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Science & Exploration

N° 37–1999: XMM classroom competitions : reaching for the stars!

13 September 1999

To celebrate the December launch of XMM, its new X-ray space observatory, the European Space Agency is challenging young Europeans to reach for the stars!

Partnered by a unique education network 'European Schoolnet'(*), ESA is today launching these three competitions for schools (age range: 8 to final year) in its Member States: draw a telescope, describe the benefits of space-based astronomy or produce an astronomy observation proposal.

Details can be found on the special competition website :

"Draw me a telescope!"

This competition for 8 to 12 year-olds asks the class to draw a telescope (inside a 20 - 50 cm diameter circle). The 14 winning entries, one per Member State, will be included in a specially-designed official XMM mission logo to go on the Ariane-5 launcher fairing for official unveiling on launch day. A representative of each winning class will be invited to Kourou for the launch.

Deadline for entries : 8 October 1999. For full information on how to enter see :

"What's new, Mr Galileo?"

The essay competition for 13 to 15 year-olds challenges an English class, writing in the international language of space, to submit a single page (500 words maximum) description of space-based astronomy and its benefits for humanity. The 14 winners, one per Member States, will be invited to Kourou to visit the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport, and witness final XMM launch preparations.

Deadline for entries : 15 October 1999. For full information on how to enter see :


In the final-year class competition, ESA is providing a unique opportunity to use the XMM telescope. Here, the physics class, assisted by the scientific community, has to submit an observation project. The 14 winning proposals will be put into practice in 2000 at a summer camp.

Further details will be announced once XMM is in orbit.

Note to editors:

The X-ray Multi-Mirror mission is the second Cornerstone of ESA's Horizon 2000 Plus science programme. The telescope will revolutionise cosmic X-ray astronomy by harvesting far more X-rays per hour than any previous mission. Its large effective collecting area (120 m2 of mirror, 4500 cm2 of X-ray collecting area) and highly eccentric orbit will allow long-duration observation of unprecedented sensitivity. This enormous capability will enable astronomers to analyse many strong sources of cosmic X-rays very quickly and also discover and characterise many faint sources.


Address for competition entries:

Science Programme Communication Service (MC)
P.O. Box 299
NL 2200 AG Noordwijk
The Netherlands

For further information, contact:

ESA Science Programme Communication Service
Tel: +31-71-565 4604

ESA Public Relations Division
Tel: +33(0)

or visit:

ESA Space Science website:
ESA home page:
European Schoolnet website:

(*) The European Schoolnet (EUN) provides a framework for collaboration between 19 European Ministries of Education by bringing together national and other computer networks.

The objectives of the EUN is to promote the use of information and communications technologies among schools in Europe, in particular by :


  • Encouraging and supporting collaboration and cooperation among schools
  • Offering a comprehensive range of educational content and teaching services
  • orting the professional development and training of teachers
  • Exchanging the good practice and experiences of teachers
  • Providing common technical and educational standards as the platform for a powerful network supporting the needs of all educational users in Europe.