Expedition Mars in an international competition organised by the voluntary association “Dětská tisková agentura”. Young Czechs and Slovaks ages 13 to 18 can participate, especially those interested in natural science and technology. The competition’s first year took place in 2004 and was initially named Expedice Vesmír, later on Expedice Space One and Space Two and since the year 2007 its name has stayed Expedition Mars.
The competition is prepared by former finalists themselves. After finishing their year as participants they stay and go through special training and classes mandatory for all new organisers. Then, combining their experience from the competition and newly gained knowledge, they help improve Expedition Mars.
The goal of Expedition is to find students that are truly curious, want to know how a space mission is created and are interested in natural sciences. At the same time they need to have the motivation to improve and evolve. Expedition is a stepping stone, which brings together talented young people from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and provides them with many new opportunities.
We put a lot of effort and time into selecting the winners of Expedition. We not only want to pick people who are knowledgeable, but we also make sure to select a crew that will work and live together efficiently during the simulated mission. In each round we test knowledge, motivation to grow, endurance and ability to work in a team.
Semi-final is for the best 25 participants of the internet round. They experience a weekend full of new experience and hard work. During many activities their endurance, enthusiasm and ability to work in a team under pressure are tested. Teams consists of people in one expertise which are working on a project, that they present at the end of semi-finals. These projects are mostly focused on the launch of our high altitude balloon, which is to be launched after the final round. Most participants are never going to forget the experience they gained during this round. Expedition might be a competition but it is also a great adventure which includes a lot of exploring and the opportunity to surpass your own limits. From semi-final round only the 10 best continue into the final round.
Eurotrip is a multiple day trip into the institutions of European Space Agency. It is a great opportunity for people who want to see a space operations centre from inside and talk to those working there. We then visit the space research and technology centre, where participants see how Europeans contribute in this science field. The journey is also connected with an excursion into the European parliament and commission in Brussels.
Final round, which comes right after Eurotrip, takes place in Slovakia. Ten best competitors are working on preparations for the high altitude balloon flight. For the last time they will compare their abilities with rest of the participants, while experiencing fun and friendship along the way. During finals they pass a small simulated mission, interviews and many other tests. At the end the crew of the 100 hour long simulated mission is picked.
High altitude balloon – Once everything is ready we are going to launch the high altitude balloon collecting data from experiments, which were prepared during the semifinals and finals. The data is going to be processed by the crew during the simulated mission itself.
Simulated mission lasts over 100 hours and is the longest simulated flight into space in Europe. During this flight the main crew fulfills tasks, experiments and processes data, while having no contact with the rest of the world but Mission Control Centre. On top of that they constantly monitor onboard systems and solve unexpected problems. During the mission they also undergo a simulated extravehicular activity on Mars.
And after that? These talented young people spend almost a year with Expedition and almost certainly find friends for life. So it is obvious it can not end with the simulated mission. All finalists can become organizers, prepare next years with us, become supervisors and evolve further.