Raspberry Pi ISS Model Mimics Real ISS

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: ISS MIMIC)

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what the International Space Station (ISS) was doing, then this is the project for you. The team behind the ISS Mimic project has created a 1:100 scale replica of the spacecraft that articulates automatically with a little help from a Raspberry Pi based on what the actual ISS is doing in real-time.  Best of all, the project is open source so you can make it yourself at home.

Much of the model is 3D-printed which makes it easy to modify as well as duplicate. Everything from the radiators and solar arrays are printed. Not only does it use our favorite SBC, the Raspberry Pi, it also uses an Arduino. According to the team, the idea was to use tools that are accessible to both newcomers and experienced space enthusiasts alike.

Data used in the project is taken directly from NASA. The Raspberry Pi uses this telemetry data to orient the model to match that real ISS. The Pi also outputs data to a display so you can see more information about the ISS in real time. The team also explained that they’re looking for people to help refine the project.

The idea for this project was kindled years ago when NASA started making data about the ISS publicly available in their project called ISSlive. Data was shared using a platform called lightstreamer. Thankfully, members of this team have been able to help maintain lightstreamer despite ISSlive no longer being active.

The project relies on 12 individual motors to adjust the solar arrays and radiators. The team confirmed that the ISS Mimic is still a work in progress. You can find the source code for the project at GitHub but the team is interested in improving the efficiency of the project — so you may want to follow them for future updates.

If you want to get a close look at this Raspberry Pi project, check out the official ISS Mimic website. There you’ll find plenty of details about how the project works and how it came to be.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.