AstroPi — Upgraded

What is AstroPi?

The European AstroPi Challenge offers young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space. By writing computer programs that run on Raspberry Pi computers aboard the International Space Station (ISS).


As part of British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s Principia mission (2015–2016) on the ISS. Two space-hardened Raspberry Pi computers, called Astro Pis, equipped with environmental sensors, were sent to the ISS. Then used to run students’ and young people’s programs. With ISS crew support. As well as Tim, astronauts Thomas Pesquet, Alexander Gerst, David Saint-Jacques (CSA astronaut) and Luca Parmitano have all acted as ambassadors for the challenge.

Mark II hardware

Since 2019, the Astro Pi team has been hard at work developing upgraded versions of the Astro Pi hardware. The new hardware will replace the “Ed” and “Izzy” computers that were sent to the ISS with Tim Peake in 2015.

Now, after two years of secret development, the new upgraded Astro Pi VIS and Astro Pi IR computers are ready! They will be used to run teams’ Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab programs. As part of the European Astro Pi Challenge 2021/22.

We’re super excited to announce that the European Astro Pi Challenge is back for another year of amazing space-based coding adventures.

What’s new with AstroPi?

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced that they’re upgrading the Raspberry Pi computers on the International Space Station (ISS). Adding new hardware to expand the range of experiments that young people can run in space!

The first Astro Pi units were taken up to the ISS by British ESA astronaut Tim Peake in December 2015. As part of the Principia mission. Since then, 54000 young people from 26 countries have written code that has run on these specially augmented Raspberry Pi computers.

Working with our partners at the European Space Agency, we are now upgrading the Astro Pi units to include:

  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B with 8GB RAM
  • Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera
  • Google Coral machine learning accelerator
  • Colour and luminosity sensor
  • Passive infrared sensor

The units will continue to have a gyroscope; an accelerometer; a magnetometer; and humidity, temperature, and pressure sensors.

The new hardware makes it possible for teams to design new types of experiments. With the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera they can take sharper, more detailed images. And, for the first time, teams will be able to get full-colour photos of the beauty of Earth from space. This will also enable teams to investigate plant health. Thanks to the higher-quality optical filter in conjunction with the IR-sensitive camera. Using the Coral machine learning accelerator, teams will also be able to develop machine learning models that allow high-speed, real-time processing.

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