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New Space Adventures for the TALOS Team of the University of Thessaly

New Space Adventures for the TALOS Team of the University of Thessaly


In March 2017 five teams from Greek schools had the honour of being among the 45 winning teams selected to participate in the third phase of the first European Astro Pi competition, as announced by the European Space Agency (ESA). The students of these teams saw their experiments being performed at the International Space Station (ISS).

The competition included a total of 184 teams from 15 European countries and more than 1,800 students designed experiments for the ISS (International Space Station).

The five teams from Greece that participated in the final phase of the competition were: TALOS ed-UTH-robotix (Laboratories of Educational Robotics of University of Thessaly), Weightless Mass (Intercultural High School of Evosmos), 49th Astro Pi Teamwork (49th Primary School of Patras), Astro Traveller (12th Primary School of Petroupolis) and GKGF-1 (High School of Kanthos).

Astro Pi is the name of a small computer developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, in collaboration with the United Kingdom Space Agency and ESA (European Space Agency). There are already two Astro Pi on the International Space Station, where they are equipped with sensors that can be used to "run" scientific experiments. The first Astro Pi competition had as a goal for the students to design a scientific experiment that can "run" using Astro Pi sensors and write the programming code of Astro Pi so that this experiment could be performed on the ISS. The data generated by the experiments in space would be sent back to Earth and be distributed to the teams. Thus the students had the opportunity to work as real scientists and to analyze data collected in space.

In October 2017 TALOS students attending programming and algorithmic thinking courses took part in ESA's Astro Pi Competition with the aim of running the code of their experiments on ISS!

Our team's name this year is ASTROCODE and the idea submitted as a proposal in the first phase of the competition concerns the detection of ISS oscillations or rotations around its axis due to various causes such as possible cargo shift, connection to another space vehicle, accidental impact with a micrometeorite, change of solar collectors’ position etc. For the detection of all the above and the trigger of appropriate alarms, in case of violation of measurement values beyond the acceptable limits, the accelerometer and gyroscope sensors will be used.

The equipment that pupils will have at their disposal is a special sensor breadboard called Raspberry Pi SenseHat.

ESA (European Space Agency) informed us that our idea qualified for Phase 2, during which (7/11/2017) - 7/2/2018 our students will write their code and will plan Astro Pi to run their experiment at the International Space Station (ISS).

The third phase will concern data analysis and qualitative conclusions. Yet another great success for the TALOS team, the instructors, the children and the University of Thessaly along with the great prominence that will be given through this competition.

We, for our part, wish good luck to our programmers and our little astro-scientists!