British school triumphs with mini space probe

A British team came first and an Irish second in a European competition to design and build a space probe that could conduct useful experiments and fit inside a 350ml soft drink can.

The 'CanSat' competition was organised by ESA's education office and the Norwegian centre for space related education. Five Intruder rockets launched 11 CanSats from Skarsteindalen, a former military facility close to the Andøya Rocket Range, each reaching a height of 1km before parachuting the payloads back to earth.

The gold award winners were 'Team Eclipse' from St Paul's School in London, whose CanSat produced a wind profile of its descent to facilitate the accurate placement of the drop of a hypothetical second payload. How the CanSat is moved by the wind during its descent can be turned into accurate data about wind velocities at different altitudes. The payload included a GPS chip on a custom designed pcb and a digital compass.

The silver award winners were Triailliú from Laurel Hill Secondary School in Limerick. Their project was to measure air temperature, air pressure and levels of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to help indicate levels of pollution.

Tom Shelley

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