‘Can-do’ Kids meet at Royal Observatory

Seven teams of high school students from across Scotland will compete to launch a space experiment that fits into a soft drinks can (a ‘CanSat’) at the STFC Royal Observatory Edinburgh this week. The competition is part of a Europe-wide programme organised by the European Space Agency. The cans have been provided by Irn Bru, and the Scottish CanSats are now ready to launch.

This first-ever Scottish national CanSat competition has been organised by Dr Paul Lyden of AlbaNorth Ltd and is sponsored by Fistral Training and Consultancy Ltd. Over the past few months, the schools have been building their own small CanSat, with the help of a ready-to-make satellite kit. The teams test flew their CanSats on Wednesday 21st March, using a microlight aircraft at Strathaven Airfield. On 28th March, they will participate in the competition final at STFC Royal Observatory Edinburgh where they will present their project to a panel of judges from a variety of Scottish industries, including a professor of aircraft engineering, a specialist in space systems engineering and director of an advanced space concepts laboratory. Whilst the judges are choosing their winner, the teams will enjoy a tour of the laboratory facilities at the STFC UK Astronomy Technology Centre and Sandi Wilson, Innovation Manager at the UK ATC will talk about her work on satellites.

The Scottish winners will then present their design at the European finals in April 2012 at Andøya Rocket Range in Norway. There, the design will be launched in a rocket - up to an altitude of 1 km - to conduct their experiments and (hopefully!) return safely with results.

The competition organisers are delighted to announce that Hugo Marée, Head of the Policy and Coordination Office in the European Space Agency’s Education Department will be joining us for the final at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

This project is one of many Europe-wide education initiatives organised by the European Space Agency, and the partnership with the Royal Observatory Edinburgh has arisen thanks to the ESERO-UK network.

For full details about the Scottish competition contact:

Dr Paul Lyden
AlbaNorth Ltd
Tel: 07733 103737


Royal Observatory Edinburgh contact:

Tania Johnston
UK Astronomy Technology Centre
Tel: 0131 668 8263

About STFC

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security.

The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.

STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including:

It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Follow us on Twitter @STFC_Matters www.stfc.ac.uk


ESERO-UK, also known as the UK Space Education Office, aims to promote the use of space to enhance and support the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in schools and colleges throughout the UK. Funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Department for Education ESERO-UK will:

ESERO-UK in Scotland has a steering group with representatives from all the sectors involved in space education in Scotland. This regional branch is led by Dan Hillier, Visitor Centre Manager at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.