The Astro Pi project, which saw a pair of Raspberry Pi computers shot into space to live aboard the ISS running experiments written by schoolchildren, is getting an upgrade to the latest Raspberry Pi 4 board.
Known as Izzy and Ed, the original computers saw almost 15,000 under 19s from all over Europe carry out experiments in the last year alone. The Mark II machines – a pair of 8GB Raspberry Pi 4 boards fitted with Sense HATs (breakout boards designed for basic collection of sensor data), high-quality cameras, and a Coral USB Accelerator for machine learning tasks – currently known as VIS (for visible light Earth-observation photography) and IR (for near-infrared Earth observation uses), though new names will be voted on by project participants.
The Pi boards are placed within specially designed aluminum cases to protect them from the rigors of space station life. The cases are designed to act as heatsinks for the Raspberry Pi 4, and to provide a simple means of input. All of the equipment being sent to the ISS has to undergo rigorous testing before they are confirmed as ready for use and will travel to the ISS in December this year on the SpaceX Dragon Cargo rocket, launching from Kennedy Space Center.