Blast off for Air Cadets with experiments chosen for space

IT really is three, two, one… blast off for Air Cadets of 2200 (Saddleworth) as they have been chosen to take part in two experiments in space.

The cadets won’t quite but putting on space suits and making the trip themselves – but instead their own experiments will be run on-board the International Space Station.


Cadets with Experiment Code

The group only began its space related activities about six months ago but 12 cadets jumped straight in to send computer codes to the International Space Station for the Astro Pi Mission Zero project.

The codes took temperature readings of the station’s atmosphere and delivered a message to the astronauts on-board.

And now a team of four cadets, aged 12-16, is taking their experiment to the next level after winning the Astro Pi Mission Space Lab competition.

The competition is run by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in collaboration with the European Space Agency, which invites school-aged children to design an experiment to be run aboard the International Space Station via an Astro Pi computer.

Teams that design a viable experiment at the first round are sent their own Astro Pi computer on which to code and test their experiment using the language Python.

The code is then sent to be judged by a panel of scientists from the European Space Agency and the best codes and ideas are chosen to be sent into space.


International Space Station

Delighted that his group designed one of the winning codes, Sgt ATC Daniel Howard, Officer In Charge, explained the aim of their experiment.

“The experiment designed by our cadets will take a series of images and videos from orbit, using a near infrared camera, which will filter light into infrared and visible blue light,” he said.

“The computer will record the location, date and time that each image is taken, allowing cadets to create a map of their data before analysis.

“The idea then is to process the images and videos to investigate the differences in levels of each type of light for a given area depending on the time of day, season and current weather pattern.

“We also hope to find a relationship between levels of infrared light and atmospheric pollution based upon the images proximity to urban areas.

“Once this data processing is completed, the cadets will write a report which will be submitted to the European Space Agency.”


Astro Pi Computer Used in Space

And once that is completed, the cadets will be straight on with a SUGRE-1 NASA Experiment they have been invited to take part in.

Sgt ATC Howard added: “Our participation with Sugre-1 came about completely by chance. Having sent out posts on social media regarding our Astro Pi success, we received information about the group to study collisions between particles in a micro-gravity environment.

“The particles in this case are miniatures created by schools and youth groups throughout the world, allowing budding scientists and engineers to get to grips with a real space mission.

“Our entry to this project is a miniature Astro Pi flight computer, which was designed using computer aided design software and then 3D printed and painted to make it look as close to the real thing as possible.

This will fly into space alongside roughly 200 other entries on April 4, 2018.

“It is hoped the miniatures will be collected and returned to their creators following the mission, along with a video of the designs floating in micro-gravity while in space.”

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