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Observation of atmospheric gravity waves using a Raspberry Pi camera module on board the International Space Station

T. E. C. Magalhães, D. E. C. G. Silva, C. E. C. G. Silva, A. A. Dinis, J. P. M. Magalhães, T. M. Ribeiro

We identified and computed the horizontal wavelengths of atmospheric gravity waves in clouds using a visible camera installed on a window of the Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS) and controlled by a Raspberry Pi computer. The experiment was designed in the context of the Astro Pi challenge, a project run by ESA in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, where students are allowed the opportunity to write a code to be executed at the ISS. A code was developed to maximize the probability of capturing images of clouds while the ISS is orbiting the Earth. Several constraints had to be fulfilled such as the experiment duration limit (3 h) and the maximum data size (3 GB). After receiving the data from the ISS, small-scale gravity waves were observed in different regions in the northern hemisphere with horizontal wavelengths in the range of 3.9 to 5.1 km.

Atmospheric gravity waves Clouds Earth atmosphere Astro Pi Raspberry Pi Programming Education ISS

Acta Astronautica
Volume 182, Page 416
2021 May

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia