Ed and Izzy
On Monday this week we released the first of four short cartoons that tell the story of the Astro Pi mission. Part 1 introduces Ed and Izzy, the two Astro Pi flight units that are up in space right now.
You may recognise the voice-over: it’s TV science presenter Fran Scott from Absolute Genius and How to be Epic. Thanks Fran!
The idea to anthropomorphise the Astro Pis came from Tim Peake himself. He was a fan of what ESA had done previously with Rosetta and Philae’s social media accounts, and felt that this would be a great way to involve young people in the mission.
Ed @astro_pi_vis and Izzy @astro_pi_ir have their own Twitter accounts and will be tweeting about what they’re doing over the coming weeks. 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.
— Tim Peake (@astro_timpeake) January 4, 2016
The Astro Pis were originally scheduled to be powered up on the 11th of January; however, it was postponed due to the spacewalks they recently undertook, which rightly take priority over anything educational.
— Ed (@astro_pi_vis) February 2, 2016
It takes several days to get images back from the ISS because they have to be screened by ESA and NASA for crew privacy reasons. So keep an eye on Tim’s social media accounts over the next few days for pictures of Ed online and working!
Ed is running most of the experiments, but the others will be run by Izzy 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 Columbus.
If you enjoy watching the ISS Live Stream you may be able to spot them from time to time!
Flight Data Analysis
Once Ed and Izzy have finished running their student experiments, they will each begin a long-term ISS environmental monitoring experiment that you can all take part in.
They’ll enter a flight recorder mode where they save sensor readings to their own databases every ten 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.
Check out the resource for this below. The data will not be available for several weeks yet, but there is some sample data here for you to practice with.
New Coding Challenge
It also gives us great pleasure to announce two new coding challenges, where the prize is to have your code uploaded and run by Ed or Izzy in space!
That’s right – your code 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. You may enter both challenges if you wish.
Head over to the Astro Pi website now, where you’ll find out everything you need to know.