Odysseus Explorers Finalists of 2016 working for the Spaceship program of the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne

Dimitris Athanasopoulos and Konstantinos Karampelas, are currently following a six months internship period at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) of ESA, in Cologne Germany, with the support of the Odysseus II project. Dimitris and Konstantinos participated in the 2016 Odysseus Contest, winning third place honors in the Explorers category, with a project investigating how Lunar Pits can be used as a base for designing and constructing a self-sufficient colony in Moon.

They both talked to the Odysseus team about their work at ESA and about their future plans.

Dimitris in EAC

  • What is it like to work at the European Astronaut Centre of ESA?
Working in ESA has been my aspiration for many years. So, I am very excited and glad, since a dream comes true. The work in EAC is fascinating and very interesting in a unique, multicultural and nice working environment. People, with different backgrounds and from different scientific or engineering fields, are harmonically working together.  In this way, the implementation of projects advances to a higher level and any problems could be addressed more easily.  I would say that the work in ESA is more of academic nature and there is no stress.  This encourages me to be more active and creative.
My internship in ESA-EAC is an opportunity to live in a foreign country and to participate in an exciting research team!  Working in ESA has been such an amazing experience. I met scientists from different cultures and I had the opportunity to apply my knowledge on Space Science, while working in Computational Physics.  Although the thought of living six months abroad seemed scary some months ago, I now find myself overwhelmed by the possibilities and the experiences that I am having in Cologne!
The project on which I am currently working focuses on a mission to the Moon, which actually was the inspiration for our involvement in the Odysseus II Contest in the first place.   Even just working on this project in the facilities of EAC has been awesome for me.   Besides that, I have already made new friends from different backgrounds, I started learning German and I got the chance to take part in the famous Cologne carnival celebrations!

Konstantinos Karampelas

  • On which project you are involved at EAC – ESA and what are your responsibilities as interns?
I have joined the Spaceship EAC, which is a team of highly motivated and multidisciplinary young professionals and students from all over Europe. The prime goal of Spaceship EAC is human space exploration beyond low Earth orbit (LEO), with the exploration of our Moon as its first increment.   My project is focused on radiation shielding for the future ESA ‘s lunar base. I do simulations with different known types of regolith (lunar soil) to see if they provide different shielding. These types of regolith differ in their chemical composition, which is depended on their location. My goal is to find candidate locations on the Moon for building a safe lunar habitat, taking into account also other parameters, like the meteorite flux .  My responsibility, as an intern, is to be creative.
As a trainee, I am part of the Spaceship EAC program, a traineeship program with the main objective to conduct research for a future lunar mission.  The research work involves 3D-printing, material science, robotics and radiation shielding projects; the latter being the project I personally contribute in.  Particularly, I am simulating the lunar radiation environment studying lunar regolith’s characteristics as a shielding material.
  • What career path you would like to follow after completing the internship at ESA?
After my internship, I would like to do my Master’s degree in Astrophysics and to do research on Observational Astrophysics and (exo)planetary science.  Maybe after this, I will apply for a Young Graduate Trainee position in ESA. But in any case, I would like to pursue a PhD.   I do not know how my path will be, but all I know is that I will have as a guide the study of those things which impress me.
After completing the traineeship at ESA and attaining my Bachelor degree, I would like to pursue a career in Theoretical Physicist in High Energy Physics, focusing on Mathematical Physics and Quantum Field Theories.  I still don’t know whether my post-graduate studies will be in Greece, elsewhere in Europe or in the USA!
  • Looking back, would you repeat the effort of participating at the Odysseus Contest?
I would have definitely participated again at the Odysseus Contest no matter what the final result of it may be. Odysseus contest was not only a journey into knowledge but it was also a real one, through which I had the chance to see different countries and to meet with other people sharing the same passion about space and science.  From my perspective what you mainly gain from the contest is the experience with working on a project.  It is very important for students to learn how to apply their academic knowledge to practical situations and real projects and the contest provided a great opportunity for this.
When thinking about the time I started working on our project and about where this contest has led me to now, I realize how much I gained by participating in the Odysseus contest.  Not only I had the  valuable opportunity to make international contacts in the Space industry, but I also met new people, I saw new places and I had fun at the same time; I am absolutely sure I would repeat all of the efforts for participating again at the contest!

Dimitris & Konstantinos in the 2016 Odysseus Final

Dimitris is a student at the Department of Physics of the University of Athens and he is now completing his final thesis for the degree.   He is concerned about public outreach and as a member of a university team he recently earned the “Public Engangement Funding Scheme 2017” from Europlanet.  Their project is called “Planets in Your Hand” and is dealing with a demonstration of planetary surface models, presenting the specifications of each planet of our Solar System.  Dimitris is also a volunteer in astronomy and space events organized every year by the University of Athens Observatory, like the World Space Week (WSW), the Reseacher ‘s Night and the Athens Science Festival.  He loves reading books, playing board games with friends and camping for stargazing with his telescope. 

Passion for astronomy

Konstantinos studies Physics at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. His interests vary from solving differential equations to acting in the theater and from playing video games to photography and sightseeing with friends. 

Winners and finalists of the 2017 Odysseus Contest witness launch of Ariane 5 rocket with 4 Galileo satellites

What’s it like witnessing the launch of an Ariane 5 rocket first hand? It’s “unbelievable”, say the members of team Tumbleweed. “We will never forget this experience.” The three young scientists from Austria – Moritz Stephan, Stefan Rietzinger and Julian Rothenbuc with their teacher Mr Josef Pürmayr– were among the winners of this year’s Odysseus space contest, earning them an all-expenses-paid trip to the Spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana to see the launch of Ariane 5 rocket on December 12. Having won first-place honours in the Pioneers category , the three Austrians were joined at the launch viewing platform in South America by Catarina Alves and Tomás Silva of Portugal, who claimed first prize in the Explorers category of competition.

The first-place international prize-winners were also joined by international Pioneers finalists Florent Casagrande, Marti Dupouy, Nicolas Picard, Maciej Ciszewski, Cezary Troska, Piotr Moska from France and Poland with their teachers  Mr Pierre Marquestaut and Mr Tomasz Andreasik

In addition to witnessing the rocket launch, the Odysseus contestants were also treated to a wide program of activities in and around Kourou. They were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the Ariane launch site, providing a valuable chance to talk with the engineers and technicians involved and helping them understand more about the sophisticated challenge of putting a rocket into space.


The launch of Ariane 5 with the four Galileo satellites

Catarina and Tomas in the French Guiana Space Port

The Tumbleweed team in French Guiana

Video from the Ceremony for “European Youth Space Ambassadors” 2017, Uni Graz Austria

The official Ceremony for presenting the diplomas of “European Youth Space Ambassadors” for 2017 to four of the seven winners of the 2017 Odysseus Contest took place at the University of Graz, on Tuesday 28th November 2017, 13:00 – 15:00.

During the ceremony the winners of the first prize for 2017, in the Pioneers Category, the Team Tumbleweed consisting of Moritz Stephan, Stefan Rietzinger and Julian Rothenbuchner with their teacher Mr Markus Holler, from the Sir Karl Popper School, in Vienna, Austria, presented their project “a Wind-propelled Mars Rover” and they were nominated European Youth Space Ambassadors 2017.

Angelina Makula, from the PG St. Ursula School in Salzburg, Austria, who won the Grand Prize in the Junior Skywalkers, with her painting entitled “Earth in the future!”, was also nominated European Youth Space Ambassador 2017.


Odysseus Contestants working on ESA plans to build lunar settlements

Yolanda Trujillo Adria, finalist of the 2016 Odysseus Contest in the Explorers category, completed last month a four months internship at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) of ESA, in Cologne, as she was one of the contestants, who were supported by the Odysseus II project to get further educational and professional experience in the field of Space.   Yolanda talked to the Odysseus Contest team about her experiences from the internship in the European Space Agency.

Yolanda in EAC with Jan Jędryszek, another Odysseus 2016 finalist accepted for an internship in ESA

  • In which project or tasks you were involved during your internship in EAC?

In EAC I worked in building a prototype for a project similar to the one we presented in the Odysseus contest, aiming to demonstrate a different way to increase the coefficient of performance of thermoelectric effects, allowing the manufacturing of space vehicles with a higher rate of efficiency. During my internship, I used the knowledge gained from the work I did for the Odysseus contest in some ESA experiments for developing a demonstrator; a rectangular box into which different devices used in space could be incorporated.

The project in which I worked is called “Thermal Energy Storage in planetary surfaces” and in my case the test application was the moon because I was part of ESA’s team working into a plan for building a village in the moon.

I used thermometric modules in order to produce electricity to supply the moon base. During my stage in EAC I build a prototype that is aimed to collect the heat from the Sun during the day in the moon and then will use this heat during the moon night – the night in the south pole of the Moon where ESA is planning to build the village lasts around 56 hours.

The idea is to collect this heat into a square prism full of regolith that will be heated during the moon day. As the regolith is not a good transmissior, we tried to ensure enough heat to produce electricity during the night by means of thermoelectric devices (peltier cells) that will surround the prism and will use the difference of temperature between the inside – heat regolith – and the outside – ambient lunar temperature during the night. In this way we can produce some electricity, but in order to improve it a little more, we also used a magnetic field to increase the efficiency of the thermoelectric devices.

An image of the Village ESA is planing to build on the moon

  • How would you describe your routine day in EAC? 

It was never the same routine. The different things you are involved into and learn make every day different. The first two weeks in EAC I was reading papers, before starting preparing my demonstrator. The colleagues were interested in my work and often came with suggestions for papers suitable for this project. Soon, I figured that I needed more than four months for my project to be completed. The materials that are necessary for the preparation of the experiments required to be available in the lab for longer time, than I anticipated and they are expensive. Therefore I used my time in EAC to implement all the lab work and I will calibrate my thesis after the end of my internship.

Yolanda and Jan in the European Astronaut Centre

  • What is the most intriguing aspect of work in a Space Agency?

The actual work in a multinational environment like the European Astronaut Centre is really intriguing. The human interaction in EAC with all these amazing people makes you feel that something original exists. Quite soon, I realised that I could do things faster and a lot more that even myself expected. The people I met in EAC were an enormous source of mental power and encouragement.

  • Do you think that the Odysseus internship at ESA was worthwhile? 

I would say without hesitation that it is worthwhile and fulfilled all my expectations.

Yolanda with her team mate Said Abouali Sánchez visiting the Kuru Space Port in November 2016 with the ODYSSEUS group

Yolanda has recently graduated from the Polytechnic University of Valencia with a degree in in Aerospace Engineering and apart from her passion for Space she is also actively participating in various social and cultural activities.   She has just won a grant for young writers and she will attend an artistic residence in the Fundación Antonio Gala in Cordoba. She has worked for the programme Futurelab Europe, with the aim to put together stories about refugees women in Europe that will be published in a book and would be transferred to a theater play in order to raise awareness about the problems of women refugees. Since last May Yolanda is a member of the executive committee of the European Students Union.

Ceremony for the European Youth Space Ambassadors 2017

An official Ceremony for presenting the diplomas of “European Youth Space Ambassadors” for 2017 to four of the seven winners of the 2017 Odysseus Contest will take place at the University of Graz, on Tuesday 28th November 2017, 13:00 – 15:00.

During the ceremony the winners of the first prize for 2017, in the Pioneers Category, the Team Tumbleweed consisting of Moritz Stephan, Stefan Rietzinger and Julian Rothenbuchner with their teacher Mr Markus Holler, from the Sir Karl Popper School, in Vienna, Austria, will present their project “a Wind-propelled Mars Rover” and they will be nominated European Youth Space Ambassadors 2017.

Angelina Makula, from the PG St. Ursula School in Salzburg, Austria, who won the Grand Prize in the Junior Skywalkers, with her painting entitled “Earth in the future!”, will be also nominated European Youth Space Ambassador 2017.

The invitation and programme for the Ceremony for the European Youth Space Ambassadors 2017, could be downloaded here.


Congratulations to the 2017 Skywalkers Winners!

This year, 2829 pupils 7 to 13 years old from around the world participated in the Skywalkers category of the Odysseus Contest.  As their boundless imagination was captured by Space, they created amazing artwork, which made the task of the evaluators very difficult.  After two rounds of selection we are delighted to announce the 2017 International winners of the Skywalkers category and to thank all the contestants, their teachers and families for helping make Odysseus Contest a success.

In Juniors Skywalkers Angelina Makula, from the PG St. Ursula School in Salzburg, Austria wins the Grand Prize with the picture entitled “Earth in the future! Erde in der Zukunft”.

Earth in the future! Erde in der Zukunft

Otylia Korczak from Szkoła Podstawowa, in Świątniki Górne, Poland won second place honors with the picture “Europa w kosmosie – Europe in space”.

Giacomo Bertoli, from the “Cristoforo Colombo” primary school, in Pantianicco, Italy created an inspiring construction entitled “Skermus” with robots in a Mars base and won third place honors.

Europa w kosmosie



In the Senior Skywalkers Kim Hansen, from Collège Stendhal, in Toulouse, France wins the Grand Prize, with “Seule”, picturing a young girl looking at the night sky and wondering if Earth is the only inhabited planet in the Universe.


Danny Enjalran, from Collège la Sidoine, in Trévoux, France won second place honors with “Tentaculore” a sculpture made by clay, picturing a monster absorbing planets.

Eleni Tsakmani, from the 1st Experimental Primary School of Thessaloniki, Greece, won third place honors with  a colorful and impressive picture entitled “Το σύμπαν με μια άλλη ματιά – The Universe with another look”, showing an alternative way of drawing the Universe.


The Univerrse with another look


Non-EU 2017 Skywalker Winners and Runners-Up

Many thanks to the 181 Skywalker contestants from non-EU countries for their enthusiastic participation in the 2017 Odysseus contest and congratulations to all for their amazing entries, which made the task of selecting the winners very difficult.

In the Juniors category the 2017 winner is Elçin Ateş, from the Fenerbahçe Koleji, in Istanbul, Turkey, with the picture entitled “Flaming sun”.

Flaming Sun

In Seniors the 2017 non-EU winner is Isabela Araujo Jara, from the Colegio Saint Andrew’s, in La Florida, Bolivia, with the picture “En el cosmos”.

En el cosmos

Five more entries (3 Juniors and 2 Seniors) qualified as runners-up to the final round of selection.

In the Juniors category the runners-up are: Diana Helen Kristensen, from Norway with the picture “Dronningen Lapiz – The queen Lapiz”,  Viktoria Lagård, also from Norway with the picture “Liv i verdensrommet – Life in space” and Shelda Santos, from East Timor, with the picture “O calor do Sol”.

In Seniors the two runners-up are: Felipe Bordalo, from Brazil, with the picture “Foguete Despravador – Pioneer Rocket” and Nicolas Zapata Arce from Bolivia, with the picture “Fiesta de Planetas”.

Dronningen Lapiz – The queen Lapiz

Liv i verdensrommet – Life in space

O calor do Sol

Foguete Despravador

Fiesta de Planetas

Belgian Skywalker 2017 Winner and Runner Up

Congratulations to all Skywalkers from Belgium, who submitted very inspiring artwork in the 2017 Odysseus contest.

The winner is Mac Tran, pupil at the Collège Saint Pierre Uccle, with the picture entitled “Système solaire”.

One more entry from Belgium also qualified to the final round of selection.  It is the picture “Diastimiki Poli – Space City” submitted by Polyxeni Koutsouki (Juniors category).

Système solaire

Diastimiki Poli

Skywalkers winners and runners up from France

Congratulations to the 348 Skywalkers from France, who submitted very inspiring and artistic drawings and artwork related to space.

The 2017 national winner in the Juniors category is Thomy Simon, from the Nelson Mandela school, in Saint Sylvestre, with the artwork entitled “Marcher sur l’anneau de Saturne”

Marcher sur l’anneau de Saturne











In the Seniors category the 2017 winner is Kim Hansen, from the Collège Stendhal, in Toulouse, with the picture “Seule”


In addition to these  artworks four more Juniors’ entries and seven Seniors’ also qualified for the final round of selection.

In the Juniors category these are Charlotte Simon with the picture “Rencontre extraterrestre”, Léa Amedei with the picture “La Terre vue de haut”, Hugo Dias with the picture “Les limites de l’espace” and Clément Benard with the artwork “L’homme qui marche sur Uranus”.

Rencontre extraterrestre

La Terre vue de haut

Les limites de l’espace

L’homme qui marche sur Uranus


























In the Seniors the other seven entries qualifying to the final round of selection are:  Matt Gabriel, with the picture “La lune vue de Minecraft”, Léo Peckre with the picture “Enjoy but take care”, Danny Enjalran with the artwork “Tentaculore”, Gino O’Connel with the picture “Des humains sur Mars”, Paul Vidal-Ghione with the picture “Des humains sur Mars”, Durand Baptiste with the artwork “L’homme qui marchera sur Mars” and Blanche Navarro with the artwork entitled “StarDust”.

La lune vue de Minecraft

Enjoy but take care


“Des humains sur Mars” by Gino

“Des humains sur Mars” by Paul

L’homme qui marchera sur Mars



















Congratulations to the 2017 Pioneers and Explorers winners and to all Odysseus finalists!

Odysseus II Contest celebrated the closing of the second cycle of competition for the Pioneers and Explorers categories with a great final event. This year’s Odysseus final and awards ceremony took place at the Cite de l’espace in Toulouse, France, between 4 and 7 of July.

During these four days 35 participants (25 Pioneers and 10 Explorers, who qualified to the final after two rounds of selection at national and regional level), plus teachers and members of their families from 11 countries, participated in many educational activities focusing on space and science, had fun and made new friends, while they met with scientists and experts on space and had the chance to demonstrate their abilities and enthusiasm for space.

Visiting SAE-Supaéro

Observing Jupiter

The finalists were also welcomed in Cite de l’espace by Mr Maros Sefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission and other officials including Mr Jean-Luc Moudenc, Mayor of Toulouse and Mr Jean-Yves Le Gall President of CNES (National Space Agency of France) and among other things they had the chance to visit the renowned engineering school of aeronautics and space SAE-Supaéro.

The 2017 Odysseus Finalists with the Vice President of the European Commission, the President of CNES, the Head of the French Meteorological Service, the Mayor of Toulouse and other officials in Cite de l’espace

The entries presented in the final impressed the Jury panel, which consisted of distinguished scientists, experts, space industry representatives and an astronaut.   All judges praised the quality of the projects, as well as the dedication, hard work, enthusiasm and attention to detail of all finalists and admitted that it was really hard to select the top entries.

The Jury Panel, from left to right Dr Manolis Georgoulis, Dr Jan Kolar, Dr Gil Denis, Mr Michel Maignan, Dr Claudie Haignere and Mr Daniel Hernandez

With so many excellent projects the selection of the winners was a hard job

They also noticed that the knowledge as well as the communication and problem solving skills that the finalists demonstrated during the final were amazing and are certainly a solid foundation for a career in science and in space.

Many teams displayed great gadgets and unique ideas for space exploration.

At our awards ceremony at the Cite de l’espace on Friday 7 July, the three top projects per category were announced and all finalists were presented with their prizes and telescopes for winning the Regional semi-finals.

Family photo of the 2017 Odysseus Finalists with members of the Jury Panel and the Odysseus contest team

In the Pioneers category the top team and winner of the first prize for 2017 was the Team Tumbleweed consisting of Moritz Stephan, Stefan Rietzinger and Julian Rothenbuchner with teacher Mr Markus Holler, from the Sir Karl Popper School, in Vienna, Austria.

Moritz, Stefan and Julian winners of the Grand Prize in the Pioneers category with their teacher Mag. Josef Pürmayr

Second was the team Team AstroVianu from Tudor Vianu National High School, in Bucharest, Romania with Monica Dobrinou and Andreea Zaharia with teacher Ms Ioana Stoica.

In the third place was the team Plan B from the Zanneio Experimental Lyceum, Piraeus, Greece, consisting of Andreas Vatistas, Athanasios Vasilainas and Giorgos Kalpaxis with their teacher Mr Sotirios Tsantilas.

In addition the Jury presented the following special recognition awards:

  • Award for Technical Merit to the team Plan B from the Zanneio Experimental Lyceum Greece, for their project “Exoplanet Pursuit”
  • Award for the Most Promising Project, to the team Planet Hunters (Guilhem Chambaud, Valentine Ducatteau and Emma Voican with the teacher Mr Sylvain Bonnafous) from the Collège Antoine Courrière, Cuxac-cabardès, France , for the project “Une exoplanète dans mon collège”
  • Award for Thinking out of the Box, to the team Laertiadae classis (Linda Raimondo from Liceo scientifico Norberto Rosa and Francesco Maio from Liceo scientifico Alessandro Volta, and their teacher Ms Maura Bruno) with the project “Journey to Gusev”
  • Award for Social Relevance, to the Astromisie team, from Wroclaw, Poland (Maciej Ciszewski, Cezary Troska, Piotr Moska and their teacher Mr Tomasz Andreasik) for the project entitled “Top non-technical challenges of long space flights”.
  • Award for Scientific Rigor, to the Team AstroVianu from Tudor Vianu National High School, in Bucharest, Romania for the project “Astroplants”.

“Thinking Out of the Box”

Out of the Box Thinking about Architecture on Mars

In the Explorers category the winners of the Grand Prize of the 2017 Odysseus Contest were Catarina Alves and Tomás Silva, students at the University of Porto, Portugal.

Catarina and Tomás, 2017 Winners of the Grand Prize in the Explorers Category

In the second place honors was Aleksander Knutsen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.

Daniel Movilla student at the ”Gh. Asachi” Technical University, Iași, Romania, won third place honors.

The Jury also presented special recognition awards to the following students:

  • Award for Scientific Rigor to Aleksander Knutsen for the project “High-altitude balloons on Mars”
  • Award for Inspiring Technology to Sara Berent and Robert Gordon from Glasgow University, United Kingdom for the project “The SAROBI TITAN Mission”
  • Award for Thinking out of the Box to Daniel Movilla for the project “3D Printed Mars”