Winners of AstroPi competition chosen

Winners of AstroPi competition chosen

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By Nick Flaherty

The competition, run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the European Space Agency (ESA) Education, saw 154 teams of young people aged up to 19 create scientific experiments that ran on two Astro Pi computers — space-hardened Raspberry Pi single board computers with cameras and an array of sensors on the ISS.

In the final phase, the teams analysed the data captured during their experiment’s three-hour runtime on the ISS and write a short report describing their experiment’s hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions.

From these, the Astro Pi team selected 10 winners and 5 highly commended teams:

Zeus from Tudor Vianu National College of Computer Science in Romania used photos of Earth captured by the Astro Pi’s camera, historical data sets, and machine learning to develop a weather forecast system that predicts meteorological phenomena on Earth.

Mag-AZ from Escola Secundária Domingos Rebelo in Portugal attempted to create an algorithm that could calculate the location of the magnetic poles of any planet or star by using the Astro Pi’s sensors to map Earth’s magnetic fields.

Atlantes from Niubit Coding Club in Spain used a sonification process to convert data captured by the Astro Pi’s sensors into music, inspired by Commander Chris Hadfield’s performance of Space Oddity on the ISS in 2013, while Mateii from Saint Sava National College in Romania investigated the potential growth of Aspergillus and Penicillium mold on the ISS in comparison to on Earth using a simulation model and Astro Pi sensor readings taken inside the Columbus module.

Juno from Institut d’Altafulla in Spain attempted to determine how much heat the astronauts aboard the ISS experience by using temperature, pressure, and humidity data captured by the Astro Pi’s sensors together with psychrometric calculations while Albedo from Lycée Albert Camus in France, who investigated albedo on Earth, using photos captured by the Astro Pi’s camera to classify cloud, land, and sea coverage, and analysing their corresponding albedo values.

SpaceRad from Centrum Nauki Keplera – Planetarium Wenus in Poland also investigated the albedo (the proportion of light or radiation that is reflected by a surface) on Earth to evaluate the efficiency of using solar farms to combat climate change.

Magtrix from The Leys School in the UK analysed whether geographical features of Earth such as mountains affect the planet’s magnetic field using the Astro Pi’s magnetometer, GPS data, and photos of Earth captured by the Astro Pi’s camera while Mechabot from the Robone Robotics Club in Germany investigated how the Earth’s magnetic field correlates with its climate, and how this affects near-Earth objects’ behaviour in low-Earth orbit.

Spacepi2 from Zanneio Model High School in Greece compared photos captured by the Astro Pi’s camera with historical data using an automated photo classification program they created and NDVI analysis.

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The highly commended teams included Bergson from Lycée Henri-Bergson Paris in France, who built an AI model predicting nitrogen dioxide pollution levels on Earth using NDVI analysis of photos taken by the Astro Pi’s camera as well as LionTech from Mihai Eminescu National College, Oradea in Romania who attempted to measure the velocity of the ISS in orbit, and also created an algorithm to detect smoke, pollution, and types of cloud coverage in the images they captured using the Astro Pi’s camera.

RosSpace from Ceo Boecillo in Spain also investigated Earth’s albedo levels in relation to global warming using photo analysis, while Jupiter from Institut d’Altafulla in Spain looked at variations in the current surface area of water bodies on Earth compared to historical records as an indicator of climate change.

The team had a special mention for the Ultrafly Coding Club in Canada who were the youngest team to make the highly commended list this year, with an average age of 8! Their experiment explored whether the environmental variables on the ISS created allergy-friendly living conditions for the astronauts on board.

The prize for this year’s winners and highly commended teams is the chance to pose their questions to ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano during a webinar in September when a new competition starts.

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