Catmose Computer Scientists send programme to space

In October 2019 a group of 5 Year 10 GCSE computer science students took part in took part in the AstroPi Mission Space Lab challenge.

The challenge was set for students aged up to 19, from across Europe and beyond, to write code for astronauts to run on the Raspberry Pi computers aboard the International Space Station. The Astro Pi Mission Spacelab  aims to inspire students to extend their learning beyond the classroom. to extend their learning beyond the classroom.

The team were responsible for all aspects of the project, they proposed the hypothesis, designed the data collection and analysis programmes as well as writing up the report to explain their findings. At every stage there were eliminations as each element had to meet certain criteria. Their teacher Mrs Deacon was available to help facilitate and ensure they met deadlines, but the bulk of the work was as a direct result of the students’ diligence and hard work.

The hypothesis:
The Coriolis Effect is how the earth’s spin affects the movement of the weather around the world. It states that any weather bodies above the equator travel further north, however anything below the equator travels further south. We hypothesise that by tracking the movement of weather bodies and plotting it onto a map we would be able to prove that weather does indeed follow the trend of the Coriolis Effect.

The Team:
Team Liberte consists of 5 students. Our engineers, Leon and Hayden worked with Mr Thompson from our DT team to plan, price and build their own raspberry pi computer, called an Astro Pi using the schools 3D printer. Each Astro Pi has a camera, an LED display, buttons, and a joystick. They also have a range of environmental sensors: a gyroscope, a magnetometer, an accelerometer, and sensors measuring humidity, pressure, and temperature.

Harry and Mateusz both worked on the programming and analysis and analysis aspects of the challenge learning the critical skill of learning the critical skill of collaboration and compromise and compromise. The team as a whole spent evening in school testing the program and working out any errors. The team as a whole spent evenings in school testing the programme and working out any errors. And finally myself the Project Manager Seb had the challenging task of keeping to deadlines, co-ordinating meetings around timetables and eventually during lockdown as well as writing the final report and this article. As a team we have learned how essential each member is and how to plan, work to specified criteria and tight deadline. We have learnt that even though we were faced with a difficult time like national lockdown we were able to be resilient and find a way to work together from home. We are very grateful for this opportunity from the European Space Association to extend our learning and experience in a way that would otherwise have been unimaginable.

Needless to say we are thrilled to have been chosen as one of the ten winning teams in the competition, sharing the title with only one other team from the UK! As part of our prize we were given the chance to record a question for Luca Parmitano who has recently returned from the ISS. The team received a principal’s commendation for their outstanding achievement. see the recoded live session at: