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  • Satellite Evolution

Thales Alenia Space and Astrophysicist Dr Emma Osborne inspire students to fly their own experiments

As British Science Week gets underway, research conducted by Thales in the UK, reveals that almost half (41%) of children in the UK believe they will be able to travel to space within their lifetime.

The research, surveying over 2,000 parents of children aged 5-16 years across the UK, also found that 40% of parents believe that the first person will set on foot on Mars within their child’s lifetime. This is corroborated by their children, with a quarter (26%) believing that NASA will be the first to put people on Mars, showcasing how space travel and exploration is expected to become an increasingly important part of our lives.


41% of children believe they’ll be our Space Travelers of the future

  • Two fifths (40%) of parents think the first person will set foot on Mars within their child’s lifetime.

  • 40% of parents say their child is interested in pursuing a career in STEM.

  • Thales Alenia Space (joint-venture between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%) is fostering children’s STEM ambitions with the MARSBalloon project, offering students the opportunity to test technologies that could one day be destined for Mars.

Inspired by Science

Alongside these attitudes, the research shows that space and science are impacting the way children and their parents are thinking about their future careers. Children now consider a career as a doctor or nurse to be the most inspiring (44%) and a quarter (25%) are most inspired by astronauts.


Additionally, 40% of parents said their child is currently interested in pursuing a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering maths).Of the top skills that parents believe will be most important for their child’s future careers, 40% of parents agreed Technology would be the most important skill and a third 32% said Science.


Almost a fifth of parents ranked Maths (19%) and Engineering (17%) as a top skill, demonstrating a strong belief in UK parents that STEM skills will be extremely important for their child’s future career.


Inspiring Future Martians

To provide students with the opportunity to channel their interest in STEM and belief in space travel into action, Thales Alenia Space in the UK is launching its ninth annual MARSBalloon project. The project is supported by Dr. Emma Osborne, Astrophysicist and award-Winning Science presenter.


In June 2022, the project will launch over 150 experiment capsules designed by school children up into the atmosphere via a high-altitude balloon – testing student ideas for technologies that could one day be destined for Mars.


The ambitions of the project feel particularly timely, with two thirds (66%) of parents agreeing that climate change and the environment is the number one issue facing children today.


Students can work together to create Mars experiments that fit inside a small capsule, putting in anything from electronics, to plants, to rubber bands.


During the launch, the balloon will ascend to 30km, more than twice the height of commercial airliners, in approximately one hour. The experiments will experience conditions very similar to the surface of Mars including temperatures as low as -50°C.


The balloon will then burst, and the experiment tray will return to Earth via a parachute. The experiments will be collected and returned to the schools for students to analyse the results.


The project is supported by Dr. Emma Osborne, Astrophysicist and award Winning Science Presenter, who said: "Trying to understand the universe and how it works has always fascinated me, and I love sharing this passion with others. I believe science should be accessible to everyone, as it is vital for the future of our planet. The MARSBalloon project is a fantastic initiative that enables young people to design and participate in science experiments. This is an excellent way to help foster a passion for science and space exploration amongst the next generation.”


Andrew Stanniland, CEO Thales Alenia Space said: “At Thales Alenia Space, like many other companies, we understand the importance of attracting the next generation of talent into careers to ensure the right skills are in place for the future. We want to engage students and foster a curiosity about the world we live in and beyond. The MARSBalloon project provides an engaging hands-on experience to encourage children on a path that could one day lead to a future career using a combination of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. and creativity skills. Showcasing just how exciting and diverse these careers can be.”

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