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  1. ITV Report

Missing space balloon found

Mars balloon Photo: ITV News

A lost space capsule, launched six months ago from a school in Somerset on a mission to Mars, has turned up - in Nottinghamshire.

Pupils and engineers thought they'd lost their balloon and mascot forever after it set off towards space from Frome. But a farm worker found them in a remote field, and one of the mission's cameras captured dramatic footage of the journey towards space.

The balloon, named Deimos, was being sent 30 kilometres into space where conditions are just like the surface of Mars. Pupils from Oakfield Academy in Frome chose items to send with Deimos - anything astronauts might want on the planet.

Space engineer Andrew Bacon says the choices were eclectic: "Food, like champagne jelly, in case astronauts might want champagne on Mars, and one of my personal favourites, chewing gum to see if it would lose its mintiness in space!"

The experiment took place in March, but the weather on the day was particularly bad and Oakfield Academy pupils faced the toughest possible take-off conditions.

"We all helped pump it up and staff helped hold it," said 11 year old former Oakfield student, Ben Steel. "Because it was such horrible weather I was one of only ten people that stayed to launch it and I was proud of that."

Deimos battled, and it even survived a crash but eventually disappeared without trace until a farm worker found it 200 miles away in Nottinghamshire.

"I got a call to say I've found something and it has your phone number," Andrew Bacon told us. "I couldn't believe it - I'm still in shock."

Farmer Simon, of East Markham, in Nottinghamshire, said: "I wasn’t sure what I had found at first, but after I spoke to the project leader I was really glad I noticed it."The project sounded really amazing and I've now bought myself a telescope, so it is clearly inspiring."

And amazingly Cassie the Space Hedgehog mascot survived.

"There was an intense social media campaign to try and find her," Andrew Bacon said.

Vital information has been learned from the Deimos Mission - including the news that grapes would explode on Mars.

The mission may help produce even more important results for the Government's huge investment in the space industry. By 2020 another 25,000 engineers will be needed to work on new projects.

The Deimos experiment is a great way to get children interested in a career in the space industry. The engineers are happy it's Mission accomplished!

Oakfield Academy were delighted to be given the opportunity to take part in SEA's experiments to find out about life on Mars. Our Gifted and Talented scientists in Key Stage 2 prepared several eggs with different experiments to test whether life on Mars was viable using everyday items we use today on Earth. We spent a very rainy and windswept morning releasing the balloons with the experiments inside and were saddened to here that one of the balloons had not been found. Luckily the children were able to obtain their experiments and analyse their results from the balloon that had been found. We were increasingly thrilled that the other balloon had been found and that all the children's experimental results could now be analysed.'

– Rachel Gardner, Oakfield Academy