Leo pulls on a shiny, silver swimsuit and locations the helmet gingerly over his head earlier than marching with the opposite budding astronauts in direction of their spaceship.
“Going to Mars is admittedly my dream,” the eight-year-old mentioned, leaping excitedly from foot to foot.
Whereas the world has been riveted by the escapades of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, a bunch of Swiss main faculty children has been eagerly getting ready their very own mission to the crimson planet.
A few of Switzerland’s prime house consultants, together with the nation’s solely astronaut, Claude Nicollier, evaluated the detailed mission plan the kids had developed over 9 months.
And on March 8, they gave it the all-clear for lift-off.
The kids “exploded with pleasure” after they heard, their trainer on the Vivalys private school close to Lausanne, Sebastien Roussel, instructed AFP.
“It was like watching the NASA engineers’ ecstatic response when Perseverance touched down.”
This week, they lastly blasted off.
Their rocket is definitely a bus, with photos of astronauts astride a spaceship heading in direction of a shiny crimson sphere protecting the home windows, flanked by the message: “Mission Vivalys. Route Mars”.
Their vacation spot? A Mars house station conveniently located a bus-ride away in a secluded wooded space on the outskirts of Lausanne in western Switzerland.
Right here, the 16 eight- and nine-year-olds will spend three days finishing up experiments much like some performed by precise astronauts, together with making an attempt to develop crops to maintain them on the lengthy journey.
And whereas the idyllic, snow-sprinkled environment are far much less hostile than the windswept, dusty floor of Mars, the kids put on fits and helmets each time they step outdoors.
Inside the bottom, together with his helmet—really a face-covering scuba-diving masks—beneath his arm, Leo says this “analogue mission to Mars” made him all of the extra wanting to see the actual factor.
“However I do not wish to land the place Perseverance landed. It is radioactive there and really chilly,” he mentioned.
In a bid to simulate a real house mission, all the kids’s meals encompass freeze-dried house meals.
Preliminary plans for them to sleep on web site have been in the meantime scrapped because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our greatest concern just isn’t bringing the virus to Mars,” Olivier Delamadeleine, head of the Educalis group that runs the varsity, instructed AFP.
The mission matches with the varsity’s basic method geared toward deepening the scholars’ studying by means of “actual life” experiences, he mentioned.
Through the months of preparation, the kids participated in workshops on astronomy and rocket engineering hosted by college students on the neighbouring EPFL—among the many most prestigious technical universities in Europe.
A motivation ‘win’
The mission required them to make use of arithmetic to calculate the space to Mars, and so they have additionally sharpened their language abilities, studying learn how to spell the names of the planets.
Roussel mentioned the mission was “a win” for a trainer looking for to inspire his college students.
The primary experiment the staff embarks upon after arriving on the house station is launching home-made paper rockets into space.
The kids get to work rolling sheets of paper into tubes, earlier than including pointed paper ideas and fins.
Ewan, the challenge’s appointed chief, recommends utilizing quite a lot of tape.
“We’re going to pump air into them, so it is very important shut them tightly,” the teen explains.
He pulls on his masks and heads out to assist safe the launch web site with security cones and tape.
When the opposite kids arrive, he helps Roussel place one rocket on a big steel contraption hooked up to a pump.
Once they flip a crimson lever on the valve, the paper rocket flies as excessive because the treetops amid wild applause.
After all of the rockets have been launched, the kids have a debrief Zoom session with Jonas Morfin, often known as “Jupiter Jonas”, at EPFL’s Area Innovation unit.
Lined up in entrance of the digital camera, they element the issues some rockets bumped into, and he supplies tips about learn how to enhance the buildings for the subsequent launch.
“Perhaps reinforce the subsequent one with extra tape?” Morfin tells a lady whose rocket exploded in mid-air.
The preparation for the mission, and particularly the Zoom dialog earlier this month with Nicollier, has left some kids dreaming about turning into astronauts themselves.
“That is what I take note of,” Leo mentioned. “Now I wish to be a scientist or an astronaut.”
Perseverance’s photos from Mars have additionally left some kids wanting to see people stroll on the red planet.
“I feel it is going to be attainable for us too, quickly.”
© 2021 AFP
Swiss youngsters swimsuit up for ‘Mission to Mars’ (2021, March 21)
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