Raspberry Pi strapped to a satellite takes stunning picture of Earth

(Image credit: Shutterstock/TechRadar)

A satellite company in the UK, SSTL, has sent a £50 (around $60/AU$90) Raspberry Pi Zero mini PC into space, where it has taken a stunning picture of the planet Earth.

SSTL attached the Raspberry Pi Zero to its Demonstration of Technology satellite (DoT-1), and the only modification the company made to the single board educational computer was that it swapped out the standard lens of the connected camera for a fish-eye one.

According to SSTL engineering director Rob Goddard, “We bought three (computers) and did some tests to see which one was performing the best – selected that and flew it... We put it in a metal box but fundamentally we didn't do anything to the Pi Zero.”

The results have been so impressive that the Guildford-based company is considering using Raspberry Pi computers (plus camera accessory) regularly.

One of the ways the Raspberry Pi attached to a satellite could be used is for taking selfies, allowing people back on Earth to inspect the satellite while it’s in space.

The image captured by the Raspberry Pi Zero

The image captured by the Raspberry Pi Zero (Image credit: SSTL)

To boldly go

We're huge fans of the Raspberry Pi here at TechRadar, with the mini PCs proving to be incredibly versatile and able to be used in a huge variety of projects – from DIY security cameras to retro games consoles – as well as being fantastic tools for teaching children how to code, and this news proves just how capable those tiny PCs are.

This isn't the first time that a Raspberry Pi has been sent into space. The European Agency has already sent two specially-designed Raspberry Pi PCs to the International Space Station (ISS).

One of the reasons Raspberry Pis are so well suited for working in space is not only are they very cheap, but they are small and light as well, meaning that they can be easily attached to spacecraft without adding additional weight.


Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.