In the Spotlight

MARSBalloon, an innovative science-based project for young generations, is inspiring future careers in science and space

In the Spotlight

MARSBalloon, an innovative science-based project for young generations, is inspiring future careers in science and space

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    Students awarded for their scientific curiosity and creativity

    Led by space engineers in the UK from Thales Alenia Space, MARSBalloon is a hands-on science project for young students. Its primary goal is to harness young generations' curiosity about the world around them and demonstrate the exciting and varied opportunities in space, engineering and science careers.

    mars balloon picture capture

    The 2023 MARSBalloon mission launched over 200 student designed experiments on a high altitude balloon, reaching over 30km above Earth. During the flight, the experiments encountered Mars-like conditions, with temperatures plummeting to -50°C and pressures 1/100 to those experienced on Earth's surface.

    “We were delighted to receive more experiments than ever before – and with so many considered and well-designed experiments the competition for the different awards was incredibly fierce.” Said Drashti Shah, Thales Alenia Space Engineer and MARSBalloon Project Manager.

    Winners of the MARSBalloon 2023 mission

    mars balloon picture of the workshop

    Six outstanding winners were recognized for their innovation, engineering talent and creativity:
    • Llanharam Primary School – Best decorated
    • Kirkburton First CE School – Innovation award
    • Fowlmere Primary School – Engineer’s Choice award
    • St. Bernard’s High School – VIP’s choice award
    • Beaulieu Convent School – Innovation award
    • Bexley Grammar School – Engineer’s Choice award

    “Congratulations to the winners, and all those who took part in the Thales Alenia Space MARSBalloon project. This is a hugely exciting time to be involved in the space sector which has a fantastic variety of careers on offer right here in the UK. Getting children engaged in fun ways like this can inspire talented young people to consider future careers in science and engineering, to help bring benefits to people on Earth, protect our planet and explore the space above us.” Said Meganne Christian, Reserve Astronaut & Exploration Commercialisation Lead for the UK Space Agency

    Noteworthy achievement by St. Bernard’s High School

    St. Bernard’s High School in Westcliff-on-Sea secured the VIP award, selected by British ESA Astronaut Reserve Meganne Christian. Students submitted a sample of ancient microbial lifeforms, retrieved from Antarctica during the Scott Discovery expeditions more than a century ago, and provided by London’s Natural History Museum.
    Working in partnership with the National Orbyts programme and the University College London’s (UCL) Mullard Space Science Laboratory, St. Bernard’s High School was commended for the unique nature of the experiment, the relevance to future exploration of Mars and the historical ties to Captain Scott’s expedition.

    “Thales Alenia Space’s MARSBalloon provides a fantastic opportunity for scientists and school groups to work together. We have been thrilled to provide the samples for this work and to support the involvement of the next generation in real scientific experiments, which we are sure will inspire them to engage with science in the future. We cannot imagine what Captain Scott, whose expedition collected the microbial mats in 1902, would think if someone had said his samples would be sent to space to test methods to identify life on Mars!” commented Dr Louisa Preston, Lecturer in Planetary Science, UCL, Mullard Space Science Laboratory and scientific associate of the Natural History Museum.

    Towards MARSBalloon 2024

    “We are excited to already be planning next year’s mission, and we are hoping that 2024 will, yet again, break more records on the number of schools taking part.” Added Drashti Shah.

    Visit Registrations for 2024 MARSBalloon flight will open in January 2024.