Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, is encouraging schools to register to get their students involved in an exciting new STEM programme supporting space exploration.
The MARSBalloon project is designed to give young people practical experience of designing and testing things to go into space that could one day be destined for Mars.
Thales Alenia Space’s MARSBalloon team will launch a high altitude balloon to an altitude of 30km, more than twice the height of commercial airliners, where they will be above 99% of Earth’s atmosphere.
Students can work to together to create Mars experiments that fit inside a small egg shaped capsule, which you post to Thales Alenia Space so they can include them in the launch. Along the way they will experience conditions very similar to the surface of Mars including temperatures of -50°C, pressures 1/100th that of sea level and an increased radiation dose.
This allows young people to test the response of electronics, materials, plants and even food to the conditions outside of a future Mars base, helping future explorers to prepare for this strange and hostile environment.
After the balloon’s flight, the MARSBalloon team will track the landing and recover the experiments, allowing them to be returned to the students for analysis. Pictures and video of the flight are also made available so entrants can watch and see what happens to their experiments during the flight.
Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, said: "This is an incredibly exciting project for young people in Milton Keynes to be able to get involved in and STEM skills are absolutely critical to support the economy in MK right now and in the future.
"So unleash your inner space explorer and level up your skills!"
It is open to secondary and primary age pupils all across the UK and there is no cost to take part in the project other than that of experiment materials and postage.
This year’s MARSBalloon project will also have a competitive element, with prizes being awarded for Best Innovation, Best Decoration, Engineers Choice and VIP Judge’s Choice.
The deadline for registration is 1st April 2022 with the launch of the balloon in early June.
Group leaders can find out more about the Mars Balloon experiment and download the information pack here: https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/futuremartians