Astro Pi units running students' experiments on the ISS

Save the date: the European Astro Pi Challenge is back!

15/09/2017 2425 views 12 likes
ESA / Education / AstroPI

Following the huge success of its first edition, ESA is happy to announce that the European Astro Pi Challenge is back for the 2017-2018 school year, giving more students the exciting opportunity to run their codes on the International Space Station (ISS). Save the date, as the official launch of the 2017-2018 European Astro Pi Challenge is on 25 September.

Onboard the ISS are two special Astro Pi computers ready to be used by primary and secondary school students. Astro Pi computers come with a set of sensors and gadgets that can be used to run cool scientific experiments and to take nice pictures of Earth from space. Teams participating in the European Astro Pi Challenge have the chance to run their own science investigation in space and contribute to the daily routine of the ISS. Take this opportunity to learn more about science by using the same hardware that is onboard the ISS!

A novel addition to this year’s Challenge is that it will have two different levels of complexity: Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab.

Mission Zero is a non-competitive mission for students who are aged 14 years and younger. Teams have to write a simple computer program that displays a greeting message to the crew using the Astro Pi LED matrix and that shows the temperature on the ISS. At this level, teams only make use of the Astro Pi Sense HAT web emulator for Mission Zero in which students can virtually test and run their code from any computer connected to the internet. The teams’ code is guaranteed to run in space for 30 seconds! The Sense HAT web emulator for mission Zero will be live on 25 September. 

For mission Space Lab, school students aged 19 and younger will design a scientific experiment that can be run with the exclusive use of an Astro Pi, and will write the computer code with which the Astro Pi will need to be programmed. Students’ experiments will need to be related either to life onboard the ISS or to life on Earth. The best experiments/codes will be uploaded to the ISS and run for three hours (two orbits). Teams will then analyse the data collected on the ISS and write a report to share their results – just like space scientists do!

To learn more about the European Astro Pi Challenge 2017-2018, click here.

Registration for both missions will open on 25 September 2017. Until then, teams can start looking for inspiration and ideas here. Teachers can also find supporting material for teams participating in the European Astro Pi Challenge by clicking on this link. ESA’s Education Office, in collaboration with the ESEROs, is also preparing new resources, webinars, and videos in support of this year’s Challenge.

Don’t forget: the official launch of the 2017-2018 European Astro Pi Challenge will be on 25 September. ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli is preparing a very nice message for you so…stay tuned!

For questions, please send an email to astropi @