Our team raises aspirations at Farnborough

British astronaut and Honorary graduate Tim Peake joined our very own Suzie Imber at Farnborough International Airshow to launch ‘The Holiday Makers’ summer holiday campaign.

The Holiday Makers will encourage children to explore the world of engineering through fun activities, events and weekly challenges. The campaign is part of the government’s Year of Engineering, which is working with partners across the UK to bring young people face to face with engineering experiences and role models – transforming perceptions of the profession and tackling a major shortage of engineers in the UK.

Launching the campaign, Tim Peake joined Dr  Imber, Associate Professor of Space Physics at the University of Leicester Department of Physics & Astronomy and winner of BBC 2 show ‘Astronauts: do you have what it takes?’, to show schoolchildren the vital role engineers play in the UK’s growing space industry.

Students were given the chance to recreate an experiment that helps us understand more about the surface of planets, and learnt about the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer which Dr Imber is working on alongside engineers as part of Europe’s first mission to the planet Mercury later this year. Continuing the celebration of feats of engineering, Tim Peake also joined the UK Space Agency as it launched a competition to name a rover which is being sent to Mars to search for signs of life.

Suzie said: “It’s always a delight to open young people’s eyes to how exciting engineering and science can be and the government’s Year of Engineering campaign is a fantastic way that scientists like Tim and me can share some of the amazing research that is happening in labs across the country, and the vital role engineers play in this. It’s been great to show them the work that the University of Leicester has done for the BepiColombo mission to Mercury, just one of the many ways that Leicester is establishing itself as the UK’s space city.”

Tim Peake also launched a competition to name the ExoMars Rover.

Due to launch in August 2020 the UK-built rover is part of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission which will look at how Mars has evolved and whether there may be conditions for life.

The ExoMars rover will be the first of its kind to travel across the Martian surface and drill down to determine if evidence of life is buried underground, protected from the destructive radiation that impinges the surface today. It will collect samples and analyse them with next-generation instruments, many designed by British engineers.

The UK is the second largest European contributor to the ExoMars mission, behind Italy, having invested €287 million in the mission and £14 million on the instruments.

Airbus Defence and Space is leading the build of the rover while the UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory is leading on a key instrument known as the PanCam, a high resolution 3D camera which will be used to look at the terrain and rocks to try to detect signs of life.

The University of Leicester and Teledyne e2v are involved in work on the Raman Spectrometer with STFC RAL Space processing the data it delivers. ExoMars will be the first mission to combine the capability to move across the surface and to study Mars at depth.

The rover, which is due to land on Mars in March 2021, uses solar panels to generate the required electrical power, and is designed to survive the cold Martian nights with the help of batteries and heater units.