CAS Lead School pupil wins Astro-Pi

Computer programmes designed by school children will be boldly going where no amateur software has gone before when they are sent to the International Space Station as part of the Astro Pi project.

The competition, which was announced earlier this year, invited young people to design applications for the Raspberry Pi which could be sent to the space station as part of British astronaut Tim Peake's mission to the station, which begins in December.

He will be taking two specially-modfied Raspberry Pi's with him when he jets into orbit, and will use the software created by the ten winners to carry out experiments.

Judges gathered at Raspberry Pi HQ in Cambridge to test out some of the entries for themselves before selecting the winners.

"We're incredibly impressed with the exciting and innovative Astro Pi proposals we've received and look forward to seeing them in action aboard the International Space Station," said Jeremy Curtis, head of education at the UK Space Agency.
"Not only will these students be learning incredibly useful coding skills, but will get the chance to translate those skills into real experiments that will take place in the unique environment of space."

Among the successful entries was a piece of software designed by Kieran Wand, a year nine pupil at Cottenham Village College.

His program is an environmental system monitor that can be used to cross check the ISS's own life support system. It continually measures the temperature, pressure and humidity, and displays these in a cycling, split-screen display. It has the ability to raise alarms if these measurements move outside of acceptable parameters. We were especially impressed that code had been written to compensate for thermal transfer between the Pi CPU and Astro Pi sensors.

"Kieran entered the Astro-Pi competition on his own in January and worked very hard to create a useful computer program," said Andrea Tyrrell, head of the computing faculty at the college.
"To see Kieran's efforts going with the astronaut, Tim Peake, to the International space station is very exciting for everyone in the whole Cambridgeshire area as well as Cottenham Village College. We are delighted with his success."

Cottenham is a lead school in the Computing At School network, and uses Raspberry Pi's in the class room.

Andrea added: "We hope Kieran's success will be an inspiration to all of our students at Cottenham Village College.
"Kieran will be beginning his GCSE Computing course next year. This is proving to be a popular course at our school. He has made a great start by learning to code and creating something useful and imaginative. The college is so proud of his achievements and we will be closely monitoring his code when it is up in space."

Other winners include a radiation detector, that utilises the Raspberry Pi's camera and spaceCRAFT, a visualiser that logs data from the station and then reproduces it using the blocks from popular computer game Minecraft.

Doug Norris is from Satellite Space Technology, one of the companies involved in the judging process.

"We are delighted that the competition has reached so many school children and we hope that this inspires them to continue coding and look to Space for great career opportunities," he said.

Full details of the competition can be found at

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