Press Release

Winners of children’s competition to receive photographs signed by Tim Peake

By SpaceRef Editor
September 29, 2016
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Children will be awarded their chosen photographs taken by astronauts at a ceremony at the National Space Centre this week.

The nationwide EO Detective competition for children run by the National Centre of Earth Observation (NCEO) at the University of Leicester is the first time that UK children have been able to choose targets on the Earth for astronauts to photograph.

The children’s prizes – photographs of the areas they wanted to investigate, signed by British European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake – will be presented at a ceremony on Saturday 1 October 2016 at the National Space Centre. This coincides with the start of World Space week, which will be marked with a World Space Evening at the National Space Centre.

Children were invited to enter the competition, which was funded by UK Space Agency and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) as part of the Principia mission education programme, during Peake’s stay on the International Space Station (ISS). They had to explain where on Earth they would like an astronaut to photograph and what they hoped the image would reveal about our planet.

During his six-month mission, Tim Peake regularly shared his stunning pictures of the Earth on social media and noted on Twitter (May 19) that there is: “Simply never a dull moment looking out of the window … planet Earth is mesmerising!”

There were around a thousand entries coming from Inverness to Jersey, from Belfast to Norwich, and an extra category had to be added for younger children.

Libby Jackson, Astronaut Flight Education Programme Manager at UK Space Agency, who will present the prizes, said: “We had no idea how many entries there would be for the competition, or how many people it would appeal to. As well as the children, hundreds of others, from countries across the world, offered suggestions in reply to Tim’s messages about the competition on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”

Senior NCEO staff including the Director, Professor John Remedios of the University of Leicester, judged the competition and had great difficulty selecting the four winners because of the wide range of locations and the interesting reasons entrants gave for choosing them.

The winning entries described clever ways to use photographs to investigate deforestation in Brazil, the expansion of a refugee camp in Jordan, an intermittent lake in Australia, and methane emissions near pig farms in Indiana.

Remedios says: “This prize-giving is a celebration of the wealth of information that you can get from space and of children’s creativity. Tim Peake’s mission has inspired a generation: from our side it has been exciting to work with schools and space agencies to realise the children’s ideas.”

UK scientists use imagery taken from space, including astronaut photography, every day in their work to better understand aspects of the Earth’s changing environment – from weather and climate to animal migration. Tim Peake’s stay on the ISS provided a chance to celebrate the strength of space science research in the UK and inspire a new generation of scientists who will use Earth observation data.

Images to inspire students and other updates are posted regularly on Twitter by @EODetective ( For further information please contact

SpaceRef staff editor.