WIDE-EYED children across the county have been inspired to reach for the stars thanks to our very own space hero Tim Peake.

The British astronaut rocketed into the public's imagination during his six-month mission to the international space station, regularly appearing on TV and broadcasting his thoughts on social media.

But as Major Tim returned to ground control on Saturday after an exhilarating descent his colleagues at Harwell Campus were quick to hail the effect of his exploits on Oxfordshire's young people.

Campus director Dr Barbara Ghinelli said: "There was a teaching programme in which he conducted a series of science experiments as part of the curriculum for thousands of schoolchildren aged 11 to 19.

"For most, the first visible part of this programme was the Cosmic Classroom, a livestream broadcast conducted by him and delivered into classrooms across the nation.

"This placed the exciting world of space science right in front of thousands of children, who were able to listen to Major Peake speaking about his endeavours and ask questions.

"Literally, there could not be a higher platform from which to inspire a career in science and space Stem to young people.

"Major Peake’s mission marks the first significant step in creating a culture shift around maths and science, and therefore addressing the UK skills shortfall."

OUR reporter Georgina Campbell will be at a live press conference with Major Tim Peake in Cologne today as he talks about his six-month space adventure.

The astronaut will describe his fiery descent from orbit and how he is doing after spending half a year in the International Space Station.

He might also reveal if he fulfilled his wish once he’d landed on Earth – eating a pizza and drinking a beer.

Georgina will be firing questions at the 44-year-old, who has inspired a generation about space exploration and science. 

You can suggest questions by tweeting @oxmailgeorginac or using the comments below

During his time in orbit, Major Peake ran a marathon and conducted more than 250 experiments.

One school in Banbury which tuned into his live broadcast was Space Studio Banbury, in Ruskin Road.

Dr Liam Fishwick, head of science, said the students had been "inspired and engaged throughout his journey".

He added: "This is a once in a lifetime moment and we wanted to grab it with both hands.

"Throughout Major Peake's mission we engaged with a number of activities, including his Cosmic Classroom broadcast, and our year 10s worked on projects that look at preparing the human body for such an extraordinary feat.

"We are preparing the next generation of scientists, astronauts and physicists. What better way to encourage them than to have this amazing example that we can show them as part of our teaching."

Dr Fishwick said if he met Major Peake the one question he would ask would be: "Where do you think this leads the future of human space flight?"

The eighth ESA astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in space, Major Peake was missed by his colleagues at Harwell.

Margherita Buoso, head of communications, said: "We can't wait to welcome him back properly. Of course it is going to be a while before he's back with us as he will have to have lots of different tests.

"It is all extremely exciting and we hope this has regenerated enthusiasm for British and European space exploration and discovery."