iSTEM plus Mission X - Antarctica to Mars

Posted on: 27th February 2017



Our Year 7 & 9 students and teachers embarked upon a great journey from the vast wilderness of the Antarctic to the barren surface of the Red Planet, Mars.

They were led on this adventure by the eminent Antarctic Scientist John Dudeney OBE, who, virtually dusting the snow from his boots, having returned from a month in Antarctica only last week, recounted his 50 years of experiences associated with his missions to the ice cap.

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Dr Dudeney gave a personal perspective, based on 50 years of experience, on the parallels between the isolation and consequent challenges of living in Antarctica with those that will be faced by astronauts on long duration space missions, and reviewed some recent studies on the effects of isolation on human performance.

Helping along the way were a team of twelve guests that included internationally recognised academics, researchers, aerospace engineers, a Cambridge Astronomer, an Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and leading neuroscientist.

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Students were able to explore every aspect of preparing a mission to Mars and engaged in the following activities:

  • Using CAD to design, test and race their rockets
  • Practical hands on design and construction of a Mars Lander craft
  • Training Like Astronauts: Mission X
  • Examining the mental and physical demands on the human mind and body of prolonged Space travel.

They were also, given the opportunity to listen to presentations about life in the Antarctic, radiation from the Sun, travelling to Mars,  training cosmonauts  and engineering the structures of spacecraft and living quarters on Mars.

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Performance data from the training activities were gathered for later (anonymised) data analysis in Maths and students were invited to complete applications to become Captain of a mission aboard The Starship Mars Voyager which tested both their knowledge about Mars and their team leadership skills

A busy but exciting, enjoyable and eventful day: next year, Alpha Centauri?

Huge thanks to Mr Vine for organising the day and also to the amazing guests whose presence made it possible:

Dr John Dudeney OBE

Deputy Director, British Antarctic Survey

Dr Vincent Giampietro

Dept., Department of Neuroimaging. King’s College, London

Dr  Helen Mason OBE

Reader in Solar Physics, University of Cambridge

Dr Olesya Myakonkaya


Alistair D Scott

Engineer Air Bus; ex. President British Interplanetary Scientist

Martin Shipp

Technical Development Director : BRE

Jerry Stone

Spaceflight UK

Professor Adrian Oldknow

Emeritus Professor Mathematics, University Chichester

Heather MacRae

Venture Thinking

Amanda Hayward

Creative Hex

Tom Lyons

National UK STEM Centre, York

Richard Healey

Director Learn Extreme Limited UK

Rebecca Hayward

UK winner of the Sir Arthur C Clarke Award: UK winner and UK representative  of the Odysseus Tim Peake Award  2015

Eleanor Ivey

UK winner and UK representative  of the Odysseus Tim Peake Award 2015