcprof -fd 'NASA API for Picture of the Day' -fn NASAPicAPI -fh NASAPicOfTheDay::NASAPicOfTheDay.SpacePic::GetNASAPicInfo -frun dotnetcore1.0 -frole arn:aws:iam::xxxxxxxxxxxx:role/lambda_exec_role -framework netcoreapp1.0 -fms 256 -ft 30  
      - echo Lambda function is now deployed - Now change directory back to Base path
      - cd $basePath
      - echo Restore started on `date`
      - dotnet restore AspNetCoreWebApplication/AspNetCoreWebApplication.csproj
  build:
    commands:
      - echo Build started on `date`
      - dotnet publish -c release -o ./build_output AspNetCoreWebApplication/AspNetCoreWebApplication.csproj
artifacts:
  files:
    - AspNetCoreWebApplication/build_output/**/*
    - scripts/**/*
    - appspec.yml
    

That’s it! All that is left is for me to add and commit all my file additions and updates to the AWS CodeCommit git repository provisioned for my ASPNetCore4Tara project. This kicks off the AWS CodePipeline for the project which will now use AWS CodeBuild new support for .NET Core to build and deploy both the ASP.NET Core web application and the .NET AWS Lambda function.

 

Summary

The support for .NET Core in AWS CodeStar and AWS CodeBuild opens the door for .NET developers to take advantage of the benefits of Continuous Integration and Delivery when building .NET based solutions on AWS.  Read more about .NET Core support in AWS CodeStar and AWS CodeBuild here or review product pages for AWS CodeStar and/or AWS CodeBuild for more information on using the services.

Enjoy building .NET projects more efficiently with Amazon Web Services using .NET Core with AWS CodeStar and AWS CodeBuild.

Tara

 

AWS GovCloud (US) Heads East – New Region in the Works for 2018

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-govcloud-us-heads-east-new-region-in-the-works-for-2018/

AWS GovCloud (US) gives AWS customers a place to host sensitive data and regulated workloads in the AWS Cloud. The first AWS GovCloud (US) Region was launched in 2011 and is located on the west coast of the US.

I’m happy to announce that we are working on a second Region that we expect to open in 2018. The upcoming AWS GovCloud (US-East) Region will provide customers with added redundancy, data durability, and resiliency, and will also provide additional options for disaster recovery.

Like the existing region, which we now call AWS GovCloud (US-West), the new region will be isolated and meet top US government compliance requirements including International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), NIST standards, Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Moderate and High, Department of Defense Impact Levels 2-4, DFARs, IRS1075, and Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) requirements. Visit the GovCloud (US) page to learn more about the compliance regimes that we support.

Government agencies and the IT contactors that serve them were early adopters of AWS GovCloud (US), as were companies in regulated industries. These organizations are able to enjoy the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of public cloud while benefiting from the isolation and data protection offered by a region designed and built to meet their regulatory needs and to help them to meet their compliance requirements. Here’s a small sample from our customer base:

Federal (US) GovernmentDepartment of Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration 18F (Digital Services Delivery), NASA JPL, Defense Digital Service, United States Air Force, United States Department of Justice.

Regulated IndustriesCSRA, Talen Energy, Cobham Electronics.

SaaS and Solution ProvidersFIGmd, Blackboard, Splunk, GitHub, Motorola.

Federal, state, and local agencies that want to move their existing applications to the AWS Cloud can take advantage of the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) offered by AWS Professional Services.

Jeff;

 

 

European Astro Pi: Mission complete

Post Syndicated from David Honess original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/european-astro-pi-mission-complete/

In October last year, with the European Space Agency and CNES, we launched the first ever European Astro Pi challenge. We asked students from all across Europe to write code for the flight of French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Proxima mission.

The winners were announced back in March, and since then their code has been uploaded to the ISS and run in space!

Thomas Pesquet aboard the ISS with the Astro Pi units

French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet with the Astro Pi units. Image credit ESA.

Code from 64 student teams ran between 28 April and 10 May, supervised by Thomas, in the European Columbus module.

Astro Pi on Twitter

We can confirm student programs are finished, results are downloaded from @Space_Station and teams will receive their​ data by next week 🛰️📡

On 10 May the results, data, and log files were downloaded to the ground, and the following week they were emailed back to the student teams for analysis.

Ecole St-André d’E on Twitter

On vient de recevoir les données enregistrées par nos codes #python depuis l’ #iss @CNES @astro_pi @Thom_astro . Reste à analyser tout ça!

We’ve looked at the results, and we can see that many of the teams have been successful in their missions: congratulations to all of you! We look forward to reading your write-ups and blogs.

In pictures

In a surprise turn of events, we learnt that Thomas set up a camera to take regular pictures of the Astro Pi units for one afternoon. This was entirely voluntary on his part and was not scheduled as part of the mission. Thank you so much, Thomas!

Some lucky teams have some very nice souvenirs from the ISS. Here are a couple of them:

Astro Pi units on the ISS photographed by Thomas Pesquet

Juvara team – Italy (left) and South London Raspberry Jam – UK (right). Image credit ESA.

Astro Pi units on the ISS photographed by Thomas Pesquet

Astro Team – Italy (left) and AstroShot – Greece (right). Image credit ESA.

Until next time…

This brings the 2016/17 European Astro Pi challenge to a close. We would like to thank all the students and teachers who participated; the ESA Education, Integration and Implementation, Ground Systems, and Flight Control teams; BioTesc (ESA’s user operations control centre for Astro Pi); and especially Thomas Pesquet himself.

Thomas and Russian Soyuz commander Oleg Novitskiy return to Earth today, concluding their six-month stay on the ISS. After a three-hour journey in their Soyuz spacecraft, they will land in the Kazakh steppe at approximately 15:09 this afternoon. You can watch coverage of the departure, re-entry, and landing on NASA TV.

Astro Pi has been a hugely enjoyable project to work on, and we hope to be back in the new school year (2017-18) with brand-new challenges for teachers and students.

 

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