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Conditions to apply

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ESA / Education

Eligibility criteria

Students who would like to form a team and participate in the Sentinel-1 Student Transponders project must comply with the following eligibility criteria at the time of the application:

  • be aged 18 to 32;
  • be full-time students (undergraduate, graduate, PhD) at a university based in Poland, Czech Republic or Romania, studying a scientific or engineering subject;
  • hold the nationality of an ESA Member or Cooperating State*.

Team composition

Student teams can be composed of any number of members, as long as all team members fulfill the eligibility criteria; a minimum of three team members is strongly recommended. One student in the team shall be identified as the team leader.

Teams should comprise expertise in different engineering disciplines (Electrical Engineering, Telecommunications Engineering or similar), with a capacity in dealing with RF circuit design. Teams should also have a scientific and/or engineering interest in at least one of the following domains: Earth observation, satellite signals, radio frequencies, radar or SAR instrumentation, applications and science.

The initial composition of the team must be communicated to ESA and shall not be changed throughout the project. If, for exceptional reasons, changes are absolutely necessary, the ESA Education Office must be informed in advance and any changes shall be justified.

According to best practices in the management of a space project, students are advised to include in their team:

  • A project manager to oversee the project time, technical and financial management
  • Different kinds of engineering expertise
  • A scientist to define the parameters of the experiment and interpret the measurements
  • Someone with good communication skills to develop and execute a successful outreach programme.

Academic supervision and access to facilities

Each student team shall be endorsed by the respective university and have an Academic supervisor, for example one of the students’ professors or an academic staff at the applying university. The Academic supervisor is expected to endorse the entire application and development process of the team during the project, and will bear responsibility for the experiment by supervising the overall work of the students.

The Academic supervisor must prove this through an accompanying letter of endorsement that the student team will have to submit to ESA at the time of application; in the letter, the supervisor must guarantee the necessary support to the team, as well as access to university facilities, laboratories, relevant equipment, materials and expertise. The student teams may also indicate external sponsors, such as industry or other research institutions that have agreed to support them (a letter of support must be attached).

 Access to university or external facilities, laboratories and equipment (other than the transponders, which will be provided by ESA), and the coverage of any associated costs is the responsibility of each team and should be agreed by the Academic supervisor and the university before applying to ESA.

The ‘Sentinel-1 Student Transponders’ project can be an integral part of the students’ syllabus. This can for instance be obtained through an undergraduate, Master or PhD thesis or any other research activity that may use the project results to be accomplished (if supported by the applicant’s university).  

Technical support from ESA

ESA, supported by a space contractor company, will offer assistance to the selected team through dedicated lectures and seminars in the team’s country of origin (open events to all interested students and Faculty), formal reviews and presentations (see Project Schedule).

On-call technical assistance will be at the disposal of the teams throughout the whole duration of the project (student.transponders @ The contractor will follow the evolution of the team’s participation until the end of the project, including the possibility of visiting the student teams at their respective Universities and assisting with the preparation of any related papers and presentations etc.

Selection criteria

The student team proposals will be assessed by a panel of space experts from ESA and industry.

Only the two best proposals will be selected based on their quality and scientific or technological interest, the team composition and expertise, the availability of appropriate facilities and laboratories at the respective university, the involvement of the project in the students’ syllabus, and others. The selection will solely be based on the content of the submitted proposals.

* ESA Member States in 2013
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
European Cooperating States
Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Latvia
Cooperating States
Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia

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