Portsmouth High School girls were delighted to take part in a Mission to Mars competition where they put their engineering and scientific skills to the test.
In October last year the Lower Sixth physicists entered The Blott Matthews Challenge: Mission to Mars. The aim was to come up with an exploration objective and design a spacecraft for a manned mission to Mars. They have spent the last five months, alongside their A level work, studying ion thrusters, nuclear fuel, radiation shielding and much more.
The competition is organised by Richard Blott and Charles Matthews, who contribute the prize fund. It is run in co-operation with national charity Young Engineers, in a bid to spark interest in engineering.
Mr Blott is a chartered electrical engineer, who has chaired the UK Space Science and Exploration Sub-committee and he is co-chairman of the International Astronautical Federation.
The judges were eminent leaders in the field of space technologyand included; Professor Andrews Coates from University College, London, Dr David Green from Kings College, London and Camilla Blott a young aerospace engineer at QineticQ. The girls were awarded second place and presented with a cheque for £1000 which will be used to support them in their future scientific careers.
Mrs Christine Williams, Head of Physics said:
‘I am delighted and proud to say that the girls were runners up. The judges were particularly eminent leaders in the field of space technology so their praise for the girls’ presentation is significant. They noted the brave strategy of the short flight time which reflected the importance of human protection. This point was noted by the judges as one of the strengths of their presentation.’
Hannah Burford, 16, who took part in the competition said:
‘We had decided to split this project into smaller tasks: cost and schedule, human protection, exploration objective (reason to go to Mars) and the design of the spacecraft, which included looking at different propulsion systems, how the spacecraft would launch from the International Space Station (ISS) and spacecraft assembly. We were all extremely proud of how well we had done and that all the hard work, time and effort had paid off. I think it’s fair to say the team found the whole process extremely enjoyable, although challenging at times.’
The prizes were awarded by Alan Mack MP for Havant who added:
‘Portsmouth High School was a really strong team who developed research skills and teamwork.’