LOST supermarket trolleys across the country could now find their way home thanks to the ideas of a Portsmouth High School student.
Lowena Hull won £7,500 in a competition to come up with ideas on how satellites can improve life on Earth, run by the UK Space Agency.
The 17-year-old took the top prize in the agency’s SatelLife competition for young people, for her idea on tracking down lost trolleys which would use satellites to monitor the location of supermarket trolleys taken off site and allow them to be reclaimed.
The A-level student, from Rowlands Castle, who came up with her winning idea after seeing abandoned trolleys around Portsmouth, said: ‘I started looking into it and the more research I did the more I realised it’s a massive issue and really bad for the environment.’
In 2015 1.5m trolleys were taken from supermarkets and abandoned, with significant environmental impacts.
Lowena said: ‘I heard about the SatelLife competition online and it looked like such a great competition. Space has always been a topic that has fascinated me and I’ve grown more interested as I’ve got older.
‘Now my idea is something I’d like to take further. It’s a good opportunity to get supermarkets involved and it would benefit them as well as councils and the government and everyone who lives in the areas affected.’
Now in its third year, the SatelLife competition aims to encourage 11 to 22-year-olds to think about how satellites impact our everyday lives and learn more about the careers available in the sector.
Emily Gravestock, head of applications at the UK Space Agency, said: ‘The quality of entries this year was very high.
‘We were particularly pleased to see such a wide variety of satellite applications being used. These young people clearly recognised the diversity of areas that satellites impact on our day-to-day lives and Lowena’s entry was an innovative solution to a real problem.
‘We were impressed by how Lowena identified an issue that is not routinely highlighted and worked to build a prototype to demonstrate how this would work. I look forward to seeing how she develops her idea in the future.’
Lowena will now go on to pitch her idea to a panel of industry experts at the Harwell Space Cluster in Oxfordshire in June in the hope of gaining further support to turn it into reality.
In 2017 Sam Frampton, a university graduate from Fareham, won £5,000 in the SatelLife competition for his idea to track health-hazard pollutants with the aim of reducing the impact of poor air quality on health.