Innovative experiment by Perse pupils set to go into orbit

A team of Perse pupils will see their excellent experiment go extra-terrestrial following success in the European Astro Pi Challenge competition.

Using Raspberry Pi computers, teams were challenged with designing and coding programs for innovative experiments on the theme ‘Life on Earth’ that could run from the International Space Station (ISS).

Year 11 pupils Marcus Wentzell, Tom Hammond and Dhruv Radhakrishnan earned ‘flight status’ with their project, which aims to predict rates of dengue fever across the globe, with their experiment set to run on the ISS during the next month.

They were delighted to discover their program, which will take images of Earth every 10 seconds over a three-hour period, had been chosen after working on it for several months.

Marcus said he had been inspired to get involved in the Astro Pi Challenge after speaking to Sourish Sharma and Dominic Rogers (both Lower Sixth), whose experiment had successfully run on the ISS during last year’s competition.

He drafted in Tom and Dhruv to help work on the project, while Sourish and Dominic provided encouragement based on their experience along the way.

Marcus said: “Our project aims to predict rates of dengue fever by taking pictures of Earth from the ISS and then use a machine learning model to correlate between the amount of vegetation and the disease.

“We are looking at the vegetation levels because mosquitoes spread dengue fever and they require areas of high vegetation to live.”

Once they receive their data from the ISS, Marcus, Tom and Dhruv will produce a report based on their findings, and assessing what worked and what could be improved in their experiment.

Marcus said: “Hopefully it will find applicable data which could have a use in disease reduction if it’s spreading over a particular range because of factors such as climate change.”


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