Astro Pi goes live

03 February 2016

The first of the two Astro Pi computers on board the ISS has been switched on by British ESA astronaut Tim Peake.

Astro Pi Vis, which is called Ed, is powered up and is now running the student experiments that won the 2015 Astro Pi competition. Ed is running most of the experiments, but the others will be run by Izzy (Astro Pi Ir) who will be deployed in the Harmony node of the ISS on February 15th. Izzy needs to look through a hatch window as she’ll be taking infrared pictures of the Earth – there are no windows in the Columbus module.

Both Ed @astro_pi_vis and Izzy @astro_pi_ir have taken inspiration from Tim and have joined Twitter where they will tweet about what they’re doing over the coming weeks as well as some photos of their experiences on board the ISS.

They’re named after the real-life friendship between Sir Isaac Newton (Izzy) and Edmond Halley (Ed) which resulted in the publication of the famous 17th-century physics book, Principia Mathematica, after which Tim’s mission is named.

Once Ed and Izzy have finished running their student experiments, they will each begin a long-term ISS environmental monitoring experiment that everyone can take part in.

They’ll enter a flight recorder mode where they save sensor readings to their own databases every 10 seconds. Because the sensor readings are taken so often there will be masses of data to search through, so we need your help to look through the data and find out what was going on. There could be strange, unexplained things, or just the normal day-to-day activities of the astronauts.

Resources for this are below; the data will not be available for several weeks yet but there is some sample data that can be used to practice with.

Astro-pi flight data analysis.


Astro PiNew Coding Challenge

There are also two new coding challenges, where the prize is to have your code uploaded and run by Ed or Izzy in space.

The first requires you to write Python Sense HAT code to turn Ed and Izzy into an MP3 player, so that Tim can plug in his headphones and listen to music. The second requires you to code Sonic Pi music for Tim to listen to via the MP3 player.

For more information on the new challenges, visit the Astro Pi website, where you’ll find out everything you need to know: