Anke Hartmanns, Germany, winner of ESA's Earth Flag competition

..and the winner is Anke Hartmanns!

17 June 2001

Anke Hartmanns (12) from Oldenburg in Germany won the European Space Agency’s “Earth flag” competition today, Sunday 17 June. Her flag will be painted on the side of the Ariane 5 rocket that will place Europe’s new Euro 2 billion earth-observing satellite, Envisat, in orbit in October this year.

Winner Envisat flag competiton
Earth flag winner Anke Hartmanns

Announcing the achievement during the International Paris Airshow yesterday (June 17th), Claudio Mastracci, director of applications for the Agency, said: “The task of environmental protection is gigantic, and my priority is to show how space technology can help.”

Envisat will carry 10 instruments to monitor sea, ice and the atmosphere, and these will provide information on climate change, desertification and forest fires. “In future ,” says Mastracci, “it will not just be astronauts that we need for space exploration, but scientists and engineers who can develop the technology and interpret the observations we make.”

Flag choice

Envisat flag competition finalists
Earth flag competition finalists

Anke’s flag was chosen from among 16 finalists (there were 13 000 entries in total), one from each of the European Space Agency’s 15 Member States and Canada. “We looked at all of the flags on the Internet, and there were so many good ideas,” said Anke’s mother who teaches chemistry and biology, “that we never imagined we would win.”

Anke discussed her ideas with friends and her teacher, and decided to portray the Earth as the central element of a Sunflower, with each petal representing an aspect of life on Earth. Some show the natural and man made threats to Earth - a factory and a volcano - while others depict the planet’s greenness.

Water is the motif in three petals, reflecting Anke’s own interest in the ecology of the Seas, something she hopes to study in future – as well as learning to dive!

One encouraging theme that occurred in a number of the flags, including those that were not among the final selection, was friendship among peoples. “I was surprised, but it seemed that the children naturally associated the idea of protecting the environment with brotherhood,” said De Agostini, “and that is good because it is true we need general agreement if we are to protect the Earth’s resources.”

The Agency held the competition both to commemorate Envisat’s launch and to raise awareness of the significance of space technology in everyday life. “Children are the scientists, engineers and politicians of tomorrow,” said Agostino De Agostini, one of the judges, and a member of the directorate of applications, “it is important that they understand what space-based science and technology can offer.”

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