16 March 2018

The Satellite Applications Catapult (SAC) at Harwell is one of several business and innovation catapults linked to high tech research and industry around the UK. This week they opened their doors to local schools for a British Science Week event aimed at showing pupils the range of careers and entrepreneurial opportunities linked to the space industry. Together with pupils from Larkmead School, the second years were able to hear talks on the role of the European Space Agency and the design of space telescopes, as well as engaging in practical activities. Some of these surprised them, such as investigating the properties of chocolate bars to simulate sampling of rock types on different planets and practicing origami to understand how deployable structures are designed for satellite applications. One of the favourite activities was building a cube sat from scratch and using it to take and transmit a 'selfie' to a ground station computer. The afternoon finished with an incredible presentation in the SAC Operations Centre where satellite applications were demonstrated on huge, interactive screens. The 3-D, global tracking of illegal fishing boats was impressive technologically and had serious implications as human traffickers often provide the workers for the illegal activities. Many of the pupils were amazed to see how gaming technology was being adapted to provide interactive mapping for monitoring of activities such as copper mining in remote areas of Chile. It was an impressive day and many of the pupils came away with a new view of the full range of opportunities in our local, high tech and very lucrative space industry.

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