Number of players

At least 4 players, split into two teams.
One player is the ground controller, and the rest of their team are astronauts following their instructions. The astronauts have a busy schedule so they must not waste working hours taking photographs of the wrong places.
One player from the other team is a researcher, and the others are EO satellite controllers
The satellite is low on power so it should only collect and transmit data from specific targets.

What you need

You may NOT amend the cards or reproduce for commercial purposes.

How to play

Place 25 Earth from Space cards on the table in a 5 x 5 grid as shown in the picture at the top of this post.

  • Ground control and the researcher can see the mission card which shows the location of the targets for each team. (Each card can be used in 4 different ways, so they must agree which colour corresponds to which side of the table!) It also shows the position of some dangerous space debris. If either the space station or the satellite encounter this, they are severely damaged and the team immediately loses the game.
  • There are problems with communications that affect both teams, so the instructions that can be sent to the space station and the satellite operators must be coded as a single phrase of no more than three words and a number.
    The phrase will help to identify the relevant targets, and the number says how many of those targets the phrase applies to. The phrase must be based on the image only.
    Ground control sends a phrase and number to the astronaut(s).
  • If the astronaut(s) cannot decide which target or targets they should photograph (i.e. which ones ground control is talking about), they must let ground control know and wait for fresh instructions on their next turn.
    If they think they know any or all of the targets, they can point to one or more of the cards – up to the number they have been given by ground control.
  • Ground control places a marker on each card: an astronaut if it is one of their targets, a cubesat if it is one of the satellite’s targets, a sunrise marker if it wasn’t a target, and declare an emergency – and the end of the game – if the card shows a target beneath the space debris.
  • The researcher then follows the same procedure to send a phrase and number to the satellite control centre who do their best to acquire images of their targets in the same way as the astronauts. Once again, the researcher uses markers to indicate which targets have been imaged.
  • The astronauts then have another go …

The winners are the first team to have all eight of their targets identified.

The picture below shows what things might look like if:

  • ground control and the researcher were using the mission card on the right, with blue on top
  • the 25 Earth from Space cards were those shown in the main picture
  • ground control said ‘Black space, clouds, 3’ 
  • the researcher said  ‘Blue sea, land, 7’.

To make it quicker

Allow the communication window to be open for longer – i.e. allow a longer phrase.

To make it easier

Allow words or phrases that give clues about spot/band colour (e.g. azure, maroon) or the number of the card (e.g. factor five, prime).

To make it harder

Limit the time the astronauts/satellite controllers have to make their decision.