David Saint Jacques launches Astro Pi challenge today

Canadian astronaut on the ISS will be kicking off coding competition for kids across the country, live from space!
astro pi Astronaut David Saint Jacques has a coding challenge for Canadians coast to coast! (NASA)

Back on December 4, astronaut David Saint Jacques became the first Canadian on the International Space Station (ISS) since Chris Hadfield. He's now coming up on two months in space, and, by all accounts, things are going great! But if you were hoping to get an update from the man himself, then Thursday, January 31—a.k.a. today—is your lucky day.

Saint Jacques will be holding a live event on YouTube and Facebook at 12:50pm EST/9:50am PST! Of course, he's not just checking in for idle chit chat. He's a busy man! But if you're a fan of space, science, and computers, you're going to be stoked with what he has planned. Today he is launching the Astro Pi challenge in Canada. What's that, you ask?

Gather 'round, coders ...

Bringing your ideas to space

The Astro Pi challenge is a joint program between the European Space Agency (ESA), Kids Code Jeunesse, and the Canadian Space Agency. The idea is to get students to form teams of fellow classmates to write programs that will be run in space on the ISS' unique Raspberry Pi computers, known as Astro Pis.

Saint Jacques will be joined in the live stream by Earth-bound fellow astronaut Joshua Kutryk. Kutryk will then lead his own presentation to Grade 10 students at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver at 12:30pm PST. As for the Astro Pi challenge itself, there are two categories.

  • Mission Zero teams of two to four students 14 years or younger will write a program to display a message on the Astro Pi on board the ISS.
  • Mission Space Lab is open to teams of two to six students up to 19 years of age. These groups will write and program experiments for astronauts to run—the best ones will be selected to actually be conducted on the ISS!

If you want to watch the live stream, you can do so here. And if you choose to enter, good luck!

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