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Space Explorers

 

On Saturday, a Space Explorers Day took place in the Senior School, aimed at girls entering Year 7 in September. It was a superb day, attended by Year 6 girls in the Prep School and a variety of other schools. Our Head Girl Anya chose to recount the day through the eyes of a trainee astronaut.

“My name is Anya. I am training to be an astronaut for the first ever mission to Mars. At the moment I am at ‘Astronaut School’ learning all of the skills that I will need to survive two years on the surface of Mars. Having learnt about Helen Sharman, I have always wanted to be one of the first astronauts to land on Mars. Over 25 years ago, Helen Sharman was the first British astronaut and the first woman to visit the space station in 1991.

When I wake up, my day starts like any other. I am at the training school, which is miles away from anywhere. They try to make it like Mars so we can imagine what it would be like to live on the red planet.

Firstly, we practice take-off and landing. We cannot practice this as space rockets are jolly expensive and I do not think that the government would be happy if we kept practicing and crashed lots of them! Instead, we make model parachutes out of polystyrene cups, bin bags, rope, shredded newspaper and eggcups. You place an egg in your model and it has to land safely on the ground when you drop the parachute. The parachute has to weigh less than 500g.

Next, we are told about the conditions on Mars. The temperature is bitingly cold, with lots of wind and massive storms that can cover the entire planet. I do not think I would want to be stuck in one of the storms in the dusty, red sand. The gritty sand would aggravate your eyes. We are given a robot in place of a Mars buggy that we have to code to move around the surface of the planet. We have to ensure we do not bump into any of the rocks or craters. It is quite tricky and only some of us made it work.
As lunchtime was approaching, we found out what we could eat and drink on Mars. We cannot take heavy food or food that can go off easily, like milk. Instead, you use milk powder and water. We make smoothies using freeze-dried raspberries, powdered milk, plain yogurt and water. It tasted bitter and not terribly pleasant.

Finally, we looked at communication. We are taught three different codes that would come in useful in case we encounter aliens. The three codes we are taught are Pig Pen, Shift Cipher and Morse Code. The first of these was the easiest; the other two were hard to master. Each code had three facts about my hero, Helen Sharman. I knew most of these because she is my role model.

I am exhausted after another training day. I have a scrumptious Earth dinner, nothing freeze dried, and go straight to bed, dreaming of one day landing on the red planet.” - Anya


Posted: 12/02/2018 at 10:23
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