Pupil on mission to reach Mars

22nd July 2005 at 01:00
Wannabe astronaut Charlotte Jones-Todd hopes to become the first woman to boldly go where no man has ever gone before - Mars.

The GCSE pupil is preparing for lift-off to Houston, Texas, today after rocket scientists from NASA selected her for an all-important mission.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte, from Tregaron secondary, Ceredigion, is to join a team of brilliant young scientists from 15 countries at NASA's Johnson Space Centre. Over the next three weeks she will be at ground control helping to design a shuttle capable of blasting off to Mars at the speed of light.

Charlotte, a fluent Welsh speaker, said: "Who knows, I could be on that first trip to Mars. I've got to help design a shuttle which can carry humans to Mars without their food provisions rotting.

"I've had to do a lot of research, and heavy bedtime reading."

Talking about her once-in-a-lifetime trip to work alongside some of the world's top rocket scientists, she said: "It's mindblowing - what more can I ask for?"

The teenage scientist jets out to the States with physics teacher Chris Greenfield later today.

Mr Greenfield, an astro-physics graduate who joined Tregaron secondary in 1997, doubles up as a lecturer at Houston's International Space School during school holidays. His fascination with space has caught on with pupils at Tregaron and they have since set up an astro-physics club.

Mr Greenfield said: "I am a space fanatic and you could say rocket science has really taken off at the school since I came here."

On Charlotte's success, he said: "I think Charlotte's enthusiasm for physics shone through."

Charlotte had to write an essay as part of the selection process, and take part in interactive exercises to test scientific brain power. She will stay with a NASA astronaut during the mission.

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