The CanSat concept was first introduced in the late 1990s by the American professor Robert Twiggs. It provides an affordable way to introduce students to the many challenges in building a satellite. Students design and build a small electronic payload that can fit inside a soda can. The CanSat is launched and ejected from a rocket or a balloon. By the use of a parachute, the CanSat slowly descends back to earth performing its mission while transmitting telemetry.

Norwegian Competition
NAROM arranged the first Norwegian CanSat competition in 2009 where four teams from Norwegian upper secondary schools got to launch their CanSats up to an altitude of one kilometer with a rocket from Andøya. All teams achieved their mission and got god data from the CanSat. You can watch a short video from the 2009 Camp by clicking the image below.

The winning team from 2009 with the Intruder rocket

This year a total of 20 teams from upper secondary schools all over Norway handed in proposals to compete for the opportunity to get their CanSats launched from a rocket. Six teams were picked out, and all 6 CanSats will be launched the 27th of April 2010 from Andøya.

European Competition
The European Space Agency, ESA, is this year arranging a pilot CanSat competition involving 11 teams from 10 different member states. All teams are from upper secondary schools with pupil at the age of 16 +. The competition is organised in collaboration with the Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education (NAROM) and the launch will take place at Andøya the 15th to 19th of August 2010.

The CanSat Rocket
As a launch vehicle for the CanSats NAROM is using a commercially available amateur rocket kit, called the Intruder. The rocket is 1.5 meters long and can carry two CanSats to an altitude of approximately 1 kilometer.  The vertical acceleration exceeds 10 G, and the rocket reaches its maximum velocity of 544 km/h in less than two seconds!

Some usefull background information can be found here:
USA competition
Dutch competition
Spanish competition
European CanSat Competition