Hundreds selected for the 2022-23 Astro Pi Mission Space Lab challenge

01/12/2022 191 views 10 likesESA / Education / AstroPI

In brief

We are delighted to announce that 768 teams made up of 3,086 young people from 23 countries sent us their ideas for experiments to run on board the International Space Station (ISS) for this year’s Mission Space Lab.


ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti with the new Astro Pi Computers on the ISS
ESA Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti with the new Astro Pi Computers on the ISS

After a panel of 25 judges from Raspberry Pi Foundation and ESA Education assessed the entries, we are delighted to announce that 486 teams will move on to Phase 2 of Mission Space Lab. Congratulations! The standard was higher than ever, making this the toughest judging yet.

We are restricted in how many teams we can accommodate as time to run experiments on board the ISS is limited, especially for Life on Earth experiments that require observation time in the Columbus module’s window.

Life on Earth continued to be the most popular theme in the Mission Space Lab challenge, with 76% of teams choosing to submit an idea using one of the Astro Pi’s High Quality Cameras. Half of these experiments proposed using the Infrared camera to investigate topics such as deforestation. Across all themes, over 40% of teams expressed an interest in using machine learning in their experiment.

All selected teams will receive a special Astro Pi hardware kit, customised to their experiment idea, to help them write the programs. Once the teams of young people have received their kits, they’ll be able to familiarise themselves with the Astro Pi hardware, and then create and test (and re-test!) their code.

Welcome back Ed and Izzy!

Astro Pis Ed and Izzy back from the ISS
Astro Pis Ed and Izzy back from the ISS

Thanks to our annual Astro Pi Challenge, running since 2015, teams of young people have written computer programs for their own scientific experiments to run on two Astro Pi computers on the ISS. This is the second year that experiments will run on two new, upgraded Astro Pi’s, named after Nikola Tesla and Marie Curie. We are very excited to announce that after running over 50,000 young people’s computer programs, the Mark I Astro Pi’s, named Ed and Izzy, have returned to Earth for a well-earned rest!

Young people’s code will run in space next year

The teams’ deadline to submit the code for their experiments is Thursday, 24 February 2023. A submission will go through rigorous checks and tests before being accepted to Phase 3. Submissions that make it to Phase 3 are awarded flight status and will run on the Astro Pi’s on board the ISS  between April-May 2023.

To get started and have the best chance of moving on to Phase 3, teams are advised to consult the Mission Space Lab guidelines and the Phase 2 project guide.

European Astro Pi Challenge
European Astro Pi Challenge

Congratulations to the successful teams, and thank you to everyone who sent us their ideas for Mission Space Lab this year. A special thank you to all the teachers, educators, club volunteers, and other wonderful people who are acting as Mission Space Lab team mentors. You are helping young people do something remarkable that they will remember for the rest of their lives, and we couldn’t do this without you!

If your experiment idea was unsuccessful this time,  we encourage you to submit a new experiment idea in next year’s challenge.

Don’t forget Mission Zero 2022-23

Young people up to age 19 can also take part in Mission Zero. Teams or individuals from eligible ESA countries can write a program to display a personalised image (or series of images) on an Astro Pi computer on board the ISS to remind the astronauts of home, using a reading from the Astro Pi’s colour and luminosity sensor to set the colour of the background. Entries for Mission Zero 2022-23 are open until 17 March 2023. See Mission Zero for more details.

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