Astro Pi: Coding Challenges Results!

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Back in early February we announced a new opportunity for young programmers to send their code up the International Space Station to be used by British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake.

Two challenges were on offer. The first required you to write Python Sense HAT code to turn Ed and Izzy (the Astro Pi computers) into an MP3 player, so that Tim can plug in his headphones and listen to music. The second required you to code Sonic Pi music for Tim to listen to via the MP3 player.

The competition closed on March 31st and the judging took place at Pi Towers in Cambridge last week. With the assistance of Flat Tim!

The judges were selected from companies who have contributed to the Astro Pi mission so far. These were;

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Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark (Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys)

We also wanted to have some judges to provide musical talent to balance the science and technology expertise from the aerospace people. Thanks to Carl Walker at ESA we were able to connect with synthpop giants OMD (Enola Gay, Electricity, Maid of Orleans) and British/French film composer Ilan Eshkeri (Stardust, Layer Cake, Shaun the Sheep).

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Ilan Eshkeri working on the Stardust soundtrack

We also secured Sam Aaron, the author of Sonic Pi and Overtone, a live coder who regularly performs in clubs across the UK.

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Sam Aaron at TEDx Newcastle

Entries were received from all over the UK and were judged across four age categories; 11 and under, 11 to 13, 14 to 16 and 17 to 18. So the outcome is that four MP3 players and four songs will be going up to the ISS for Tim to use. Note that the Sonic Pi tunes will be converted to MP3 so that the MP3 player programs can load and play the audio to Tim.

The judging took two days to complete: one full day for the MP3 players and one day for the Sonic Pi tunes. So without further ado, let’s see who the winners are!

MP3 Player Winners

11 and under

11 to 13

14 to 16

  • Winner: Joe Speers
  • School: n/a (Independent entry)
  • Teacher/Adult: Craig Speers
  • Code on Github

17 to 18

Sonic Pi Winners

11 and under

11 to 13

  • Winner: Isaac Ingram
  • School: Knox Academy
  • Teacher/Adult: Karl Ingram

14 to 16

17 to 18

Congratulations to you all. The judges had a lot of fun with your entries and they will very soon be uploaded to the International Space Station for Tim Peake. The Astro Pi Twitter account will post a tweet to indicate when Tim is listening to the music.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation would like to thank all the judges who contributed to this competition, and especially our special judges: Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys from OMD, Ilan Eshkeri and Sam Aaron.