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Phenomenal Cosmic Raspberry Pi Projects part 2

Apollo 50 is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Here are some of the best science in space Raspberry Pi projects

Buzz Aldrin salutes the American Flag on the surface of the moon 

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon’s surface. He stepped out of his Eagle landing craft, in the Sea of Tranquility, and said: “that’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind”.

The Apollo moon program represented a huge advance in humankind. Technology played a huge role in sending people to the moon, and we’re all space fans at The MagPi.

Yesterday, we looked at the history of space exploration. Today we’re going to show you some of the best Raspberry Pi space-themed projects.

This article first appeared in The MagPi #83 and was written by Rob Zwetsloot.

Build an Apollo Guidance Computer with Raspberry Pi

It turns out that the code for the AGC (Apollo Guidance Computer) is open-source and on GitHub. This is the same code from the famous photo of computer scientist Margaret Hamilton standing next to the stack of paper, now in a more usable form. Use it to emulate the special computer the Apollo mission used, and learn about the early days of computers at the same time.

Margaret Hamilton Apollo Guidance Computer Code Output

Margaret Hamilton standing next to the printed output of her code from the Apollo Guidance Computer


Running a Virtual Apollo Guidance Computer

Astro Pi: Run code on the International Space Station

Want to send your code to space? The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Astro Pi programme has regular competitions to get projects created by school students and other groups of young people up onto the ISS. Keep an eye on the Astro Pi website for upcoming missions.


The Astro Pi programme enables students to run code on two Raspberry Pi computers onboard the International Space Station

Build a curiosity rover

The Curiosity rover is very cool, and we love hearing about its various discoveries. While you won’t be able to send a rover to Mars just yet, you can create a Mars rover to use here on Earth using the Open-Source Rover Project! The designs from the Jet Propulsion Lab are available on GitHub. They’ve been adapted for making a Raspberry Pi version.

Open-Source Rover

Build a Mars Curiosity rover with the Open-Source Rover project

Set up a Raspberry Pi-driven telescope mount

Computer-controlled telescopes are nothing very new; however, they are something that has always been relatively expensive. The benefits are pretty simple: you can easily program in a celestial body or just coordinates to look at, and the telescope will automatically look there. Using a Raspberry Pi Zero W, Dane Gardner was able to seriously upgrade his telescope and have it work wireless and flawlessly.


Upgrade a telescope with Raspberry Pi

Future space missions

Space exploration didn’t end with the Apollo programme. There have been launches and missions ever since (although we’ve yet to return to the moon). Here are some upcoming space missions to look forward to:

Mars 2020 17 July 2020

Slated to launch in mid-2020 and land early 2021, Mars 2020 is a rover that will study the geology of the Jezero crater, which is thought to have once held water. It will see if there are any signs of ancient life, and bring samples back to Earth for further study.

Mars 2020

The Mars 2020 rover

Lucy October 2021

Lucy is planned as a probe that will study some of the so-called Jupiter trojans – asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit around the sun. Thought to contain the same materials that built the planets, studies could give us more knowledge about how our solar system was formed.

Lucy Jupiter

The Lucy 2021 probe will study Jupiter’s orbit

JUICE June 2022

The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, or JUICE, will be sent to Jupiter to study some of its largest moons for bodies of liquid water, specifically Ganymede, Calisto, and Europa. The current plan is for it to orbit Ganymede by 2032, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a moon other than our own!

JUICE spacecraft

The JUICE craft will study Jupiter’s Icy Moons