Life on Mars?

27th June 2016

Stevenage, or ‘Space City’, as it’s often referred to in the media, is increasingly being compared to NASA’s Cape Canaveral facility in Florida. Already a key part of the UK Space Agency’s future strategy, Stevenage’s space industry is not only producing a quarter of the world’s satellites but is also playing a key part in the European Space Programme’s Mars project.

The King’s House Science Society was therefore keen to find out more about the Rosetta spacecraft and the Exo-Mars Rover that will be exploring the Red Planet for signs of life in 2019. Having been given prior security clearance, a group of society members set out to visit the Astrium space facility in Stevenage on 4thMay.

On arrival pupils were given a guided tour by the site director and saw the Exo-Mars vehicle, which will be able to steer and drive itself on the Martian surface, having an inbuilt ‘brain’ to avoid rocks and pot-holes. They also saw the largest simulated Martian landscape outside of the United States which is used to trial and develop the Exo-Mars Rover.

After lunch in the board room, pupils were able to interview the project directors and ask them about their thoughts on the possibility of life on Mars and other planets and when it might be possible for humans to go to Mars.