Astro Pi Mission Space Lab update 2023/24

We receive from Astro Pi Mission Control and share:

Dear Astro Pi mentors, 

We hope you’ve enjoyed your summer and the new school year has started well for you. Today we’re telling you about some exciting updates for Astro Pi Mission Space Lab 2023/24 to help you plan and prepare for this new cycle.

Mission Space Lab updates 

Mission Space Lab has changed for 2023/24: We have listened to feedback from teams and mentors and are making the mission more accessible for you all, while continuing to give teams the chance to go above and beyond if they want to stretch their creativity and skills.

This year, ESA astronauts are setting teams a scientific task: Mission Space Lab teams need to use their knowledge and problem-solving skills to calculate how fast the ISS is moving as it orbits Earth.

There are lots of creative ways in which your teams can gather and use data from the Astro Pis’ sensors and camera to solve this task. Mission Control will assess teams’ programs according to how accurately teams calculate the speed of the ISS, and how innovative their approach to gathering data for the calculation is.

We are pleased that the new format will enable more young people to take part in Mission Space Lab: teams of beginner programmers now have the chance to successfully participate by following the guide we will provide, which will show one possible approach to the task. At the same time, teams with more programming experience can come up with their own unique solution.

Another update this year is that teams will be able to test their programs on all Windows, macOS, or Linux computers. To help make this possible, we’ve created a new Python library that lets teams simulate their program’s run on the ISS and returns historic sensor data or photos captured by the Astro Pis on previous missions for the calculation. Teams will be able to download and run this library on any available computer.

We’re also excited that this year we will be able to run many more teams’ programs so that more young people can have the amazing experience of running an actual science experiment in space. If we receive more programs from teams than we can run in the allocated Astro Pi time window on board the ISS, we will select programs based on their innovation and accuracy.

Finally, this year all Mission Space Lab teams whose programs are eligible to run on the ISS will get an invitation to join a virtual Q&A with an ESA astronaut. That means this inspiring opportunity will be open to many more young people than in previous years.

Mission Space Lab timeline 

Mission Space Lab will open for program submissions on 6 November. You can already start supporting your team to design their program now. How will your team approach this task? What data could they capture with the Astro Pis, and how will they use it to calculate the speed at which the ISS is travelling? We can’t wait to see the creative solutions your teams come up with! 

  • 6 November 2023: Registration opens
  • 19 February 2024: Deadline for submissions
  • April 2024: Mission ‘flight status’ updates
  • June 2024: Certificates sent to teams

Help us spread the news 

As a supporter of Astro Pi Mission Space Lab, we would love for you to participate again this year. We also hope that you pass on the news about Mission Space Lab becoming more accessible to all the young people and potential mentors you know. By spreading the news, you will help open up the amazing opportunity of running a science experiment in space to many more young people.
We’d be delighted if you take part in Mission Space Lab again this year, and please let us know what you think of the changes we’ve made in response to the Astro Pi community’s feedback. Your feedback is important to us: it will help us continue to make Mission Space Lab an out-of-this-world experience for young people.

Good luck, space explorers!

Astro Pi Mission Control

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