SCK•CEN lends a hand with the new mission for young people at the Euro Space Centre
On 4 April, the Euro Space Centre (ESC) invited the press and the Department of Federal Scientific Policy to the inauguration of its brand-new "Earth Camp" for secondary school children with a passion for science. The mission focuses on biodiversity and technology innovation, and it has sought SCK•CEN's expertise in this area.
Simulation of a space mission, discovering the world of astronomy, building a rocket: every year, the ESC plays host in Redu to almost 30,000 young people from the four corners of the world who want to set off on a trip to the stars. This year, Belgium's discovery centre, the only one of its kind in Europe, decided to focus the telescope on our ‘blue planet’ and explore its biodiversity.
The Earth Camp is intended to offer young people between the ages of 10 and 18 the chance to have fun on their summer holidays while learning about satellites, GPS, the world's ecosystems and photosynthesis. And, to lend a helping hand to extra-terrestrials in difficulty on one of Saturn's moons, budding scientists will also have to busy themselves with creating artificial ecosystems to help them survive long space missions. This module is based on the MELiSSA project, and was devised by the Microbiology team at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre and the European Space Agency (ESA).
To come up with a solution for providing food and drink during long manned space missions to Mars, for example, the MELiSSA project developed a unique recycling system to produce oxygen and food, and purify water too. The project, which has already been presented at the ESC's permanent space food exhibition, will be explained to young people in a ‘discovery experience’ that focuses on spirulin, which has been developed by SCK•CEN microbiologists.
"It's always a pleasure to work with such a dynamic and passionate research team", enthused Jean-Marcel Thomas, Director of the Euro Space Centre. "This isn't our first or last project with SCK•CEN. So we're keen to pass on our knowledge to children and instil an interest in science."
For more info on Euro Space Centre activities visit: www.eurospacecenter.be