Tag Archives: space

Q&A with NASA engineers behind Raspberry Pi–powered ISS Mimic

Post Syndicated from NASA Engineers original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/qa-with-nasa-engineers-behind-raspberry-pi-powered-iss-mimic/

Did you see the coolest International Space Station (ISS) on Earth on the blog last week? ISS Mimic is powered by Raspberry Pi, mirrors exactly what the real ISS is doing in orbit, and was built by NASA engineers to make the ISS feel more real for Earth-bound STEAM enthusiasts.

Here’s (most of) the team behind ISS Mimic

The team launched ISS Mimic in celebration of 20 years of continuous human presence in space on the ISS. And they’ve been getting lots of questions since we posted about their creation so, we asked them back to fill you in with a quick Q&A.

And here are newbies Dallas and Estefannie (Estefannie made the ISS Mimic video)

1. Since this is NASA-related, “MIMIC” must be an acronym, right?

Yes, we forced one: “Mechatronic Instantiated Model, Interactively Controlled”

2. What’s your subtitle? 

“The second-most complicated International Space Station ever made”. We also like “1/100th scale for 1/100,000,000th cost”

3. Wait, are US tax dollars paying for you to make this?

No, it’s a volunteer project, but we do get lots of support. It’s done on our own time and money — though many NASA types and others have kicked in to help buy materials. 

ISS Mimic, filmed by YouTube’s finest Estefannie Explains it All

4. So you have supporters?

Yes — mostly other organisations that we have teamed up with. We partner with a non-profit makerspace near NASA, Creatorspace, for tools, materials, and outreach. And an awesome local 3D printer manufacturer, re:3D, has joined us and printed our (large) solar panels for free, and is helping to refine our models. They are also working towards making a kit of parts for sale for those who don’t have a printer or the time to print all the pieces, with a discount for educators.

Particularly helpful has been Space Center Houston (NASA’s visitor center), who invited us to present to the public and at an educator conference (pre-COVID), and allowed us to spend a full day filming in their beautiful facility. Our earliest supporter was Boeing, who we‘ve worked with to facilitate outreach to educators and students from the start.

The real International Space Station (ISS) in orbit

5. How long have you been working on this?

5 years — a looong time. We spent much effort early on to establish the scale and feasibility and test the capabilities of 3D printing. We maintained a hard push to keep the materials cost down and reduce build time/complexity for busy educators. We always knew we’d use Raspberry Pi for the brain, but were looking for less costly options for the mechatronics. We’d still like to cut the cost down a lot to make the project more attainable for lower-income schools and individuals.

6. Have you done any outreach so far?

All of the support has allowed us to take our prototype to schools and STEM events locally. But we really want this to be built around the world to reach those who don’t have much connection to space exploration and hands-on STEM. The big build is probably most suitable for teens and adults, while the alternative builds (in-work) would be much more approachable for younger students.

‘ISS Mimic’ on display

7. So, this just for schools? 

No, not at all. Our focus is to make it viable for schools/educators — in cost and build complexity — but we want any space nerd to be able to build their own and help drive the design.

8. Biggest challenge?

Gravity. And time to work on the project… and trying to keep the cost down.

9. What about a Lunar Gateway or Habitat version of ISS Mimic?

It’s on our radar! Another build that’s screaming to be made is hacking the LEGO ISS model (released this year) to rotate its joints and light LEDs.

Raspberry Pi on the real ISS

There are two Raspberry Pi computers aboard the real ISS right now! And even better, young people have the chance to write Python code that will run on them — IN SPACE — as part of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

Tell the young space enthusiast in your life about Astro Pi to inspire them to try coding! All the info lives at astro-pi.org.

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Mars Clock

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/mars-clock/

A sci-fi writer wanted to add some realism to his fiction. The result: a Raspberry Pi-based Martian timepiece. Rosie Hattersley clocks in from the latest issue of The MagPi Magazine.

The Mars Clock project is adapted from code Phil wrote in JavaScript and a Windows environment for Raspberry Pi

Ever since he first clapped eyes on Mars through the eyepiece of a telescope, Philip Ide has been obsessed with the Red Planet. He’s written several books based there and, many moons ago, set up a webpage showing the weather on Mars. This summer, Phil adapted his weather monitor and created a Raspberry Pi-powered Mars Clock.

Mission: Mars

After writing several clocks for his Mars Weather page, Phil wanted to make a physical clock: “something that could sit on my desk or such like, and tell the time on Mars.” It was to tell the time at any location on Mars, with presets for interesting locations “plus the sites of all the missions that made it to the surface – whether they pancaked or not.”

The projects runs on a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 with official 7-inch touchscreen

Another prerequisite was that the clock had to check for new mission file updates and IERS bulletins to see if a new leap second had been factored into Universal Coordinated Time.

“Martian seconds are longer,” explains Phil, “so everything was pointing at software rather than a mechanical device. Raspberry Pi was a shoo-in for the job”. However, he’d never used one.

“I’d written some software for calculating orbits and one of the target platforms was Raspberry Pi. I’d never actually seen it run on a Raspberry Pi but I knew it worked, so the door was already open.” He was able to check his data against a benchmark NASA provided. Knowing that the clocks on his Mars Weather page were accurate meant that Phil could focus on getting to grips with his new single-board computer.

Phil’s Mars Weather page shows seasonal trends since March 2019.

He chose a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 and official-inch touchscreen with a SmartiPi Touch 2 case. “Angles are everything,” he reasons. He also added a fan to lower the CPU temperature and extend the hardware’s life. Along with a power lead, the whole setup cost £130 from The Pi Hut.

Since his Mars Clock generates a lot of data, he made it skinnable so the user can choose which pieces of information to view at any one time. It can display two types of map – Viking or MOLA – depending on the co-ordinates for the clock. NASA provides a web map-tile service with many different data sets for Mars, so it should be possible to make the background an interactive map, allowing you to zoom in/out and scroll around. Getting these to work proved rather a headache as he hit incompatibilities with the libraries.

Learn through experience

Phil wrote most of the software himself, with the exception of libraries for the keyboard and FTP which he pulled from GitHub. Here’s all the code.

The Mars Clock’s various skins show details of missions to Mars, as well as the location’s time and date

He used JavaScript running on the Node.js/Electron framework. “This made for rapid development and is cross-platform, so I could write and test it on Windows and then move it to the Raspberry Pi,” he says. With the basic code written, Phil set about paring it back, reducing the number and duration of CPU time-slices the clock needed when running. “I like optimised software,” he explains.

His decades as a computer programmer meant other aspects were straightforward. The hardware is more than capable, he says of his first ever experience of Raspberry Pi, and the SmartiPi case makers had done a brilliant job. Everything fit together and in just a few minutes his Raspberry Pi was working.

The SmartiPi Touch 2 case houses Raspberry Pi 4 and a fan to cool its CPU

Since completing his Mars Clock Phil has added a pi-hole and a NAS to his Raspberry Pi setup and says his confidence using them is such that he’s now contemplating challenging himself to build an orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system). “I have decades of programming experience, but I was still learning new things as the project progressed,” he says. “The nerd factor of any given object increases exponentially if you make it yourself.”

The MagPi Magazine | Issue 99

Check out page 26 in the latest issue of The MagPi Magazine for a step-by-step and to learn more about the maker, Phillip. You can read a PDF copy for free on The MagPi Magazine website if you’re not already a subscriber.

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ISS Mimic: A Raspberry Pi-powered International Space Station model that syncs with the real thing

Post Syndicated from NASA Engineers original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/iss-mimic-a-raspberry-pi-powered-international-space-station-model-that-syncs-with-the-real-thing/

A group of us NASA engineers work on the International Space Station (ISS) for our day-jobs but craved something more tangible than computer models and data curves to share with the world. So, in our free time, we built ISS Mimic. It’s still in the works, but we are publishing now to celebrate 20 years of continuous human presence in space on the ISS. 

Here’s the latest version of ISS Mimic, filmed by YouTube’s finest Estefannie Explains it All

This video was filmed and produced by our friend, new teammate, and Raspberry Pi regular Estefannie of Estefannie Explains it All. Most of the images in this blog are screen grabbed from her wonderful video too.

What does Mimic do?

One of the first versions of ISS Mimic at a public event at the Space Center in Houston, before 3D printed parts saved the day

ISS Mimic is a 1% scale model of the International Space Station, bringing the American football field-sized beauty down to a tabletop-sized build. Most elements in the final version of the build which you see in the video are 3D printed — even the solar arrays. It has 12 motors: 10 to control the solar panels and two to turn the thermal radiators. All of these are fed by live data streaming from the ISS, so what you see on ISS Mimic is what’s happening that very moment on the real deal up in space.  

Physical connection

Lunch onboard the real ISS

Despite the global ISS effort, most people seem to feel disconnected from space exploration and all the STEAM goodness within. Beyond headlines and rocket launches, even space enthusiasts may feel out of touch. Most of what is available is via apps and videos, which are great, but miss the physical aspect.

Some of the team showing off the earliest version of their homage to the ISS

ISS Mimic is intended to provide an earthbound, tangible connection to that so-close-but-so-far-away orbiting science platform. We want space excitement to fuel STEAM interest.

Raspberry Pi brains and Braun

As you may have guessed, a Raspberry Pi is the brain of the business.  Raspberry Pi taps into NASA’s public ISS live data stream to parse the telemetry into the bits we want. There’s JavaScript and tons of Python, including Kivy for the graphics.

A screen grab of the home screen for the mimic program
The main screen for the Mimic program

Users toggle through various touchscreen data displays of things like battery charge states, electrical power generated, joint angles, communication dish status, gyroscope torques, and even airlock air pressure — fun to watch prior to a spacewalk!

The user can also touchscreen-activate the physical model, in which case Raspberry Pi sends the telemetry along to Arduinos, which in turn command motors in the model to do their thing, rotating the solar panels and thermal radiators to the proper angle. The solar panel joints use compact geared DC motors with Hall-effect sensors for feedback. The sensor signals are sent back down to the Arduino, which keeps track of the position of each joint compared to ISS telemetry, and updates motor command accordingly to stay in sync. 

A diagram of the International Space Station tracking its speed
Some of the data Raspberry Pi can receive

The thermal radiator motors are simpler. Since they only rotate about 180° total, a simple RC micro servo is utilised with the desired position sent from an Arduino directly from the Raspberry Pi data stream.

When MIMIC is in ‘live mode’, the motor commands are the exact data stream coming from ISS. This is a fun mode to leave it in for long durations when it’s in the corner of the room. But it changes slowly, so we also include advanced playback, where prior orbit data stored on Raspberry Pi is played back at 60× speed. A regular 90-minute orbit profile can be played back in 90 seconds.

A diagram of the International Space Station orbit tracker
Tracking the ISS orbit

We also have ‘disco mode’, which may have been birthed during lack of sleep, but now we plan to utilise it whenever we want to grab attention — such as to alert users that the ISS is flying overhead.

LED addiction

We may have a mild LED addiction, and we have LEDs embedded where the ISS batteries would live at the base of the solar arrays. They change colour with the charge voltage, so we can tell by watching them when the ISS is going into Earth’s shadow, or when the batteries are fully charged, etc.

That doesn’t look like TOO many LEDs to us…

A few times when we were working on the model and the LEDs suddenly changed, we thought we had bumped something. But it turned out the first array was edging behind Earth. These are fun to watch during spacewalks, and the model gives us advanced notice that the crew is about to be in darkness.

We plan to cram more LEDs in to react to other data. The project is open source, so anyone can build one and improve the design — help wanted!  After all, the ISS itself is a worldwide collaboration with 19 countries participating by providing components and crew. 

Chaotic wire management

The solar panels on the ISS are mounted on what’s known as the ‘outboard truss’ — one each on the Port and Starboard ends of ISS. Everything on the outboard truss rotates together as part of the sun-tracking (in addition to each solar array rotating individually). So, you can’t just run the power/signal wires through the interface or they would twist and break. ISS Mimic has the same issue.

A closer look at the newest ISS Mimic’s mini solar panels

Even though our solar panels don’t generate power, their motors still require power and signals. The ISS has a specialised, unique build; but fortunately we were able to solve our problem with a simple slip ring design sourced from Amazon. 

So twisty. So shiny. So tricky to manage cables for.

Wire management turned out to be a big issue for us. We had bird nests in several places early on (still present on the Port side solar), so we created some custom PCBs just for wire management, to keep the chaos down. We incorporated HDMI connectors and cables in some places to provide nice shielding and convenient sized coupling — actually a bit more compact than the Ethernet we’d used before.  

The real ISS flexing its power-generating solar panels in space

Also, those solar panels are huge, and the mechanism that supports the outboard truss (everything on the sides that rotate together) on the ISS includes a massive 10 foot diameter bull gear called the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint. A pinion gear from a motor interfaces with this gear to turn it as needed.

Some of the 3D printed parts for the latest iteration of the build

We were pleasantly surprised that our 3D-printed bull gear held up quite well with a similar pinion-driven design. Overall, our 3D prints have survived better than expected. We are revamping most models to include more detail, and we could certainly use help here.

Education focus

Our sights are set firmly on educators as our primary area of focus, and we’ve been excited to partner with Space Center Houston to speak at public events and a space exploration educator conference with international attendance earlier this year.

Team ISS Mimic at STEM outreach during the first Robotics National Championship

The feedback has been encouraging and enlightening. We want to keep getting feedback from educators, so please provide more insights by either commenting on this blog or via the contact info listed at the bottom. 

NASA Mission Control — failure is actually an option… sometimes

A highlight for the team was when the ISS Mimic prototype was requested to live for a month in NASA’s Mission Control Center and was synced to live data during an historic spacewalk. Mimic experienced an ‘anomaly’ when a loose wire caused one of the solar panel motors to spin at 100× the normal rate. 

Our tiny computer with the ISS Mimic’s control panel

You’ll be happy to know that none of the engineering professionals were fooled into thinking the real ISS was doing time-trials. Did I mention it’s still a work in progress? You can’t be scared of failure (for non-critical applications!), particularly when developing something brand-new. It’s part of shaking out problems and learning.

Space exploration has an exciting Future

Showing off ISS Mimic during a STEM outreach event at the Space Center in Houston

It’s an exciting time in human and robotic spaceflight, with lots of budding projects and new organisations joining the effort. This feels like a great time to deepen our connection to this great progress, and we hope ISS Mimic can help us to do that, as well as encourage more students to play in coding, mechatronics, and STEAM.

Shoutouts and social

Hi to [most of] Team ISS Mimic!

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

One of the best parts of this project has been teaming up with organisations to share the love. We partner with a non-profit makerspace near NASA called Creatorspace, for tools, materials, and outreach.  And an awesome local 3D printer manufacturer, re:3D, has joined us to print some of our larger components for free and is helping to refine our models.  Space Center Houston (NASA’s visitor centre) invited us to present to the public and at an educator conference, and generously allowed us to spend a full day filming in their beautiful facility.   Our earliest supporter was Boeing, who we’ve worked with to facilitate outreach to educators and students from the start.  And of course we are thankful to NASA for providing the public data stream that makes the project possible.

Astro Pi

Did you know that there are Raspberry Pi computers aboard the real ISS that young people can run their own Python programs on? Find out more at astro-pi.org.

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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.

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How young people can run their computer programs in space with Astro Pi

Post Syndicated from Claire Given original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/how-young-people-run-computer-programs-in-space-astro-pi/

Do you know young people who dream of sending something to space? You can help them make that dream a reality!

We’re calling on educators, club leaders, and parents to inspire young people to develop their digital skills by participating in this year’s European Astro Pi Challenge.

The European Astro Pi Challenge, which we run in collaboration with the European Space Agency, gives young people in 26 countries* the opportunity to write their own computer programs and run them on two special Raspberry Pi units — called Astro Pis! — on board the International Space Station (ISS).

This year’s Astro Pi ambassador is ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. Thomas will accompany our Astro Pis on the ISS and oversee young people’s programs while they run.

And the young people need your support to take part in the Astro Pi Challenge!

A group of young people and educators smiling while engaging with a computer

Astro Pi is back big-time!

The Astro Pi Challenge is back and better than ever, with a brand-new website, a cool new look, and the chance for more young people to get involved.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge

During the last challenge, a record 6558 Astro Pi programs from over 17,000 young people ran on the ISS, and we want even more young people to take part in our new 2020/21 challenge.

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake was the ambassador of the first Astro Pi Challenge in 2015.

So whether your children or learners are complete beginners to programming or have experience of Python coding, we’d love for them to take part!

You and your young people have two Astro Pi missions to choose from: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab.

Mission Zero — for beginners and younger programmers

In Mission Zero, young people write a simple program to take a humidity reading onboard the ISS and communicate it to the astronauts with a personalised message, which will be displayed for 30 seconds.

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

Mission Zero is designed for beginners and younger participants up to 14 years old. Young people can complete Mission Zero online in about an hour following a step-by-step guide. Taking part doesn’t require any previous coding experience or specific hardware.

All Mission Zero participants who follow the simple challenge rules are guaranteed to have their programs run aboard the ISS in 2021.

All you need to do is support the young people to submit their programs!

Mission Zero is a perfect activity for beginners to digital making and Python programming, whether they’re young people at home or in coding clubs, or groups of students or club participants.

We have made some exciting changes to this year’s Mission Zero challenge:

  1. Participants will be measuring humidity on the ISS instead of temperature
  2. For the first time, young people can enter individually, as well as in teams of up to 4 people

You have until 19 March 2021 to support your young people to submit their Mission Zero programs!

Mission Space Lab — for young people with programming experience

In Mission Space Lab, teams of young people design and program a scientific experiment to run for 3 hours onboard the ISS.

Logo of Mission Space Lab, part of the European Astro Pi Challenge

Mission Space Lab is aimed at more experienced or older participants up to 19 years old, and it takes place in 4 phases over the course of 8 months.

Your role in Mission Space Lab is to mentor a team of participants while they design and write a program for a scientific experiment that increases our understanding of either life on Earth or life in space.

The best experiments will be deployed to the ISS, and teams will have the opportunity to analyse their experimental data and report on their results.

You have until 23 October 2020 to register your team and their experiment idea.

To see the kind of experiments young people have run on the ISS, check out our blog post congratulating the Mission Space Lab 2019/20 winners!

Get started with Astro Pi today!

To find out more about taking part in the European Astro Pi Challenge 2020/21, head over to our new and improved astro-pi.org website.

screenshot of Astro Pi home page

There, you’ll find everything you need to get started on sending young people’s computer program to space!


* ESA Member States in 2020: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia, and the United Kingdom. Other participating states: Canada, Latvia, Slovenia, Malta.

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Amazing science from the winners of Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2019–20

Post Syndicated from Claire Given original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/winners-astro-pi-mission-space-lab-2019-20/

The team at Raspberry Pi and our partner ESA Education are pleased to announce the winning and highly commended Mission Space Lab teams of the 2019–20 European Astro Pi Challenge!

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo

Mission Space Lab sees teams of young people across Europe design, create, and deploy experiments running on Astro Pi computers aboard the International Space Station. Their final task: analysing the experiments’ results and sending us scientific reports highlighting their methods, results, and conclusions.

One of the Astro Pi computers aboard the International Space Station
One of the Astro Pi computers aboard the International Space Station

The science teams performed was truly impressive, and the reports teams sent us were of outstanding quality. A special round of applause to the teams for making the effort to coordinate writing their reports socially distant!

The Astro Pi jury has now selected the ten winning teams, as well as eight highly commended teams:

And our winners are…

Vidhya’s code from the UK aimed to answer the question of how a compass works on the ISS, using the Astro Pi computer’s magnetometer and data from the World Magnetic Model (WMM).

Unknown from Externato Cooperativo da Benedita, Portugal, aptly investigated whether influenza is transmissible on a spacecraft such as the ISS, using the Astro Pi hardware alongside a deep literature review.

Space Wombats from Institut d’Altafulla, Spain, used normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) analysis to identify burn scars from forest fires. They even managed to get results over Chernobyl!

Liberté from Catmose College, UK, set out to prove the Coriolis Effect by using Sobel filtering methods to identify the movement and direction of clouds.

Pardubice Pi from SPŠE a VOŠ Pardubice, Czech Republic, found areas of enormous vegetation loss by performing NDVI analysis on images taken from the Astro Pi and comparing this with historic images of the location.

NDVI conversion image by Pardubice Pi team – Astro Pi Mission Space Lab experiment
NDVI conversion image by Pardubice Pi team

Reforesting Entrepreneurs from Canterbury School of Gran Canaria, Spain, want to help solve the climate crisis by using NDVI analysis to identify locations where reforestation is possible.

1G5-Boys from Lycée Raynouard, France, innovatively conducted spectral analysis using Fast Fourier Transforms to study low-frequency vibrations of the ISS.

Cloud4 from Escola Secundária de Maria, Portugal, masterfully used a simplified static model and Fourier Analysis to detect atmospheric gravity waves (AGWs).

Cloud Wizzards from Primary School no. 48, Poland, scanned the sky to determine what percentage of the seas and oceans are covered by clouds.

Aguere Team 1 from IES Marina Cebrián, Spain, probed the behaviour of the magnetic field, acceleration, and temperature on the ISS by investigating disturbances, variations with latitude, and temporal changes.

Highly commended teams

Creative Coders, from the UK, decided to see how much of the Earth’s water is stored in clouds by analysing the pixels of each image of Earth their experiment collected.

Astro Jaslo from I Liceum Ogólnokształcące króla Stanisława Leszczyńskiego w Jaśle, Poland, used Reimann geometry to determine the angle between light from the sun that is perpendicular to the Astro Pi camera, and the line segment from the ISS to Earth’s centre.

Jesto from S.M.S Arduino I.C.Ivrea1, Italy, used a multitude of the Astro Pi computers’ capabilities to study NDVI, magnetic fields, and aerosol mapping.

BLOOMERS from Tudor Vianu National Highschool of Computer Science, Romania, investigated how algae blooms are affected by eutrophication in polluted areas.

AstroLorenzini from Liceo Statale C. Lorenzini, Italy used Kepler’s third law to determine the eccentricity, apogee, perigee, and mean tangential velocity of the ISS.

Photo of Italy, Calabria and Sicilia by AstroLorenzi team — Astro Pi Mission Space Lab experiment
Photo of Italy, Calabria and Sicilia (notice volcano Etna on the top right-hand corner) captured by the AstroLorenzi team

EasyPeasyCoding Verdala FutureAstronauts from Verdala International School & EasyPeasyCoding, Malta, utilised machine learning to differentiate between cloud types.

BHTeamEL from Branksome Hall, Canada, processed images using Y of YCbCr colour mode data to investigate the relationship between cloud type and luminescence.

Space Kludgers from Technology Club of Thrace, STETH, Greece, identified how atmospheric emissions correlate to population density, as well as using NDVI, ECCAD, and SEDAC to analyse the correlation of vegetation health and abundance with anthropogenic emissions.

The teams get a Q&A with astronaut Luca Parmitano

The prize for the winners and highly commended teams is the chance to pose their questions to ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano! The teams have been asked to record a question on video, which Luca will answer during a live stream on 3 September.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano aboard the International Space Station
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano aboard the International Space Station

This Q&A event for the finalists will conclude this year’s European Astro Pi Challenge. Everyone on the Raspberry Pi and ESA Education teams congratulates this year’s participants on all their efforts.

It’s been a phenomenal year for the Astro Pi challenge: team performed some great science, and across Mission Space Lab and Mission Zero, an astronomical 16998 young people took part, from all ESA member states as well as Slovenia, Canada, and Malta.

Congratulations to everyone who took part!

Get excited for your next challenge!

This year’s European Astro Pi Challenge is almost over, and the next edition is just around the corner!

Compilation of photographs of Earth, taken by Astro Pi Izzy aboard the ISS
Compilation of photographs of Earth taken by an Astro Pi computer

So we invite school teachers, educators, students, and all young people who love coding and space science to join us from September onwards.

Follow our updates on astro-pi.org and social media to make sure you don’t miss any announcements. We will see you for next year’s European Astro Pi Challenge!

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Galactic coding with Digital Making at Home!

Post Syndicated from Kevin Johnson original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/galactic-coding-with-digital-making-at-home/

Join us for Digital Making at Home: this week, young people can do out-of-this-world coding with our space-themed projects! Through Digital Making at Home, we invite kids all over the world to code along with us and our new videos every week.

So get ready to do some galactic coding with us:

Check out this week’s code-along projects!

And tune in on Wednesday 2pm BST / 9am EDT / 7.30pm IST at rpf.io/home to code along with our live stream session!

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Kaleidoscopic space art made with Raspberry Pi onboard the ISS

Post Syndicated from Ashley Whittaker original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/kaleidoscopic-space-art-made-with-raspberry-pi-onboard-the-iss/

What could be the world’s first interactive art experiment in space is powered by Raspberry Pi!

The experiment, named Pulse/Hydra 3, features a kaleidoscope (as seen in the video) that lights up and starts to rotate after it receives heartbeat data from its ground terminal. This artistic experiment is designed to inspire people back on Earth.

Look closely at the video and you should be able to see small beads floating around in microgravity.

During scheduled events at museum and galleries, participants use a specially designed terminal fitted with a pulse oximeter to measure their pulse rate and blood oxygenation level. These measurements are transmitted in real time to the Pulse/Hydra 3 payload on the ISS, which is activated by the transmission.

Inside the payload, there’s a specially designed ‘microgravity kaleidoscope’. The transmitted data activates the kaleidoscope, and the resulting live images are securely streamed back to the ground terminal. The images are then projected onto large video screens so the whole audience can watch what is happening in orbit. The artistic idea is that both pulse rate and blood oxygenation levels are highly transient physiological characteristics that respond rapidly to conscious and sub-conscious emotional states. Therefore, there is a complex interaction between the participant and the payload, as both react to each other during the experience.

We wouldn’t have been able to achieve things like that on dial-up internet.

Where does it live?

Pulse/Hydra 3 is currently installed aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in the ESA Columbus module. The Columbus laboratory is ESA’s biggest single contribution to the ISS. The 4.5 m diameter cylindrical module of 6.9 m in length is equipped with flexible research facilities and provides accommodation for experiments in the field of multidisciplinary research into material science, fluid physics, and life science.

Artist's cut-away view of the Columbus module elements (image credit: ESA)

Artist’s cut-away view of the Columbus module elements (image credit: ESA)

This payload was launched on 29 June 2018 and it will be completing its two years in orbit soon.

More Raspberry Pi experiments in space

Pulse/Hydra 3 is, you guessed it, the third in a series of experiments run on board the Columbus module. The other two are:

  • Hydra-1, a plant growth experiment.
  • Hydra-2, a methanogenesis experiment exploring gravity’s effect on bacteria.

And Hydra-3 is the interactive art payload you’ve just read about. It lives in the same rack that used to house Hydra-1 and -2. All three run on Raspberry Pi!

Hydra-1, Hydra-2, and Hydra-3, all running on Raspberry Pi

These three payloads are of course great companions to our Astro Pi computers, which allow thousands of young people every year to run their code in space!

Place your bets on the year the first Raspberry Pi shop opens on the Moon…

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How you, an adult, can take part in the European Astro Pi Challenge

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/how-you-an-adult-take-part-in-european-astro-pi-challenge/

So, yesterday we announced the launch of the 2019/2020 European Astro Pi Challenge, and adults across the globe groaned with jealousy as a result. It’s OK, we did too.

The Astro Pi Challenge is the coolest thing ever

The European Astro Pi Challenge is ridiculously cool. It’s definitely one of the most interesting, awesome, spectacular uses of a Raspberry Pi in the known universe. Two Raspberry Pis in stellar, space-grade aluminium cases are currently sat aboard the International Space Station, waiting for students in ESA Member States to write code to run on them to take part in the Astro Pi Challenge.

But what if, like us, you’re too old to take part in the challenge? How can you get that great sense of space wonderment when you’re no longer at school?

You’re never too old…even when you’re too old

If you’re too old to take part in the challenge, it means you’re old enough to be a team mentor. Team mentors are responsible for helping students navigate the Astro Pi Challenge, ensuring that everyone is where they’re meant to be, doing what they’re meant to be doing. You’ll also also the contact between the team and us, Raspberry Pi and ESA. You’re basically a team member.

You’re basically taking part.

Mission Zero requires no coding knowledge

Mission Zero requires very little of its participants:

  • They don’t need to have any prior knowledge of coding
  • They don’t need a Raspberry Pi

And while they need an adult to supervise them, said adult doesn’t need any coding experience either.

(Spoiler alert: you’re said adult.)

Instead, you just need an hour to sit down with your team at a computer and work through some directions. And the result? Your team’s completed code will run aboard the International Space Station, and they’ll get a certificate to prove it.

You really have no excuse

If you live in an ESA Member State and know anyone aged 14 years or younger, there is absolutely no reason for them not to take part in Astro Pi Mission Zero. And, since they’re probably not reading this blog post right now, it’s your responsibility to tell them about Astro Pi. This is how you take part in the European Astro Pi Challenge: you become the bearer of amazing news when you sit your favourite kids down and tell them they’re going to be writing code that will run on the International Space Station…IN SPACE!

To find out more about Mission Zero, click here. We want to see you pledging your support to your favourite non-adults, so make sure to tell us you’re going to be taking part by leaving a comment below.

There really is no excuse.

 

 

*ESA Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Residents of Slovenia, Canada, or Malta can also take part.

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Run your code aboard the International Space Station with Astro Pi

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/run-your-code-aboard-the-international-space-station-with-astro-pi/

Each year, the European Astro Pi Challenge allows students and young people in ESA Member States (or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta) to write code for their own experiments, which could run on two Raspberry Pi units aboard the International Space Station.

The Astro Pi Challenge is a lot of fun, it’s about space, and so that we in the Raspberry Pi team don’t have to miss out despite being adults, many of us mentor their own Astro Pi teams — and you should too!

So, gather your team, stock up on freeze-dried ice cream, and let’s do it again: the European Astro Pi Challenge 2019/2020 launches today!

Luca Parmitano launches the 2019-20 European Astro Pi Challenge

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is this year’s ambassador of the European Astro Pi Challenge. In this video, he welcomes students to the challenge and gives an overview of the project. Learn more about Astro Pi: http://bit.ly/AstroPiESA ★ Subscribe: http://bit.ly/ESAsubscribe and click twice on the bell button to receive our notifications.

The European Astro Pi Challenge 2019/2020 is made up of two missions: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab.

Astro Pi Mission Zero

Mission Zero has been designed for beginners/younger participants up to 14 years old and can be completed in a single session. It’s great for coding clubs or any groups of students don’t have coding experience but still want to do something cool — because having confirmation that code you wrote has run aboard the International Space Station is really, really cool! Teams write a simple Python program to display a message and temperature reading on an Astro Pi computer, for the astronauts to see as they go about their daily tasks on the ISS. No special hardware or prior coding skills are needed, and all teams that follow the challenge rules are guaranteed to have their programs run in space!

Astro Pi Mission Zero logo

Mission Zero eligibility

  • Participants must be no older than 14 years
  • 2 to 4 people per team
  • Participants must be supervised by a teacher, mentor, or educator, who will be the point of contact with the Astro Pi team
  • Teams must be made up of at least 50% team members who are citizens of an ESA Member* State, or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab

Mission Space Lab is aimed at more experienced/older participants up to 19 years old, and it takes place in 4 phases over the course of 8 months. The challenge is to design and write a program for a scientific experiment to be run on an Astro Pi computer. The best experiments will be deployed to the ISS, and teams will have the opportunity to analyse and report on their results.

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo

Mission Space Lab eligibility

  • Participants must be no older than 19 years
  • 2 to 6 people per team
  • Participants must be supervised by a teacher, mentor, or educator, who will be the point of contact with the Astro Pi team
  • Teams must be made up of at least 50% team members who are citizens of an ESA Member State*, or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta

How to plan your Astro Pi Mission Space Lab experiment

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

For both missions, each member of the team has to be at least one of the following:

  • Enrolled full-time in a primary or secondary school in an ESA Member State, or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta
  • Homeschooled (certified by the National Ministry of Education or delegated authority in an ESA Member State or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta)
  • A member of a club or after-school group (such as Code Club, CoderDojo, or Scouts) located in an ESA Member State*, or Slovenia, Canada, or Malta

Take part

To take part in the European Astro Pi Challenge, head over to the Astro Pi website, where you’ll find more information on how to get started getting your team’s code into SPACE!

Obligatory photo of Raspberry Pis floating in space!

*ESA Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

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Raspberry Pi in space!

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/raspberry-pi-in-space/

We love ‘Raspberry Pi + space’ stuff. There, I’ve said it. No taksies backsies.

From high-altitude balloon projects transporting Raspberry Pis to near space, to our two Astro Pi units living aboard the International Space Station, we simply can’t get enough.

Seriously, if you’ve created anything space-related using a Raspberry Pi, please tell us!

Capturing Earth from low orbit

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) sent a Raspberry Pi Zero to space as part of their Demonstration of Technology (DoT-1) satellite, launched aboard a Soyuz rocket in July.

Earth captured from Low Earth Orbit by a Raspberry Pi

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the #RaspberryPi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

So, not that we’re complaining, but why did they send the Raspberry Pi Zero to space to begin with? Well, why not? As SSTL state:

Whilst the primary objective of the 17.5kg self-funded DoT-1 satellite is to demonstrate SSTL’s new Core Data Handling System (Core-DHS), accommodation was made available for some additional experimental payloads including the Raspberry Pi camera experiment which was designed and implemented in conjunction with the Surrey Space Centre.

Essentially, if you can fit a Raspberry Pi into your satellite, you should.


Managing Director of SSTL Sarah Parker went on to say that “the success of the Raspberry Pi camera experiment is an added bonus which we can now evaluate for future missions where it could be utilised for spacecraft ‘selfies’ to check the operation of key equipments, and also for outreach activities.”

SSTL’s very snazzy-looking Demonstration of Technology (DoT-1) satellite

The onboard Raspberry Pi Zero was equipped with a Raspberry Pi Camera Module and a DesignSpark M12 Mount Lens. Image data captured on the space-bound Raspberry Pi was sent back to the SSTL ground station via the Core-DHS.

So, have you sent a Raspberry Pi to space? Or anywhere else we wouldn’t expect a Raspberry Pi to go? Let us know in the comments!

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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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European Astro Pi Challenge: Mission Space Lab winners 2018–2019!

Post Syndicated from Olympia Brown original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/european-astro-pi-challenge-mission-space-lab-winners-2018-2019/

This is your periodic reminder that there are two Raspberry Pi computers in space! That’s right — our Astro Pi units Ed and Izzy have called the International Space Station home since 2016, and we are proud to work with ESA Education to run the European Astro Pi Challenge, which allows students to conduct scientific investigations in space, by writing computer programs.

Astro PI IR on ISS

An Astro Pi takes photos of the earth from the window of the International Space Station

The Challenge has two missions: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab. The more advanced one, Mission Space Lab, invites teams of students and young people under 19 years of age to enter by submitting an idea for a scientific experiment to be run on the Astro Pi units.

ESA and the Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to congratulate all the teams that participated in the European Astro Pi Challenge this year. A record-breaking number of more than 15000 people, from all 22 ESA Member States as well as Canada, Slovenia, and Malta, took part in this year’s challenge across both Mission Space Lab and Mission Zero!

Eleven teams have won Mission Space Lab 2018–2019

After designing their own scientific investigations and having their programs run aboard the International Space Station, the Mission Space Lab teams spent their time analysed the data they received back from the ISS. To complete the challenge, they had to submit a short scientific report discuss their results and highlight the conclusions of their experiments. We were very impressed by the quality of the reports, which showed a high level of scientific merit.

We are delighted to announce that, while it was a difficult task, the Astro Pi jury has now selected eleven winning teams, as well as highly commending four additional teams. The eleven winning teams won the chance to join an exclusive video call with ESA astronaut Frank De Winne. He is the head of the European Astronaut Centre in Germany, where astronauts train for their missions. Each team had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to ask Frank about his life as an astronaut.

And the winners are…

Firewatchers from Post CERN HSSIP Group, Portugal, used a machine learning method on their images to identify areas that had recently suffered from wildfires.

Go, 3.141592…, Go! from IES Tomás Navarro Tomás, Spain, took pictures of the Yosemite and Lost River forests and analysed them to study the effects of global drought stress. They did this by using indexes of vegetation and moisture to assess whether forests are healthy and well-preserved.

Les Robotiseurs from Ecole Primaire Publique de Saint-André d’Embrun, France, investigated variations in Earth’s magnetic field between the North and South hemispheres, and between day and night.

TheHappy.Pi from I Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Bolesława Krzywoustego w Słupsku, Poland, successfully processed their images to measure the relative chlorophyll concentrations of vegetation on Earth.

AstroRussell from Liceo Bertrand Russell, Italy, developed a clever image processing algorithm to classify images into sea, cloud, ice, and land categories.

Les Puissants 2.0 from Lycee International de Londres Winston Churchill, United Kingdom, used the Astro Pi’s accelerometer to study the motion of the ISS itself under conditions of normal flight and course correction/reboost maneuvers.

Torricelli from ITIS “E.Torricelli”, Italy, recorded images and took sensor measurements to calculate the orbital period and flight speed of the ISS followed by the mass of the Earth using Newton’s universal law of gravitation.

ApplePi from I Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Króla Stanisława Leszczyńskiego w Jaśle, Poland, compared their images from Astro Pi Izzy to historical images from 35 years ago and could show that coastlines have changed slightly due to erosion or human impact.

Spacethon from Saint Joseph La Salle Pruillé Le Chétif, France, tested their image-processing algorithm to identify solid, liquid, and gaseous features of exoplanets.

Stithians Rocket Code Club from Stithians CP School, United Kingdom, performed an experiment comparing the temperature aboard the ISS to the average temperature of the nearest country the space station was flying over.

Vytina Aerospace from Primary School of Vytina, Greece, recorded images of reservoirs and lakes on Earth to compare them with historical images from the last 30 years in order to investigate climate change.

Highly commended teams

We also selected four teams to be highly commended, and they will receive a selection of goodies from ESA Education and the Raspberry Pi Foundation:

Aguere Team from IES Marina Cebrián, Spain, investigated variations in the Earth’s magnetic field due to solar activity and a particular disturbance due to a solar coronal hole.

Astroraga from CoderDojo Trento, Italy, measured the magnetic field to investigate whether astronauts can still use a compass, just like on Earth, to orient themselves on the ISS.

Betlemites from Escoles Betlem, Spain, recorded the temperature on the ISS to find out if the pattern of a convection cell is different in microgravity.

Rovel In The Space from Scuola secondaria I grado A.Rosmini ROVELLO PORRO(Como), Italy, executed a program that monitored the pressure and would warn astronauts in case space debris or micrometeoroids collided with the ISS.

The next edition is not far off!

ESA and the Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to invite all school teachers, students, and young people to join the next edition of the challenge. Make sure to follow updates on the Astro Pi website and Astro Pi Twitter account to look out for the announcement of next year’s Astro Pi Challenge!

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Build a SatNOGS ground station with a Raspberry Pi 3B+ | HackSpace magazine #18

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/build-a-satnogs-ground-station-raspberry-pi-3b-hackspace-magazine-18/

The big feature on outer space in issue 18 of HackSpace magazine, available from today, shows you how to build your own satellite and launch it into orbit.

No, we’re not kidding, this is an actual thing you can do.

And to track the satellite you’ve launched, or another satellite you’re interested in, here’s how to build your own SatNOGS ground station with a Raspberry Pi 3B+.

Building a Raspberry Pi ground station

Once you’ve built and launched your small satellite, you’ll want to listen to all the glorious telemetry and data it‘s sending back as it hurtles around the Earth. Or perhaps you aspire to have a satellite up there, but in the meantime you want to listen to some other objects? What you need is a ground station, but a single ground station has one slight flaw. Most of the time a satellite will not be overhead of a single ground station; in fact, it may only pass over a ground station once every few days, massively reducing the amount of information or data we can receive. So we need a network of ground stations. The SatNOGS network solves this by creating a global network of stations that can work together to increase coverage.

SatNOGS is an open-source project that has numerous designs for satellite ground stations, but whichever design you pick, you can join the network that links them all via the web.

A station owner can use the website to browse for future passes of a satellite, and then click a button to schedule for their station to turn on, tune to frequency, and record the pass, sometimes even rotating the antenna on the station to track the satellite. Not only can a station owner schedule an observation on their own station, but they can schedule observations on any station on the global network.

As we can see from this map of data being collected of a recent SSTV broadcast from the ISS (sends single-frame images transmitted via audio from the ISS), the SatNOGS network has near-global coverage, rivalling most professional institutions in the world.

Simple setup

The simplest form of a SatNOGS station is one that doesn’t move or track and is made from a static antenna, a Raspberry Pi, and a cheap software-defined radio (SDR) dongle. The SDR dongle has become ubiquitous in maker circles as it is an affordable entry item into the world of receiving signals via SDR. Looking at our ingredients in the image below, let’s explore them a little more before we get started.

While a permanent station may do better connected by Ethernet cable, using the Raspberry Pi’s built-in wireless LAN functionality means we can run this simply with only a power cable. While many have used the cheapest Realtek SDR dongles with success, some people have found the slightly more refined versions can be more stable – a current recommendation is the RTL-SDR V3, which has a better casing for thermal dissipation, and slightly upgraded components. The RTL-SDR V3 is available here.

The classic antenna recommended for a static SatNOGS setup shown above is a ‘turnstile’ antenna; commercial models are available, such as the Wimo TA-1, but people have designed and built lots of different static antennas for different frequencies and with small budgets – check out the tutorial Make a Slim Jim antenna on page 112 (in HackSpace issue 18, links below).

In order to set up a ground station, one of the first tasks we need to do is set up an account on network.satnogs.org. Registering on the site then gives us a dashboard where we can begin to set up a station. Click to add a station — we then need to supply it with some basic details as per the image below: a name for the station, a location in latitude and longitude (Google is your friend here!), and the elevation of the station above sea-level.

You need to decide what frequency your station is going to cover; the most common ranges are UHF and VHF, which would require different antennas, but either range has a huge number of objects you can schedule to observe. Many people opt for VHF, as this includes the frequency range for a lot of the different transmissions from the ISS, so we are going to choose VHF as well. You also need to add a minimum elevation value — this is the minimum angle that a satellite must be in terms of height for your station to see it — if you aren’t sure, either ask for help on the forums, or leave it for now at the default 10 degrees.

Having filled in the boxes to create the station (leave the ‘this is in testing’ box ticked for now), you should now see a ground station entry has been made on your account, as above. You will see (even though it isn’t set up yet) a list populating underneath the entry with ‘Pass Predictions’, which are things you could schedule to observe once you are up and running. Before we leave the website, we need to make a note of the number assigned to the ground station, and also our own personal API key — which we can find in our dashboard by clicking the API key button. These two pieces of information are what will ultimately connect our ground station hardware to the website account.

The next task is to sort out the Raspberry Pi. You can find the current custom SatNOGS image here.

Flash this to your microSD card as you would for a regular Raspberry Pi setup — the free app Etcher, for example, is a simple tool that allows you to flash an image to a card.

Once done, boot the Raspberry Pi, and you can either SSH into the Pi, or connect a keyboard and monitor and interact with the setup that way. The first things we need to do are not SatNOGS-specific, but are the usual things we do when setting up a Raspberry Pi. We need to set up a different password by running the sudo raspi‐config command. Once you’ve set a password and expanded the file system, it’s also useful to set the time zone to UTC, as this is used throughout the SatNOGS network. If you want to run this test station wirelessly, then you need to configure your network connection at this point. If you are connecting via an Ethernet cable, then you don’t need to do anything else. Apply the changes and reboot (then see ‘Final setup’ box above in HackSpace issue 18, links below).

Now, if we go back to our dashboard on the SatNOGS website (perhaps wait a few minutes and click Refresh), we should see that the station is now online, as above. We should see an orange spot on the network map showing our proud station in testing. Being in testing means that only you can schedule observations on the station, but when you are ready, you can change settings to take it out of testing and then it is fully on the network.

On the hunt

Power down one last time and connect the RTL-SDR dongle and the antenna, then reboot — you are now ready to hunt satellites! Scheduling observations is as simple as selecting passes from the list and clicking Schedule. There may be drop-down choices for different transmitters to listen for on the same satellite, and other choices, but essentially you click Calculate to create the observation and then Schedule for the job to be created and sent to the queue for your station. There are hundreds of satellites to try to observe, so don’t worry if you don’t understand what any of them are — in the pass predictions list, if you click the name of a satellite you will get a pop-up with information about it. For a more detailed walkthrough of scheduling an observation on the SatNOGS network, check out this blog post.

After the time of the pass, return to the observation page and, hopefully, you should see some signals. Don’t worry if your first few observations aren’t successful: try at least a dozen observations before making any changes, as there are many possible reasons for a signal not getting picked up; indeed, the satellite may not even have been transmitting. If you have received a signal, you should ‘vet’ the observation as good; this is particularly important if you have scheduled on someone else’s station – etiquette says we should check and vet our own observations. Check out the Slim Jim antenna (see page 112 of HackSpace magazine issue 18, links below) for a link to a successful observation you can listen to.

Happy satellite hunting!

Finally, it’s a great idea to join the Libre Space Foundation community forum (or IRC), as it hosts the SatNOGS community channels, and there is a wealth of expertise and help available there from a very welcoming community. If you build a station, go and share your achievement on the forum — everyone will be pleased to see it.

Get HackSpace magazine issue 18 — out today

HackSpace magazine issue 18 is out today, and available online, or from many high-street retailers such as WHSmith and Sainsbury’s in the UK, and Barnes & Nobel in the US.

You can also download issue 18 for free, today as a PDF, so there really is no reason not to give HackSpace a spin.

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Astro Pi Mission Zero: guarantee your code’s place in space

Post Syndicated from Erin Brindley original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/mission-zero-2018-19/

Today is the official launch day of Astro Pi Mission Zero, part of the 2018–2019 European Astro Pi Challenge, an ESA Education programme run in collaboration with us at Raspberry Pi. In this challenge, students and young people get the chance to have their computer programs run in space on the International Space Station!

Astro Pi Mission Zero 2018/19

Text an astronaut!

Students and young people will have until 20 March 2019 to from teams and write a simple program to display their personal message to the astronauts onboard. The Mission Zero activity can be completed in a couple of hours with just a computer and an internet connection. You don’t need any special equipment or prior coding skills, and all participants that follow the guidelines are guaranteed to have their programs run in space.

Translations

This year, to help many more people take part in their native language, we have translated the Mission Zero resource, guidelines, and web page into 19 different languages! Head to our languages section to find your version of Mission Zero.

Take part in Astro Pi Mission Zero

To participate, the teams’ teacher or mentor needs to register for a classroom code that will let students submit their programs. Teams then follow our online resource to write their programs using the browser-based Trinket emulator: with just a few lines of Python, your team will create a program for one of the two Astro Pi computers aboard the ISS!

Astro Pi Mission Zero 2018/19

Each team’s program will run for 30 seconds aboard the Space Station, visible for all the astronauts including this year’s challenge ambassadors: ESA astronaut and ISS Commander Alexander Gerst and CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques.

Astro Pi returns for a new 2018/19 challenge!

Ever wanted to run your own experiment in space? Then you’re in luck! ESA Education, in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, is pleased to announce the launch of the 2018/2019 European Astro Pi Challenge!

Every team that submits a valid Mission Zero entry will also receive a certificate showing the flight path of the ISS above Earth at the exact time their code ran!

Astro Pi Mission Zero 2018/19

The challenge is open to teams of students and young people who are aged 14 years or younger (at the time of submission) and from ESA Member or Associate Member States*. The teams must have at least two and no more than four members, and they must be supervised by an adult teacher or mentor.

Have fun, and say hi to the astronauts from us!

About the European Astro Pi Challenge

The European Astro Pi Challenge is an ESA Education project run in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. It offers students and young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space by writing computer programs that run on Raspberry Pi computers on board the International Space Station (ISS). The Astro Pi Challenge is divided into two separate missions with different levels of complexity: Mission Zero (the basic mission), and Mission Space Lab (one step further). This year’s Mission Space Lab is closing for applications at the end of October. Click here for more information about it.

*ESA Member States in 2018:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

ESA Associate States in 2018: Canada, Slovenia
In the framework of the current collaboration agreement between ESA and the Republic of Malta, teams from Malta can also participate in the European Astro Pi Challenge. ESA will also accept entries from primary or secondary schools located outside an ESA Member or Associate State only if such schools are officially authorised and/or certified by the official Education authorities of an ESA Member or Associate State (for instance, French school outside Europe officially recognised by the French Ministry of Education or delegated authority).

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Tim Peake congratulates winning Mission Space Lab teams!

Post Syndicated from Erin Brindley original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/mission-space-lab-winners-2018/

This week, the ten winning Astro Pi Mission Space Lab teams got to take part in a video conference with ESA Astronaut Tim Peake!

ESA Astro Pi students meet Tim Peake

Uploaded by Raspberry Pi on 2018-06-26.

A brief history of Astro Pi

In 2014, Raspberry Pi Foundation partnered with the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency to fly two Raspberry Pi computers to the International Space Station. These Pis, known as Astro Pis Ed and Izzy, are each equipped with a Sense HAT and Camera Module (IR or Vis) and housed within special space-hardened cases.

In our annual Astro Pi Challenge, young people from all 22 ESA member states have the opportunity to design and code experiments for the Astro Pis to become the next generation of space scientists.

Mission Zero vs Mission Space Lab

Back in September, we announced the 2017/2018 European Astro Pi Challenge, in partnership with the European Space Agency. This year, for the first time, the Astro Pi Challenge comprised two missions: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab.

Mission Zero is a new entry-level challenge that allows young coders to have their message displayed to the astronauts on-board the ISS. It finished up in February, with more than 5400 young people in over 2500 teams taking part!

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo

For Mission Space Lab, young people work like real scientists by designing their own experiment to investigate one of two topics:

Life in space

For this topic, young coders write code to run on Astro Pi Vis (Ed) in the Columbus module to investigate life aboard the ISS.

Life on Earth

For this topic, young people design a code experiment to run on Astro Pi IR (Izzy), aimed towards the Earth through a window, to investigate life down on our planet.

Our participants

We had more than 1400 students across 330 teams take part in this year’s Mission Space Lab. Teams who submitted an eligible idea for an experiment received an Astro Pi kit from ESA to develop their Python code. These kits contain the same hardware that’s aboard the ISS, enabling students to test their experiments in conditions similar to those on the space station. The best experiments were granted flight status earlier this year, and the code of these teams ran on the ISS in April.

And the winners are…

The teams received the results of their experiments and were asked to submit scientific reports based on their findings. Just a few weeks ago, 98 teams sent us brilliant reports, and we had the difficult task of whittling the pool of teams down to find the final ten winners!

As you can see in the video above, the winning teams were lucky enough to take part in a very special video conference with ESA Astronaut Tim Peake.


2017/18 Mission Space Lab winning teams

The Dark Side of Light from Branksome Hall, Canada, investigated whether the light pollution in an area could be used to determine the source of energy for the electricity consumption.

Spaceballs from Attert Lycée Redange, Luxembourg, successfully calculated the speed of the ISS by analysing ground photographs.

Enrico Fermi from Liceo XXV Aprile, Italy, investigated the link between the Astro Pi’s magnetometer and X-ray measurements from the GOES-15 satellite.

Team Aurora from Hyvinkään yhteiskoulun lukio, Finland, showed how the Astro Pi’s magnetometer could be used to map the Earth’s magnetic field and determine the latitude of the ISS.

@stroMega from Institut de Genech, France, used Astro Pi Izzy’s near-infrared Camera Module to measure the health and density of vegetation on Earth.

Ursa Major from a CoderDojo in Belgium created a program to autonomously measure the percentage of vegetation, water, and clouds in photographs from Astro Pi Izzy.

Canarias 1 from IES El Calero, Spain, built on existing data and successfully determined whether the ISS was eclipsed from on-board sensor data.

The Earth Watchers from S.T.E.M Robotics Academy, Greece, used Astro Pi Izzy to compare the health of vegetation in Quebec, Canada, and Guam.

Trentini DOP from CoderDojo Trento, Italy, investigated the stability of the on-board conditions of the ISS and whether or not they were effected by eclipsing.

Team Lampone from CoderDojo Trento, Italy, accurately measured the speed of the ISS by analysing ground photographs taken by Astro Pi Izzy.

Well done to everyone who took part, and massive congratulations to all the winners!

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Build your own Arthur satellite dish for tracking the ISS

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/arthur-iss-tracker/

Construct a 3D paper model of the iconic Arthur satellite dish that notifies you whenever the International Space Station passes overhead!

Project_Arthur

Project_Arthur is a fun project allowing you to construct a 3d paper model of the Antenna 1 dish called Arthur from Goonhilly. The model will track the location of the ISS (International Space Station) using an embedded Raspberry PI and notify you when it is over your chosen location!

The Arthur satellite dish at Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station

Based in Cornwall, UK, the Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station was once the largest satellite earth station in the world. It has been home to more than 60 dishes since its first dish, Arthur, was built in 1962.

Arthur satellite dish

Arthur is responsible for bringing many iconic moments in television history to the UK. For example, it transmitted man’s first steps on the moon on 11 June 1962. Since then, it’s become a protected Grade II listed structure.

Project Arthur

Apollo 50’s Project Arthur is an open-source 3D papercraft project that allows you to build your own desktop Arthur satellite dish model, complete with LED notifications via a Raspberry Pi Zero W.

The entire body of the satellite dish is built using ten sheets of 160gsm cardstock, printed with the Arthur design that you can download for free from the Project Arthur website. A Raspberry Pi Zero W fits within the base of the model, and you can push a small LED through the feedhorn — the bit that sticks out the front of the dish.

Arthur satellite dish - raspberry pi iss indicator

The Apollo 50 team created a simple IFTTT web applet that accesses an API to find out the location of the International Space Station (ISS).

The project uses a conditional web applet that we created on the IFTTT (If This Then That) platform. The applet monitors an API via NASA and Open Notify that we give a specific location on Earth (such as your home/school). It computes whether the ISS is overhead, and in that case sends a tweet to you with a particular hashtag (such as #ISS_overGoonhilly). When this hashtag is picked up by the code running on the Pi, the LED will flash to indicate that the ISS is overhead!

Raspberry Pi and the International Space Station

Our two Astro Pi units, Ed and Izzy, are currently aboard the International Space Station as part of the ongoing Astro Pi Challenge we’re running in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). The Astro Pi units consist of a Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ and a Sense HAT inside a 6063-grade aluminium flight case, and they allow school children from all ESA member countries to write code to run experiments in space. You can learn more about the Astro Pi Challenge here.

Astro Pi in space - Arthur satellite dish

If you’d like to try out more space-themed Pi projects, our free project resources include ‘People in space’ indicator — a handy LED-packed gadget for checking how many people (that we know of 👽) are currently in space.

Raspberry Pi ISS People in Space indicator - Arthur satellite dish

There are many more free resources on our projects site, including our own take on an ISS tracker, and the files to print your own Astro Pi case. And you can learn more about papercraft in issue 6 of HackSpace magazine, our monthly maker publication available in print and as a free PDF download that makes a sneaky appearance in the Project Arthur video!

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AWS Online Tech Talks – June 2018

Post Syndicated from Devin Watson original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-online-tech-talks-june-2018/

AWS Online Tech Talks – June 2018

Join us this month to learn about AWS services and solutions. New this month, we have a fireside chat with the GM of Amazon WorkSpaces and our 2nd episode of the “How to re:Invent” series. We’ll also cover best practices, deep dives, use cases and more! Join us and register today!

Note – All sessions are free and in Pacific Time.

Tech talks featured this month:

 

Analytics & Big Data

June 18, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTGet Started with Real-Time Streaming Data in Under 5 Minutes – Learn how to use Amazon Kinesis to capture, store, and analyze streaming data in real-time including IoT device data, VPC flow logs, and clickstream data.
June 20, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT – Insights For Everyone – Deploying Data across your Organization – Learn how to deploy data at scale using AWS Analytics and QuickSight’s new reader role and usage based pricing.

 

AWS re:Invent
June 13, 2018 | 05:00 PM – 05:30 PM PTEpisode 2: AWS re:Invent Breakout Content Secret Sauce – Hear from one of our own AWS content experts as we dive deep into the re:Invent content strategy and how we maintain a high bar.
Compute

June 25, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTAccelerating Containerized Workloads with Amazon EC2 Spot Instances – Learn how to efficiently deploy containerized workloads and easily manage clusters at any scale at a fraction of the cost with Spot Instances.

June 26, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTEnsuring Your Windows Server Workloads Are Well-Architected – Get the benefits, best practices and tools on running your Microsoft Workloads on AWS leveraging a well-architected approach.

 

Containers
June 25, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTRunning Kubernetes on AWS – Learn about the basics of running Kubernetes on AWS including how setup masters, networking, security, and add auto-scaling to your cluster.

 

Databases

June 18, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTOracle to Amazon Aurora Migration, Step by Step – Learn how to migrate your Oracle database to Amazon Aurora.
DevOps

June 20, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTSet Up a CI/CD Pipeline for Deploying Containers Using the AWS Developer Tools – Learn how to set up a CI/CD pipeline for deploying containers using the AWS Developer Tools.

 

Enterprise & Hybrid
June 18, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTDe-risking Enterprise Migration with AWS Managed Services – Learn how enterprise customers are de-risking cloud adoption with AWS Managed Services.

June 19, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTLaunch AWS Faster using Automated Landing Zones – Learn how the AWS Landing Zone can automate the set up of best practice baselines when setting up new

 

AWS Environments

June 21, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTLeading Your Team Through a Cloud Transformation – Learn how you can help lead your organization through a cloud transformation.

June 21, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTEnabling New Retail Customer Experiences with Big Data – Learn how AWS can help retailers realize actual value from their big data and deliver on differentiated retail customer experiences.

June 28, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTFireside Chat: End User Collaboration on AWS – Learn how End User Compute services can help you deliver access to desktops and applications anywhere, anytime, using any device.
IoT

June 27, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTAWS IoT in the Connected Home – Learn how to use AWS IoT to build innovative Connected Home products.

 

Machine Learning

June 19, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTIntegrating Amazon SageMaker into your Enterprise – Learn how to integrate Amazon SageMaker and other AWS Services within an Enterprise environment.

June 21, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTBuilding Text Analytics Applications on AWS using Amazon Comprehend – Learn how you can unlock the value of your unstructured data with NLP-based text analytics.

 

Management Tools

June 20, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTOptimizing Application Performance and Costs with Auto Scaling – Learn how selecting the right scaling option can help optimize application performance and costs.

 

Mobile
June 25, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTDrive User Engagement with Amazon Pinpoint – Learn how Amazon Pinpoint simplifies and streamlines effective user engagement.

 

Security, Identity & Compliance

June 26, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTUnderstanding AWS Secrets Manager – Learn how AWS Secrets Manager helps you rotate and manage access to secrets centrally.
June 28, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTUsing Amazon Inspector to Discover Potential Security Issues – See how Amazon Inspector can be used to discover security issues of your instances.

 

Serverless

June 19, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTProductionize Serverless Application Building and Deployments with AWS SAM – Learn expert tips and techniques for building and deploying serverless applications at scale with AWS SAM.

 

Storage

June 26, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTDeep Dive: Hybrid Cloud Storage with AWS Storage Gateway – Learn how you can reduce your on-premises infrastructure by using the AWS Storage Gateway to connecting your applications to the scalable and reliable AWS storage services.
June 27, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTChanging the Game: Extending Compute Capabilities to the Edge – Discover how to change the game for IIoT and edge analytics applications with AWS Snowball Edge plus enhanced Compute instances.
June 28, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTBig Data and Analytics Workloads on Amazon EFS – Get best practices and deployment advice for running big data and analytics workloads on Amazon EFS.

[$] Deferring seccomp decisions to user space

Post Syndicated from corbet original https://lwn.net/Articles/756233/rss

There has been a lot of work in recent years to use BPF to push policy
decisions into the kernel. But sometimes, it seems, what is really wanted
is a way for a BPF program to punt a decision back to user space. That is
the objective behind this patch set giving
the secure
computing (seccomp)
mechanism a way to pass complex decisions to
a user-space helper program.

Friday Squid Blogging: Do Cephalopods Contain Alien DNA?

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/06/friday_squid_bl_627.html

Maybe not DNA, but biological somethings.

Cause of Cambrian explosion — Terrestrial or Cosmic?“:

Abstract: We review the salient evidence consistent with or predicted by the Hoyle-Wickramasinghe (H-W) thesis of Cometary (Cosmic) Biology. Much of this physical and biological evidence is multifactorial. One particular focus are the recent studies which date the emergence of the complex retroviruses of vertebrate lines at or just before the Cambrian Explosion of ~500 Ma. Such viruses are known to be plausibly associated with major evolutionary genomic processes. We believe this coincidence is not fortuitous but is consistent with a key prediction of H-W theory whereby major extinction-diversification evolutionary boundaries coincide with virus-bearing cometary-bolide bombardment events. A second focus is the remarkable evolution of intelligent complexity (Cephalopods) culminating in the emergence of the Octopus. A third focus concerns the micro-organism fossil evidence contained within meteorites as well as the detection in the upper atmosphere of apparent incoming life-bearing particles from space. In our view the totality of the multifactorial data and critical analyses assembled by Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe and their many colleagues since the 1960s leads to a very plausible conclusion — life may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago); and living organisms such as space-resistant and space-hardy bacteria, viruses, more complex eukaryotic cells, fertilised ova and seeds have been continuously delivered ever since to Earth so being one important driver of further terrestrial evolution which has resulted in considerable genetic diversity and which has led to the emergence of mankind.

Two commentaries.

This is almost certainly not true.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.