Learning about the appliance of science

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The project scientist on the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission has taken students from Ashville College on a cosmic journey to the final frontier.

Dr Matt Taylor gave a personal account of the decade-long project to study the comet Churymov-Gerasimenko - and to land a probe on it – during a visit to the college.

Pupils studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects from a number of schools joined their Ashville counterparts for the lecture “Rosetta, Living with a Comet”.

The Rosetta Mission was the third element of the ESA’s Horizon 2000 programme. Launched in 2004, the spacecraft took ten years to reach its target, eventually spending two years in its proximity.

In November 2014, its lander module, Philae, performed the first successful landing on a comet, though its battery ran out a few days later.

Conor Davies, Ashville College’s Head of Physics and Lead Educator at the Leicester-based National Space Academy, said: “The Rosetta Project was an incredibly exciting project and Matt was at the forefront of it.

“He has worked at ESA for over a decade on space science mission and was project scientist for Rosetta during the comet phase of this ground breaking mission.

“It was a fascinating two hour talk, and at the end Matt was happy to answer questions posed by pupils and teachers and pose for photographs.

“It is the likes of Matt, and his colleagues, who make science, maths and engineering exciting. They inspire students to think about what they can achieve, and the careers they can have by studying these subjects at A-Level and beyond.”

Founded in 1877, Ashville College is an independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 4-18 and consists of three schools, Pre-Prep, Junior and Senior.