Five teams of Romanian students qualified into the final phase of the “Astro Pi” space competition, organised by the European Space Agency (ESA) and promoted in Romania by ESERO Romania, the European Space Education Resource Office — a joint project of ESA and the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA).
The challenge for all European students aged up to 16 years old was to design a science experiment that runs using the Astro Pi sensors of a computer on board the International Space Station (ISS) and to write the code in order for Astro Pi to execute the experiment.
The five Romanian teams entering the “Astro Pi” space competition finals are: “Astro Vianu Team” and “Star Gazers”, Tudor Vianu National College for Informatics, Bucharest; “Cosmos Dream”, Nicolae Balcescu Theoretical High-School, Cluj-Napoca; “Carmen Sylva Astro Pi”, Carmen Sylva Theoretical High-School, Eforie Sud; “MiBus researchers”, Mihai Busuioc Technology High-School, Pascani.
The experiments of the five Romanian teams, together with codes from 12 other ESA Member States, have been selected from more than 180 applications by a professional jury of representatives from ESA and the Raspberry Pi Foundation, after two preliminary stages.
In the first stage, students were invited to put forward an experiment idea that could be run on the Astro Pi computer — operating on the International Space Station, and its SenseHAT sensors. In the second stage, astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who is currently on board the International Space Station, provided each selected team with a science mission that will take place on the ISS, using Ed, the Astro Pi computer. In order to accomplish the objectives of the mission, the participants had to define the steps of the scientific experiment and to write the Astro Pi code using Phyton. Applications were evaluated based on criteria such as: scientific value, innovation, feasibility of the mission on the ISS, code clarity and quality.
Once sent to the ISS, the codes of the qualified teams run on the Astro Pi computer based in the Columbus module. On 15 May 2017, the results of the experiments will be published, and astronaut Thomas Pesquet will comment on the results. The data collected in outer space will be downloaded and sent to Earth, where they will be analysed by the participating teams.
Promoting the “Astro Pi” competition at national level in Romania is the responsibility of ESERO Romania. ESERO (European Space Education Resource Office) is a joint project of the European Space Agency (ESA) and its national partners — in Romania, the national partner is the Romanian Space Agency (ROSA). ESERO is the main ESA project dedicated to supporting education at secondary level in ESA’s Member States.
The ESERO offices promote ESA competitions at a European level and they are the main contact points for teachers and students. The ESERO project raises the awareness of the younger generation on the European space programme and over its importance for the modern society and economy.