Former astronaut readies CanSat competition for take-off

ESERO-CEIA CanSat competition 2015 launch
Former NASA astronaut Greg Johnson with Lauren Cosgrave, Kylemore College, Ballyfermot

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3 December 2014 | 0

Former NASA Astronaut Helps Launch Unique Space Competition For Irish Secondary School Students

Former NASA astronaut Greg Johnson was in Ireland today to mark the opening of entries for a competition that sees satellites made from soft drinks cans take to the skies.

The ESERO Ireland-CEIA CanSat competition sees teams of senior cycle students participate in a real space project by building a CanSat – a simulation of a satellite which fits into the volume of a can. Participating teams will launch their CanSats in regional finals across Ireland next year, with the winner of the national competition going on to compete in the European final in Portugal in June 2015.

The test for participating secondary school students – working with mentors from third level and industry partners – is to include all the major subsystems found in a satellite such as a computer, power, sensors and a communication system.
All teams are supplied with CanSat kits sponsored by leading space sector companies Arralis and ENBIO.

The CanSat is launched to an altitude of a few hundred metres by a rocket and must accomplish a primary mission to measure temperature, air pressure, transmit the data to the ground station and achieve a safe landing.

Secondary missions can be devised by individual teams and in previous years included using a GPS module to track the CanSat position and measuring wind shear using a custom built anemometer.

Teams work together at all stages of the process – designing the CanSat, selecting its mission, integrating the components, testing, preparing for launch, receiving the data on the ground and then analysing and presenting the data to a panel of judges.

Irish students have achieved notable success in previous CanSat competitions, run by the European Space Agency. Last year, the winners of the national CanSat competition, a team from Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick, succeeded in securing third place at the European CanSat finals in Norway.

Former NASA astronaut and current president and executive director for the Centre for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) Greg Johnson said: “For students, a career in the space industry can sometimes seem beyond the bounds of possibility. In Europe, there are over 30,000 employees in space manufacturing alone with a number of well-established companies based in Ireland. The CanSat competition brings space science to life for students in a meaningful, hands-on way, giving them a taste of the skills required for this thriving industry.”

CanSat is a joint collaboration between ESERO Ireland and Cork Electronics Industry Association, and is co-funded by the European Space Agency and Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. For more information visit http://www.cansat.eu/.

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