Young Belgians to Become First High Schoolers to Send Payload into Orbit

Belgian Students’ Experiment to Assess Astronaut Radiation Risks

Next Tuesday, the Ariane 6 rocket will make its much-anticipated maiden flight, carrying an innovative experiment developed by students from Sint-Pieters College in Brussels and the Institut Vallée Bailly in Braine-l’Alleud.

This historic event, announced by the European Space Agency (ESA), marks the first time European secondary school students will launch a payload into orbit aboard a rocket.

The student’s project, named Peregrinus after the medieval French scholar Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt, who studied magnetism, aims to measure the correlation between the Earth’s magnetic field and the intensity of hard X-rays and soft gamma rays.

This data is crucial for understanding radiation risks faced by astronauts, especially those embarking on missions to the Moon or Mars.

Orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 580 kilometers, the Peregrinus experiment will provide real-time data on the impact of solar activity and radiation levels within the Earth’s magnetic field.

“Every 10 seconds, we will receive a message containing 10 seconds of data on the radiation hitting our detector (installed on the rocket) and on the Earth’s magnetic field,” explained Erik De Schrijver, a science teacher at Sint-Pieters College in Jette and the head of the Peregrinus project.

The experiment benefits from raw positioning data provided by the satellite network and Ariane 6, enabling continuous magnetic data transmission until the rocket’s upper stage re-enters the atmosphere.

“Thanks to all this information, we should be able to obtain an interesting picture of the high-energy radiation that strikes the Earth’s magnetic field,” noted De Schrijver.

For the ESA, this mission underscores the potential of dedication and hard work in reaching orbit, aiming to inspire space ambitions among children and young people across Europe.

This pioneering effort by Belgian students highlights the importance of practical space education projects, potentially laying the groundwork for more ambitious endeavors in the future.

“This opportunity to take part in the maiden flight of Ariane 6 is unique for our students,” said De Schrijver, expressing hope that this milestone will foster more practical and ambitious space education projects for European students at all levels.

The Peregrinus team views their involvement as a significant achievement. “Ariane 6 – a small step for mankind, a giant leap for us,” said Lore De Becker, an 18-year-old student from Sint-Pieterscollege.

“Knowing that, as high school students, we were able to play a tiny role in a campaign as complex as the launch of the new Ariane 6? It’s a unique experience, and we’re grateful to have been part of it.”

As Ariane 6 prepares for its debut flight, the excitement among the young Belgian scientists is palpable.

Their groundbreaking experiment not only contributes to our understanding of space radiation but also exemplifies the incredible potential of student-led initiatives in advancing scientific research and exploration.


This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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