Students are invited to participate at the Astro Pi challenge

on 27 October 2016

The Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) invites teams of Romanian students with ages of 16 years old and below, to participate at the first European Astro Pi competition, organised by the European Space Agency (ESA). The challenge consists of running experiments on the International Space Station (ISS). Thomas Pesquet, ESA astronaut, has recently launched the Astro Pi competition and when he will get on board of the ISS as a part of his Proxima mission, he will assist the competition. 


What is Astro Pi?

Astro Pi is a small computer, developed by Raspberry Pi Foundation, in collaboration with the United Kingdom Space Agency and ESA. At the moment, there are two Astro Pi computers, named Ed and Izzy, which are qualified for spaceflight. They are equipped with a set of sensors which can be used for various scientific experiments. The sensors, called Sense HAT, can sense the movement, measure the temperature, humidity, pression and detect radiations.. We invite you to discover more on Astro Pi’s sensors here, but also to test the computer’s simulator.

Participate at the Astro Pi competition!

Students with an age of maximum 16 years old are invited to participate in the competition by writing a code for Ed’s sensors. Later on, the computer will run the experiment on the ISS.

The deadline to receive the students’ applications is 13 November 2016.

Astro Pi is divided into three phases and, to enter the phase 2 and phase 3, the participants have to complete the requirements of the first stage.

Phase 1 – Warm-up stage

In the first phase, ESA wants the participants to have a clear image on the Astro Pi’s integrate functions and thus, on the experiments which can be carried out through it.

The phase requires the participants to present a coding idea which can become an experiment that must also include the Astro Pi’s sensors. The students have to fill a form where they can present their idea, without introducing the coding part.

The experiment can be related to any aspect on the life on ISS. You may access this link for more ideas referring to the usage of the Astro Pi.

The teams have to be coordinated by a teacher, and he or she can offer more details and ideas, which are available here.

ESA encourages rich, creative and original ideas, which will offer greater changes of being selected in the next stage of the contest. Those selected in the second phase will receive at their school an Astro Pi kit.

The deadline to enroll in the first stage of the competition is 13 November, and those who will be selected in the second phase will receive a confirmation on 25 November.

Phase 2 – writing the code and accepting the ESA mission

The second phase of the challenge will take place between 25 November 2016 – 28 February 2017, when Thomas Pesquet will delegate specific missions to each participating team. The objectives of this phase are:

- Establishing the stages of the scientific experiment;
- Writing the Astro Pi code, by using the “Python” programming language.

Even if the participants are not very familiar with writing programming languages, ESA will provide useful materials on writing a code. The information will become available no later than 21 November 2016.

Phase 3 – choosing the best codes and running the experiments

The third stage of the competition, held between 1 March 2017 – 15 May 2017, will consist of choosing the best coding programmes. The selection will be performed at a national level for each ESA Member State and the selected codes will be sent to ISS for running the experiment. The results of the experiments will be presented on 15 May by Thomas Pesquet, the ESA astronaut.

Who can participate?

ESA welcomes students who have a maximum age of 16 years old, organised in teams coordinated by a teacher. The students have to be citizens of the ESA Member States. Romania is an ESA Member State.

Romanian teams are invited to fill this form, in which they will provide details referring to their teacher, their school and the team. They are also required to fill a form written in English, describing their experiment.

Those who want further details can write an e-mail on the “European Astro Pi Challenge” topic at teachers @

Image credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation