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Space Blog

SSTL Propels Future Space Engineers

This year, SSTL is once again supporting the Engineering Education Scheme (EES), by sponsoring a team of budding space engineers from the nearby Royal Grammar School (RGS), Guildford. The EES is operated by the Education Development Trust’s (EDT), which is the largest provider of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) engagement and development schemes for British school-goers. SSTL believes that such programmes are invaluable, in helping to counteract the 40% decline in the up-take of careers in engineering and related disciplines in the UK in recent years, and in the nurture of future space engineers. The trust’s schemes provide opportunities for 11-21 year olds to develop research projects in partnership with science, engineering, or technology companies in their regions. Since the autumn, a team of four young researchers from the RGS have been working under mentor, Sahand Ghanoun, from SSTL’s Flight Software team. After several months of hard work, the students are entering the study’s final stage, and will present their research findings later this month. Their project centres on the development of a low-cost propulsion system, utilising the Crookes Radiometer effect, as a supplementary source of propulsion for crafts such as NASA’s bubble-like Tumbleweed Rover, on Martian exploration missions. Sahand has been encouraged by the student’s enthusiasm for space-focused science, and sees much potential for the application of their research: "˜These students embody the capacity for Britain to develop as a contender in the space-applications market. This project is proof of that point: non-solar, light manipulating kinetics have immense propulsion and transportation potential; and for these self-starting British students to help advance it is very exciting’. For months now, the student team have been hypothetically exploring the unchartered plains of Mars, as they considered the development of their design for a Crookes propulsion vane. In January, with SSTL’s help, they created a vacuum to replicate the Martian environment in a facility at the University of Surrey. This allowed them to trial several different designs for their vane, and as Sahand indicated, "˜propel’ the relevance of their research to another level. With an estimated 89% of the students who participate in an EES scheme going on to study a science, engineering or technology at University, SSTL believes that its involvement amounts to an investment in the future health of the space industry. We will post the results of the team’s study on Space Blog in the near future. To find out about the EES scheme go to:





03 April 20120 Comments1 Comment

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