(Yet Another) Raspberry Pi in Space!

It’s perhaps a bit surprising how many Raspberry Pi boards have made it to space. Totally ignoring all the Raspberry Pi boards that make it into space the cheap and cheerful way on a high-altitude balloon, there are at least two aboard the International Space Station in use by the astronauts, and another two running cryptography experiments for ESA.

There are others, but they were joined in July by yet another Raspberry Pi that was carried to orbit by a Russian Soyuz-2–1b Fregat-M rocket into a solar synchronous orbit.

Image of the Mediterranean acquired by SSTL’s DoT-1 satellite on August 19, 2019. (📷: SSTL)

Launched aboard SSTL’s DoT-1 satellite, the Raspberry Pi Zero was a secondary payload on board the satellite. Equipped with a Raspberry Pi Camera Module and a DesignSpark M12 Mount Lens, the board was sent into orbit in a more-or-less off-the-shelf configuration with minimal modifications.

“…the 17.5kg self-funded DoT-1 satellite is to demonstrate SSTL’s new Core Data Handling System (Core-DHS), accommodation was made available for some additional experimental payloads including the Raspberry Pi camera experiment which was designed and implemented in conjunction with the Surrey Space Centre. After image capture using the Raspberry Pi camera, the data was stored on the Raspberry Pi computer and then downlinked to SSTL’s ground station in Guildford via the new Core-DHS.”

DoT-1 satellite, launched July 2019. (📷:SSTL/Kathryn Graham)

“I am delighted with the success of our new Core-DHS based avionics… the success of the Raspberry Pi camera experiment is an added bonus which we can now evaluate for future missions where it could be utilised for spacecraft ‘selfies’ to check the operation of key equipments, and also for outreach activities.”—Sarah Parker, Managing Director of SSTL

Video of the Earth captured from Low Earth Orbit. (📹: SSTLTV)

In other words, it sounds like a Raspberry Pi Zero and camera might now be standard equipment for future SSTL small satellites.

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Author: Alasdair Allan

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