This week, the European Space Agency ESA
has once again issued a programming competition for pupils from all ESA Member States (including Switzerland). This gives the participants the opportunity to carry out programmed codes on the International Space Station (ISS) and collect data or take photos. Further information on the competition can be found on the official website of the European AstroPi Challenge
What exactly is AstroPi?
The Raspberry Pi is a small, inexpensive and relatively powerful computer. It was developed by the British Foundation Raspberry Pi Foundation with the aim of facilitating young people's access to programming skills.
Two such Raspberry Pi computers - called AstroPi - were installed on the ISS in December 2015. The two AstroPis each consist of a Raspberry Pi model B + with camera module and various peripheral sensors, which can measure parameters such as temperature, humidity and acceleration.
Together with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, ESA has developed an educational program for European schools. This uses the AstroPi platform to teach students the programming and the computer science in connection with the various requirements of the space industry.
In the annual competitions, pupils aged between 11 and 18 are asked to write programs which fulfill certain tasks at the ISS. The programs can then be run on the AstroPi, and the results can be downloaded and distributed to the schools. The BIOTESC support center can access AstroPis directly from its control room in Hergiswil, install student programs and download collected files or photos again. These are sent back to the student teams.