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Build your own INTEGRAL spacecraft

Build your own INTEGRAL spacecraft

Before starting this project, read the information provided on this page carefully.

In 2001, scientists and engineers from across Europe delivered a large, precious package to ESA: the 4000 kg INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory. When INTEGRAL was launched the following year, on 17 October, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, it carried 4 cutting-edge instruments designed to investigate sources of high-energy radiation in the cosmos.

Since its launch, INTEGRAL – which is an ESA mission in cooperation with Russia and the United States - has gone on to play a major role in gamma-ray astronomy. The spacecraft has seen gamma-rays at the centre of the Milky Way that are suspected to be caused by the annihilation of matter and antimatter. Data from the mission suggest that a supernova explosion occurs somewhere in our galaxy every 50 years. INTEGRAL has also studied about 100 black holes and neutron stars in our Galaxy, but detected only a surprisingly small number of supermassive black holes in neighbouring galaxies.

Take up the challenge – build a model of INTEGRAL

As part of this project, you will build your own scale model of the INTEGRAL spacecraft. You can choose any material you like, such as, cardboard, paper, wood, everyday packaging, LEGO®, K'NEX or anything else that may be suitable. There is also no restriction on the scale of the model.

Record your project with a video diary

To enter the competition, you are required to make a video diary to record the construction of the model. The diary should be no more than 10 minutes in length and should document the different phases of construction as well as explain what the different parts of the spacecraft do. For instructions on submitting your video diary for the competition, see Submit entry.

The INTEGRAL spacecraft

To help you build your scale model, the spacecraft's 'vital statistics' are provided. A number of images and drawings that can guide you through the process are also available to view or download from the right-hand menu.

Judging the project

The video diary will be watched by a panel of judges that includes scientists and engineers working on the INTEGRAL mission. It is important to ensure that the video does justice to your model and its construction process. The judges will be looking at the following:

  • Quality of the model
  • Originality of the model
  • Detail included in the model: its proportions, similarity to the original, whether or not instruments are included.
  • Originality and ingenuity in the use of materials, their descriptions and the reasons for your choice.
  • Presentation of the video diary

Hints and tips

  • Do not forget to include the scale of your model
  • You should consider explaining why the spacecraft is designed the way it is, in terms of its shape and the lay out of the instruments etc.
  • Make sure that the video recording is of good quality in terms of picture and sound.
  • Check each section of the video recorded (including sound) as you go along, so that it can be recorded again straight away if necessary.
  • Good lighting and quality of the video will help the judges see your model clearly
  • For a personal touch, you may consider introducing all the model builders briefly. All entries submitted will be required to complete a photograph and film consent form, details of which can be found on the Submit entry page.
  • Entries will be accepted from individual students or from groups of up to 6
  • Video diaries entered into the 14-16 and 17-19 year old categories must be made in English.
  • For entries that fall into the 13 years old and under category, if it is not possible to submit the video diary in English, it can be made in the student's native language with an English transcript of the dialogue provided.

Check these pages regularly throughout the duration of the competition for any updates and further information.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the competition or would like to be notified of any updates, contact Rebecca Barnes at

Last Update: 1 September 2019
23-May-2024 03:04 UT

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