Last week-end, 68 passionate teenagers from Portugal, Spain, France as well as from Ireland to Turkey and from Norway to Romania have joined online to design a scientific space mission to Europa. Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo in 1610, is known to possess liquid water lakes under its cold surface, and is considered one of the possible places in the Solar System that could host life. Located in the year 2121, the project was sponsored by a Foundation Society keen to send hundreds of scientists and crew members to search for life and to preserve the moon’s ecosystem, if there was any.
The students gathered in three competing teams to propose the best design to the Foundation Society. They worked as a company would, sharing the heavy workload between specialized sub-teams and coordinating their progress. A team of volunteers helped the teenagers understand the physics and constraints imposed by interplanetary travel and settlement.
Established by the UK organization SSEF and the International Space University, sponsored by EUSDC, the competition was open to all continental Europeans aged 15-18. Supported by national space agencies and organizations like Ciênca Viva of Portugal, it allowed these young Europeans to perform STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) activities outside of the school curriculum.
Participants were pleased with their weekend’s work. Maria described her experience in these words: “This was a great experience! We could learn, have fun and meet people from different countries that we would never have met without this project! I’m definitively joining next year!” David wrote: “A very nice experience which I probably won’t forget! Ups and downs just like real life situations”.
In the end only one team won, but all were praised by the jury which had a hard time selecting the winner. Twelve participants will join the final, organized at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (both online and on site).