As someone who loves space, this last week has been another exciting one in our exploration of space. The Rosetta spacecraft which launched when I was a teenager in 1997 came to the end of its mission, crashing into comet 67P. This amazing mission is a testament to the power of STEM. Engineers in the 1980s designed and built Rosetta, scientists decided which what comet it was to chase and what data the Rosetta instruments would rather. Technologist dreamt up new sensors and materials that could withstand a journey of many years and the impact of the space environment and it was advanced mathematicians that performed the calculations that help Rosetta both meet the comment and subsequently intentionally crash into it.
Given that Rosetta’s mission came to an end, you may be asking the relevance to our Young Engineers. Well as one interplanetary mission comes to an end so to does another adventure begin. The European Space Agency (ESA) is currently developing JUICE, a mission to explore the moons of Jupiter. Due to launch in 2022 and drive at Jupiter 2030. This mission is the the one that our Young Engineers will hear about when they are in their 20s. It is the kind of mission that our young people could end up working on. Here in the UK we are building an instrument to examine the oceans of Jupiter’s moons. People working on this project will use the full range of STEM subjects and skills. There are numerous problems to solve, from how to fuel the spacecraft for such a long journey to how to transmit data back or even how to keep the satellite at the right temperature.
If you’re young engineer loves space or is inspired by the idea of a space career then they will find a lot of school friendly ideas and projects on the ESA website, including the chance to learn how to fly a satellite.