A 13-year-old’s model satellite has the potential to create oxygen while in the orbit of a lifeless planet like Mars.
Roni Oron, from Ramat Hasharon, Israel, is the recent winner of the “Satellite is Born” competition hosted by the Israel Space Agency. The competition is open for all young people ages 12-15 that have a passion for designing model satellites that can positively impact science and humanity.
Oron’s winning idea is called Bio Sat which aims “to solve a problem for astronauts trying to prove that life on Mars is possible” through the use of photosynthesis, according to the Isreali youth magazine “Ma’ariv L’Noar”.
Oron explained that the Bio Sat is “built like a large bubble on one side of which there is a mirror and the other is transparent, enabling the penetration of sunlight. In the middle there is a capsule, which will be made of a membrane through which air can pass but water cannot. Inside of it there will be water and algae, and outside there will be carbon dioxide. Through a process of photosynthesis, the satellite will produce oxygen. There will be additional mirrors inside the satellite that will enable sunlight to reach the capsule, but not by direct radiation, which would harm the algae.”
(Oron poses for a picture along with astronaut Sunita Williams.)
Oron attributed her passion for science to her supportive parents:
“My father, an orthopedist, was very happy when I began my research. From my mother I learned the wisdom of looking at life creatively.”
As the winner of the competition, Oron will attend the NASA summer camp in Florida later this year. She explained:
“This will be sort of a beginning for the development of this idea, a kind of camp in which you meet with many astronauts and [other] teens. We will arrive there as guests of honor, stay there until very late hours to develop the satellite, and then we’ll see where it goes.”