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Why the Raspberry Pi Foundation Sent Its Computers Into Space

A photo of the Astro Pi with the Raspberry Pi logo.
Raspberry Pi Foundation

Don’t tell the collectors, but there’s one Raspberry Pi you can’t buy. The Raspberry Pi Foundation sent a handful of Astro Pi units to the ISS back in 2015, and now, upgraded 2021 models are floating around with astronauts and freeze-dried ice cream. But why do we need Raspberry Pi computers in space?

The Raspberry Pi foundation doesn’t just cater to pimple-faced nerds. Its goal, as a foundation, is to inspire and educate young children using cheap and simple computers. This goal just happens to intersect with the European Space Agency (ESA) Education initiative, which hopes to get children excited for outer space, science, programming, and technology.

A collaboration between the Pi Foundation and ESA was inevitable, and in 2015, it happened. The Pi Foundation developed space-ready Astro Pi units for a “Mission Zero” educational program, which lets kids participate in scientific studies on the ISS.

The second-generation Astro Pi computers contain the latest Raspberry Pi 4 hardware. Plus, they have an anodized aluminum shell, a 5mm camera, and a bright LED display.

Kids who join the Mission Zero program go through a short programming course—it lasts about an hour. But by the end, they’ll use their code to take a humidity reading on the ISS. This reading is shared with astronauts along with a custom message, which kids can write for the Astro Pi’s LED display.

You don’t need any programming knowledge to participate in Mission Zero, though you need to be 19 or younger and a resident of the ESA Member States. A teacher or mentor needs to register with the program first, of course. Sign-ups for Mission Zero end March 18th.

Source: Raspberry Pi Foundation

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »