The names of the new Astro Pi computers are revealed

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We and our collaborators at ESA Education are delighted to announce that 17,168 programs written by young people from 26 countries have been successfully deployed on board the International Space Station (ISS) for the European Astro Pi Challenge 2021/22. And we can finally reveal the names of the two new and improved Astro Pi computers that Astro Pi participants have chosen.

Young people participating in this year’s Astro Pi Mission Zero had the chance to help name these two improved Astro Pi computers, which we sent to the ISS in December.

Astro Pi is more popular than ever with young people

A record 28,126 young people participated in the two Astro Pi Challenge 2021/22 missions. In addition to the 299 Mission Space Lab teams that achieved flight status with code they wrote for their science experiments this year, the youngsters wrote 16,869 Mission Zero programs that ran on the new Astro Pi computers. This is an incredible 84% increase over Mission Zero last year.

Mission Zero is perfect for beginner coders: participants follow our step-by-step instructions and write a simple program for the Astro Pis. The program takes a humidity reading aboard the ISS and displays it for astronauts. Entrants can also include a code to display their own unique message on the Astro Pi LED screens. The Mission Zero teams are very inventive, and youngsters have used the Astro Pis LED screen extensively to create pixel art:

Pixel art coded by youngsters in Astro Pi Mission Zero.
Sample pixel art images designed by Mission Zero 2021/22 teams for Astro Pis LED screens.

Each participant in Mission Zero receives a unique certificate indicating exactly where the ISS was in its orbital path when their program was executed:

New names for Astro Pi computers

This year, the deployment of all Mission Zero and Mission Space Lab programs was overseen by ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer. But before he could do that, he had first had an extra special task: unboxing and assembling the brand new Astro Pi units in microgravity.

Matthias catches Astro Pis in microgravity.

The first two Astro Pis, named Ed and Izzy, traveled to the ISS in 2015 as part of Tim Peake’s Principia mission. Since then, these two special Raspberry Pi computers have run programs written by more than 54,000 young people. They have done an amazing job and will return to Earth later in 2022.

This year’s European Astro Pi Challenge is the first to use the two all-new Astro Pi computers, which we sent to the ISS in December 2021. They’re packed with special features, expanding youngsters’ possibilities for new Mission experiences. SpaceLab. Executing the 17,168 programs of this year was the first task of the new Astro Pis.

Two Astro Pi units aboard the International Space Station.
The two new Astro Pi computers on board the ISS

All the young people who participated in Mission Zero this year had this unique opportunity: they were able to suggest and vote for the names of the two new Astro Pi computers. We received nearly 7,000 name suggestions.

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer has recorded a special message for all Astro Pi participants, revealing that the new Astro Pi computers will be named after two inspiring European scientists drum roll…Nikola Tesla and Marie Curie!

The Astro Pi unit with a high-quality near-infrared light-sensitive Raspberry Pi camera is now called Nikola Tesla, and the Astro Pi unit with a high-quality visible-light-sensitive camera is now called Marie Curia.

Marie Curie was born in Poland in 1867 and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, in physics and chemistry, for her contribution to pioneering work on radioactivity and the treatment of cancer. Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia in 1856, and his innovations in electrical engineering included alternating current – ​​vital for transmitting electricity over long distances – and the induction motor.

The work of Marie Curie and Nikola Tesla continues to impact all of our lives today, and we’re thrilled that this year’s Astro Pi entrants have democratically chosen their names for the new Astro Pi computers.

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The European Astro Pi Challenge will be back in September 2022. Subscribe to the Astro Pi newsletter on the Astro Pi website to be the first to know when the 2022/23 missions take off!

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