Cork school aiming for the stars after winning big with micro-satellite

20 Apr 2015

An example of a CanSat at last year's European finals. Image via CanSat Competition

With the help of a can-sized satellite, secondary school students from Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál in Blarney, Co Cork will be bringing their space tech to Europe.

The Cork team had been taking part in the 2015 ESERO Ireland – CEIA National CanSat competition, which saw eight teams try to develop satellites packed full of monitoring equipment that, after being launched at a high altitude, would return to Earth by parachute.

Known as CanSats, the miniature satellites were required to capture air temperature and atmospheric pressure data from their environment using in-built sensors as they ascended, but were also engaging in GPS tracking, atmospheric monitoring, guided landing and power generation, which would then be judged by a panel of experts for accuracy,

Many of the teams had also hooked up their CanSats to live-tweet their findings for the entire world to see.

The CanSat programme is a joint collaboration between ESERO Ireland (European Space Education Resource Office) and Cork Electronics Industry Association (, and is co-funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme.

Ireland a ‘key player’ in space industry

Teams were selected from each of the regional finals hosted by Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway-Mayo Institutes of Technology earlier this year and with their mentors’ backing, along with industry partners, the teams selected their CanSat’s mission and tested and integrated the components over the last six months in preparation for the national finals.

The Blarney team will now go on to represent Ireland at the European CanSat final in Portugal in June of this year.

Stephanie O’Neill, manager of ESERO Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, said of the competition: “Many people, including students, are unaware that Ireland is a key player in the international space industry, with numerous Irish companies thriving in this sector.

“ESERO Ireland’s ambition, with the assistance of the European Space Agency, is to engage secondary school students in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects by participating in projects such as CanSat and thus realising the accessibility of STEM careers, including careers in the space sector, in Ireland and abroad.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic