‘Drop Your Thesis! 2010’ call for proposals

ZARM Drop Tower in Bremen
23 November 2009

ESA’s Education Office is offering European students a new opportunity to perform experiments in microgravity, using the ZARM drop tower in Bremen, Germany.

The ‘Drop Your Thesis!’ programme gives selected university students the opportunity to develop – as part of their research programme or Masters / PhD thesis - an experiment to be carried out during a series of drops at the Bremen site.

The ZARM facility is one of the best of its type in Europe and attracts scientists from around the world. It features a 146 m high tower surrounded by numerous support facilities and laboratories. The experiment payload is integrated into a drop capsule which is allowed to fall freely, attaining microgravity levels as low as 10-6 g for up to 9.3 s. The level of microgravity is better than that achieved in parabolic flights, or even on orbital platforms (e.g. the International Space Station). In addition, drop towers are extremely versatile and allow the experiment set-up to be adjusted between consecutive drops.

Interested teams should register on the ESA Education Office's project portal and upload their completed experiment proposal template, by 1 March 2010. Proposals from ESA’s Cooperating States are also encouraged.

Interior of the drop tower

The proposals received will be evaluated by a Review Board, which will select the winning team. This team will perform its experiment during ESA’s 2nd Student ZARM Drop Tower Campaign, to be held in Bremen for three weeks during the autumn of 2010.

The team selected to participate in the ‘Drop Your Thesis!’ programme will be supported by ESA's Education Office, ZARM engineers and members of the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA). ESA will offer financial support to cover part of the cost of building the experiment and to cover the costs of team travel and accommodation associated with the campaign.

This opportunity complements other gravity research campaigns recently launched by ESA’s Education Office, such as ‘Fly Your Thesis! - An Astronaut Experience’ and ‘Spin Your Thesis’.

For more information please contact the ‘Drop Your Thesis! ’ team:
dropyourthesis @ esa.int.

The first ‘Drop Your Thesis!’ campaign

The Physics Addicted team

The first ‘Drop Your Thesis!’ campaign involving the ZARM drop tower took place in November 2009, when a team from the University of Porto, Oporto, Portugal, launched an experiment to test the behaviour of Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystals (PDLCs) materials in microgravity. These materials can be used in intelligent buildings to make windows transparent or opaque.

The Porto team comprised the youngest applicants to the ESA 2009 ‘Fly Your Thesis!’ (FYT) programme. Although they were not selected at the final stage, ESA’s Education Office was sufficiently impressed to offer them the opportunity to conduct their experiment at the ZARM facility.

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