Page last updated at 17:13 GMT, Tuesday, 22 April 2008 18:13 UK

Six teams vie for satellite prize

Artes satellite. Image: Surrey Satellite Technology Limited.
SSTL is a major UK manufacturer of satellites

Six teams of students are vying for the chance to build an experiment for a satellite that will launch in 2010.

The semi-finalists are now required to work up a final proposal for submission in August; an outright winner will be selected by judges in the Autumn.

The winning experiment is required to be about the size of a lunch box, weighing no more than 1kg.

The contest is organised by the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL).

It is aimed at students between the ages of 14 and 18.

It was conceived by Dr Stuart Eves, of SSTL, as an initiative for boosting interest in space science among young people.

But it will be given a developmental budget of up to 100,000.

  • St George's College Addlestone - experiment will study the characteristics of Near-Earth space dust, which can damage orbiting spacecraft
  • Helston Community College - will test the ability of bacteria to survive the extreme conditions of outer space
  • Langton Star Centre - experiment will detect cosmic rays hitting the Earth's atmosphere
  • Schome Park Project - to observe "earthshine" and identify key life markers in the reflected light of the Earth
  • Shrewsbury School - will investigate the electrically charged particles that can disturb communication between space and Earth
  • UKHAS - to measure the number of meteors entering our atmosphere, by bouncing radio signals off their ionised trails

The winning proposal will be announced at the congress of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) in Glasgow in October 2008.

It is to have a volume of no more than 10x10x10cm and consume no more than 1W.

The British National Space Centre is a UK government body set up to co-ordinate civil space activities.

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