Astro Pi: Mission Update 8 – ISS Deployment


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.


On the 4th of January Tim unpacked Ed and took this amazing picture in the Columbus module of the ISS. You can download the original from Tim’s Flickr account.

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.

It gives us great pleasure to announce that yesterday Ed was successfully deployed by Tim. He’s powered up and is now running the student experiments that won the 2015 Astro Pi competition.

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.

Astro Pi Flight Data Analysis

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.



Congrats to the raspberry pi foundation and tim peake on this amazing feat.


Haha great video! Reminded me of the SuperTed opening sequence ;-)

If you’d named the AstroPi units the other way around, it could have been “infra-rED camera”, and “vIZZYble-light camera”.


Omg. I am so entering


Congratulations to the students whose code is being run by Tim in space. You must all be so thrilled.

It was really exciting to see the interaction between Ed and Tim on Twitter. I can’t wait for Izzy to wake up.

And another coding challenge to enter.
Glad to see Sonic Pi coding too. It’s really accessible and so much fun.

Lucky I’ve organised an Astro Pi talk and two Astro Pi and Sonic Pi workshops at Chelmsford Raspberry Jam in two weeks time.

I’ll be running more Sonic Pi and Astro Pi workshops in Southend and Essex to help people enter the new coding challenges and analyse the flight data.

I’ll be putting more details on my new website

Thanks to everyone who has made this possible.
It really is amazing.



Astounding! And 2 more coding challenges! However, if Mr. Peake is only going to be up there for about 6 months, and he gets the MP3 player near the end of his mission, that kind of defeats the point, doesn’t it? Or am I mistaken?


Amazing. The only way you are going to top that is to talk to Elon Musk about that Mars mission… :-)


Wait, why is this only in the UK? The contest is only open to people in the UK? I live in the US. Does that mean I can’t enter?


For now, yes (it’s being funded by Space UK and ESA) – but the good news is that we’re hoping to run something similar with other space agencies – including the one you’re thinking of – in the future. So watch this space!


This is so cool. I also really want the case. Please @raspberry_pi make an official astropi replica case for makers :)

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