Following on from the Maths Careers website’s ‘Mathematics of Planet Earth’ poster competition, I’m going on the assumptions that 1. everyone loves poster competitions, and 2. if they’re related somehow to a particular planet, that’s even better.

The Manchester branch of the British Science Association is running a competition to design a poster around a theoretical upcoming manned mission to Mars, describing some science that solves a problem the Mars lander might face. I think we should encourage people to enter mathematics-based posters (firmly wedging the M in STEM).

How much equipment would they need to carry, and how much would it weigh, and how much fuel would they therefore need? How does the addition of human cargo affect the landing trajectory? And what can the crew possibly use to keep themselves occupied on the long journey except some maths puzzles you’ve invented?

The competition is aimed at school years 7-9 (ages 11-14), and while it’s being run by the Manchester branch, nothing on the website says you have to be based in Manchester to enter.

Will repeating the same move on a Rubik’s cube eventually bring it back to a solved state? And if so, how many turns will it take? Paul Taylor investigates.