Pi In The Sky

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has today released an image and video of the Earth, as seen through the fish-eye lens of an orbiting Raspberry Pi Zero.

The SSTL team built the Raspberry Pi Zero into a demonstration technology satellite called DoT-1, which was launched on a Soyuz rocket in July. The 17.5Kg self-funded satellite is designed to showcase SSTL’s new Core Data Handling System (Core-DHS), which provides the same level of functionality as SSTL’s heritage equivalent avionics stack, but with a significantly reduced mass and volume, and it consolidates the S-Band Transmitter and Receiver, Global Positioning System, Attitude & Orbit Control System, Interface Module and Bridge and On Board Computer into one module.

The Pi itself is an off-the-shelf setup, with the only difference being a fish-eye lens attached, and contained inside a metal case. The overall cost of the Pi-side of the setup was £50, and the Guilford team is considering sending more Pi-enabled satellites up in the future.

Sarah Parker, Managing Director of SSTL said “I am delighted with the success of our new Core-DHS based avionics which, will give our customers the benefits of our heritage avionics stack but in a lower form factor to deliver improved power consumption and lower launch costs.

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 equipment, and also for outreach activities.”

PiSky1

We’ve already seen the Raspberry Pi used outside of our planet. The European Space Agency sent two Raspberry Pi’s to the International Space Station a few years ago, encased in rugged units designed to survive the rigours of long-term space exposure.

After capturing the image, with the Pi’s camera, the data was stored on the Raspberry Pi itself and then downlinked to SSTL’s ground station in Guildford via the Core-DHS. The video can be viewed at https://youtu.be/SzmKks0nqTU.

This is a fantastic project, and one that will certainly help promote science and engineering. For more information visit the SSTL site at https://www.sstl.co.uk/.

*All images credited to SSTL.

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David Hayward

David has spent most of his life tinkering with technology, from the ZX Spectrum, getting his hands on a Fujitsu VPP5000/100 supercomputer, and coding on an overheating Raspberry Pi. He's written for the likes of Micro Mart, Den of Geek, and countless retro sites and publications, covering reviews, creating code and bench testing the latest tech. He also has a huge collection of cables.

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