Thales Alenia Space launches MARSBalloon

Published:  26 February, 2024

Thales Alenia Space, a joint-venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), is set to harness students’ curiosity for space, science and life on Mars with the launch of MARSBalloon 2024.

Led by Thales Alenia Space graduates and apprentices in the UK, MARSBalloon is a hands-on science project for primary and secondary students and shows how exciting and varied career opportunities in space, engineering and science can be - without putting on a space suit.

Students work together to create experiments to test the response of electronics, materials, plants and even food to the harsh conditions in space. Experiments fit inside a small capsule and fly on the high altitude balloon, rising to an altitude of 30km, more than twice the height of commercial airliners where conditions are very similar to the surface of Mars - including temperatures of -50°C and pressures 1/100th that of sea level

This year’s MARSBalloon will also have a competitive element, with prizes awarded for primary and secondary categories for Best Innovation, Best Decoration, Engineers Choice and VIP Judge’s Choice award.

The deadline for registration is 8th March 2024 with the launch of the balloon in May.

Teachers can find out more about the MARSBalloon and download the information pack here:

Key dates for this year’s MARSBalloon:

• 8th March: Last day for Registration. The process take five minutes and can be done here.

• 30th April: Deadline for experiment delivery to Thales Alenia Space

• May / June: MARSBalloon launch (depending on weather conditions)

Ballymacash Primary school has already signed up. Primary Teacher, Susan Brown, said: “We are so excited to be involved in such an amazing activity. The students can’t wait to start dreaming up their own experiments. We’re looking forward to having our very own MARSBalloon workshop in March - so watch this space to see what the children come up with!”

Drashti Shah, Thales Alenia Space Engineer and MARSBalloon Project Manager, said: “We are delighted to have launched MARSBalloon 2024. We had a record number of participants last year, flying over 200 experiments into the stratosphere, and this year we have changed the dates to allow more schools to get involved. It is a fantastic fun, free of charge that really gives young student experience of deigning their own experiments and first-hand experience learning more about space, widening their future career horizons”

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