PUPILS at a school in Chard will examine how temperature and pressure affected some capsules they sent up into the Earth’s atmosphere as part of a Mars-analogue science experiment.

Chard Independent School joined the MARSBalloon project that carries capsules on its high-altitude balloons 30km where they will be 99 per cent up into the Earth’s atmosphere, with conditions of gas pressure, temperature, and radiation that are very similar to the surface of Mars.

Mrs Katrina Halford, head of Science, said: “I applied to take part and Chard School were one of the schools selected - only 150 experiments are sent up and we were allocated three spaces.

“The Cerdics science club chose their investigations. The brief was to design something that could fit in the capsule and could help scientists to understand how pressure and temperature can affect reactions.

“In the future, it is hoped that there will be research bases on Mars so this project could inform future space missions.

“Julia investigated reaction times for producing carbon dioxide by mixing vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

Chard & Ilminster News: A photo of the capsules used in the experimentA photo of the capsules used in the experiment (Image: Contributed)

“She will test the materials when they return to see if the reaction time has changed.

“This will inform her if the materials remain unchanged, if they were packaged well, and if there are any changes in the reaction time or if the reaction still happens in the same way.

“Wilf wanted to see if elasticity was affected. He carried out a test to see how much a balloon stretched with a kg weight. When the balloon returns, he will repeat the test.

“Tomas keeps quails. He wanted to see if a quail egg would remain intact during the mission.

“Each group knew they had to have a control capsule that remained in school so that a comparison could be made when the capsules were returned to us.

“The balloon was launched on Wednesday, June 27, and it went to an altitude of 30 km (Everest is 8.9 km high, and passenger planes go to about 18 km).

“The capsules would have reached speeds of about 180mph, temperatures as low as -50C.

“We are very excited to get the capsules back and find out what has happened to them.”