SCK•CEN lends a hand with the new mission for young people at the Euro Space Centre

Euro Space CentreOn 4 April, the Euro Space Centre had invited the press and the Department of Federal Scientific Policy to the inauguration of its brand-new "Earth Camp" for secondary school children with a passion for science. The mission focuses on biodiversity and technology innovation, and it has sought SCK•CEN's expertise in this area.

Simulation of a space mission, discovering the world of astronomy, building a rocket: every year, the Euro Space Centre (ESC) in Redu plays host to almost 30,000 young people from the four corners of the world for a trip to the stars. This year, Belgium's discovery centre, the only one of its kind in Europe, has decided to focus the telescope on our blue planet and explore its biodiversity.

The "Earth Camp" is intended as a chance for young people between the ages of 10 and 18 to have fun on their summer holidays as they learn about satellites, GPS, the world's ecosystems and photosynthesis. And, to lend a helping hand to extraterrestrials in difficulty on one of Saturn's moons, budding scientists will also have to concern themselves with creating artificial ecosystems to help them survive long space missions. This module is based on the MELiSSA project, and was devised by the Microbiology team at the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre and the European Space Agency (ESA).

To come up with a solution for sustenance during long manned space missions to Mars, for example, the MELiSSA project developed a unique recycling system to produce oxygen and food, and purify water too. Already presented at the ESC's permanent space food exhibition, the project will be explained to young people in a discovery experience focusing on spirulin developed by SCK•CEN microbiologists.

"It's always a pleasure to work with such a dynamic and passionate research team", enthuses Jean-Marcel Thomas, Director of the Euro Space Centre. "This isn't our first or last project with the SCK•CEN. So we're keen to pass on our knowledge to children and instil an interest in science."

Discover more about our space reseach in the section 'In space'.

For more info on Euro Space Centre activities: www.eurospacecenter.be