Secondary school students from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Blarney, Co. Cork have been commended for a stellar performance at the 2015 European CanSat Competition in Santa Cruz Airfield, Portugal.
Students from 14 ESA member states across Europe participated in this unique European Space Agency (ESA) competition to build a CanSat – a simulation of a real satellite integrated within the volume of a soft drinks can – which was then launched by rocket to a height of 1km.
The test for teams was to include all the major subsystems found in a satellite, such as power, sensors and a communication system. At launch stage this week, the primary mission was to measure temperature and air pressure, and transmit the data to the ground station – a laptop.
As a secondary mission, Team Steve from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Blarney chose to develop a state-of-the-art soft landing system for the satellite, deployed via a two-way communication system; an accelerometer which sends data from the satellite back to the ground-station throughout its flight; and a satellite retrieval system based on light and sound signals. Teams then analysed the data and presented their findings to a panel of judges.
The team from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál have been gearing up for the competition since October, having recently fought off stiff competition from eight other Irish teams to scoop first place at the 2015 ESERO Ireland – CEIA CanSat national final at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly. Teams worked with mentors and industry partners to select missions for their CanSats and test and integrate the components.
Speaking at the final in Portugal, Nigel Savage from ESA’s Education Office said, “This year’s competition was particularly exciting. Students came up with lots of varied mission scenarios and imaginative solutions to address their goals. Regardless of mission success or failure, all teams learned a great deal, not only about science, technology, engineering and maths but also about the softer skills of working under pressure in a team environment and presenting their concepts to a panel of experts. Ireland has a great track record in the CanSat competition and the team representing Ireland this year, Team Steve, performed very well, delivering a particularly strong and comprehensive presentation. They should be very proud of their achievement.”
Cormac Conway, team member from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál said, “We’ve loved every minute of the CanSat experience. The CanSat challenge is no mean feat – from wiring up the satellite components, fitting them together within the volume of a can, analysing data, and presenting to a panel of judges – but it’s been an incredible journey as well as lots of fun and to be here in Portugal representing our country this week is a real honour!”
Irish students have achieved notable success in the European CanSat competition which is run by the European Space Agency (ESA). Last year, secondary school students from Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick succeeded in achieving third place at the 2014 European CanSat Competition in Andøya, Norway.
CanSat is a joint collaboration between ESERO Ireland (European Space Education Resource Office) and Cork Electronics Industry Association (CEIA.ie); and is co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme.