Secondary school students from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Blarney, Co. Cork were yesterday announced as winners of the 2015 ESERO Ireland – CEIA National CanSat competition at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly. The team will now go on to represent Ireland at the European CanSat final in Portugal in June of this year.

Eight teams from schools across Ireland took part in this unique space project to create a CanSat – a simulation of a real satellite which fits into the volume of a soft drinks can. Teams were selected from each of the regional finals hosted by Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway-Mayo Institutes of Technology earlier this year.

Yesterday’s teams launched their CanSats using a quadcopter and a rocket (built by the Irish Rocketry Society), which after release at high altitudes, returned to earth safely using a parachute.

For the primary mission, the CanSat captured air temperature and atmospheric pressure data from its environment using sensors as it ascended and descended. It then transmitted the data wirelessly to the ground-station – a laptop.

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Teams also undertook secondary missions such as GPS tracking, atmospheric monitoring, guided landing, power generation and even tweeting from the CanSat!

They then analysed the data and presented their findings to a panel of judges.

Speaking at the final, CanSat competition partner, Dr Eamon Connolly of CEIA said, “CanSat is a perfect opportunity for secondary school students to learn about space technology, communications and teamwork, and also to highlight the fantastic career possibilities available to Science & Engineering graduates.”

Assisted by mentors from the Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway-Mayo Institutes of Technology, together with industry partners, teams have selected their CanSat’s mission and tested and integrated the components over the last six months – readying their satellites for lift-off at the national final. All teams were supplied with CanSat kits sponsored by space sector companies Arralis and ENBIO.

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, where their CanSat was launched by rocket to an altitude of 1km. In 2013, a team of nine students from Colaiste an Phiarsaigh in Glanmire, Cork, went on to achieve second place at the European CanSat final in the Netherlands.

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.

More information about CanSat can be found here.

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