ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti © ESA
Would you like to give your pupils the chance to get hands on with programming and space science?
The European Astro Pi Challenge offers young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific investigations in space, by writing computer programs that run on Raspberry Pi computers on board the International Space Station (ISS).
What is Mission Zero?
Mission Zero is a one-hour activity suitable for beginners to programming and primary school–aged children. It offers young people the chance to have their code run in space!
Following step-by-step instructions, your pupils will write a simple program to take a reading from the colour and luminosity sensor on an Astro Pi computer on board the ISS and display a personalised image for the astronauts to see as they go about their daily tasks, using the sensor reading to set the background colour of the image.
No special hardware or prior coding skills are needed. Participation is free and everything can be done in a web browser, on any computer with internet access.
Entries for Mission Zero 2022/23 are open until 17 March 2023. All eligible entries that follow the official guidelines will have their program run in space for up to 30 seconds.
Participants will receive a piece of space science history to keep: a personalised certificate they can download, which shows their Mission Zero program’s exact start and end time, and the position of the ISS when their program ran.
This year’s theme
The theme to inspire young people’s images this year is ‘flora and fauna’. The images participants design can represent any aspect of this theme, for example, flowers, trees, animals or insects. Your pupils could even choose to program a series of images to show a short animation during the 30 seconds their program will run.
Here are some examples of images created by last year’s Mission Zero participants. What will your pupils create?
Why participate in Mission Zero?
This unique opportunity to become part of space exploration history enables young people to dive into the amazing world of STEM and try out coding.
Primary school teacher Sophie Hudson took part in Mission Zero with pupils in Years 3 and 4:
“It was super for them to learn about how coding looks in the ‘real world’, and it actually went into space. The certificates were really validating and they got so excited about it – their enthusiasm shone through. All in all, incorporating the Astro Pi Challenge into my lessons was a brilliant experience.”
How can your school take part?
- Teachers register for Mission Zero and receive a classroom code.
- Pupils write their programs and submit them using the classroom code.
- The programs are deployed and run on the International Space Station!
Pupils can enter individually or as part of a team of up to four young people. To find out more about how to take part, check the eligibility criteria and read the official guidelines on the Astro Pi website.
The European Astro Pi Challenge is an ESA Education project run in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Find out more on the Astro Pi website.