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Ground Control to Micro:bit

BBC Microbit Weather Balloon | Atmosphere diagram

106,000ft is around 32km. Watch out for those meteors!

This might be the coolest BBC micro:bit project we've seen so far. Certainly the winner of 'Most Out of This World'. Pete Bell, Chief Examiner GCSE ICT and CAS Master Teacher, and some pupils from Rishworth School sent a micro:bit into space!

Rising to an incredible 32,351 metres (106,138 feet 5.412 inches), the intrepid micro:bit shot into the stratosphere, with a little Lego astronaut for company.

Once in the air the device ran animation and temperature sensor values. It reached a mean -45.4°c but landed in working condition – perhaps this is the start of some extreme micro:bit challenges? This isn't the first time the BBC micro:bit has had to deal with subzero temperatures: the Macaroni micro:bit is currently chilling  at an Antarctic research station! It's there as part of the micro:bit World Tour. If you want to read more about that project don't worry, we've got you covered.

Scientist Sam asked Pete Bell a couple of questions about the extraterrestrial mission.

Micro:bit Gadgets
How did the project work?

Pete Bell
We used a 1200g Helium balloon and suspended a parachute under it, with the module under that. One of my 11 year old students wrote a program that displayed an animation and readings from the temperature sensor.

Why (aside from the obvious cool factor) did you want to send a micro:bit into space?

The only real aim for the programme was to get students involved in a project that would stretch them and give them an opportunity to indulge their intellectual curiosity. Of course, we had many sub-aims, most importantly retrieving the module without it crashing into the sea! We planned to take photos, video and sensor readings too and the fact that we achieved all of those was amazing. I had a secret goal of getting above 100,000ft (it's a nice round number, right?) and we beat that by over 6000ft, so I am chuffed to bits!


What other equipment was on board?

Raspberry Pi GadgetsPB
We flew a Raspberry Pi A+ computer with a Pi In The Sky Telemetry daughter board, external temperature sensor, 1080p camera and Sense Hat. We also had a second RPi A+ with another 1080p camera facing the opposite direction to make sure we captured as much as possible. Aside from the battery packs for all that, we also included a school tie for a girl in the school, three custom-made badges and small pieces of paper with students' names on. All of that was a result of competitions we ran in school a few months ago.

What're your micro:bit plans for the future? The sky clearly isn't the limit!

The team has some plans, but they are top secret at the moment ;) We aim to launch again in May. Watch this SPACE!

Interview by Micro:bit Gadget's Sam Rowe


STEM Learning have some pretty cool resources and activities about the BBC micro:bit and space. Why take a look and see if you can find a place for the micro:bit amongst the stars.

Take a look at the astro:bit in action!