Rocket seeds to be sent into orbit as part of UK Space Agency and RHS project

Jun 17, 2015

Rocket seeds to be sent into orbit as part of UK Space Agency and RHS project

A Nescot Computing student has been involved in a unique venture to send plants seeds into space in a project involving half a million children across the UK.

The Rocket Science initiative, being run by the Royal Horticultural Society and the UK Space Agency, will see British astronaut Tim Peake take 2kg of rocket seeds to the International Space Station.

After several months of orbiting the planet at 17,000mph, the seeds will be returned to Earth and sent to 10,000 schools alongside a batch of the same cultivar that has not travelled into space.

Children will plant the seeds and compare both batches as they grow, with the results analysed to see what effect space travel has had.

Luke Cama, who is on track to achieve First Class honours in his Computing degree, created the website which the 10,000 schools who sign up to the experiment will use to log their findings.

He used a Raspberry Pi, a computer which is the size of a credit card, costs about £20 and uses just one watt of energy.

“Through my dissertation I wanted to prove that a big project or database could be run from an energy-efficient, affordable computer,” said Luke, 31.

“I’m glad I’ve been able to do that, and I’m really glad to have been involved in such a fun and important project, which could have huge implications for the future.”

Luke, who is from Epsom and a former student Higher Education governor, said astronaut Tim Peake will also take a Raspberry Pi to the International Space Station as part of his experiments.

“It’s a huge privilege to be the first British European Space Agency astronaut flying to the International Space Station,” Tim Peake said.

“I hope that Rocket Science will inspire the next generation to think scientifically, and to consider the fulfilling careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.”

Rocket Science was launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which ran from May 19 to 23, and schools can apply for the seeds from September.

Sage Lal, Head of Computing, said: "This was a fantastic and very novel approach to a project that ultimately looked at green technology. The use of Linux technology via the Raspberry Pi shows that it is about selecting the right technology to solve problems.

"The Raspberry Pi is a very versatile machine - it is only one's imagination that limits what we can do with these machines today. We will be investing in more of the Raspberry Pi next year, and teaching our students more about them to continue to grow our Linux Academy programme."

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