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View of the deceleration pipe below the 120 m high steel tube

Drop Your Thesis! 2021 call for proposals

14/05/2020 1637 views 16 likes
ESA / Education / Drop Your Thesis!

Imagine dropping your experiment from 120 metres high to the floor below. For the few seconds it takes the experiment to fall that distance, the payload experiences weightlessness similar to the perpetual free fall of being in orbit. If the experiment can collect data quickly, then dropping it in a specialized facility is a much cheaper option than launching it into space. 

Status: OPEN
Deadline: November 22, 2020, 23:59 CET

The Drop Your Thesis! (DYT) programme of ESA Academy offers university students the opportunity to drop their experiment within a capsule in ZARM’s Drop Tower Facility in Bremen, Germany. This drop tower is one of the tallest and best-known drop tower facilities in Europe, with a height of 146 m and supporting control rooms, laboratories and workshops. Within the tower, a 120 m high steel tube from which air can be evacuated, accommodates all technical components to achieve 10-6 g, also known as microgravity. 

Previous DYT participation included Team Bubbles, from the International Space University, Strasbourg. They successful recreated sonoluminescence, i.e. a flash of light generated by the collapse of a bubble of air suspended in a flask of liquid, under microgravity conditions. The team leader shares his feedback “It was a transformative experience, very challenging but reinforced university education and I now feel able to go further into becoming a scientist. We would encourage any other students considering it to take the plunge and gain invaluable experience!”.

DYT gives students the experience of working in a professional project environment, allows them to build their CVs and their professional network and hence fosters a good start to careers in Europe’s space industry. 

A student team integrating its payload in the ZARM capsule
A student team integrating its payload in the ZARM capsule

“The Drop Your Thesis! programme offers a full package experience for the student teams. Tasks such as financial budgeting, risk assessments, experiment automation, communication with stakeholders and reporting, all equip the students with critical knowledge on how to manage a project at all levels for their impending careers”, says Nigel Savage, programme coordinator for DYT. 

ESA Academy is looking to sponsor teams of 4 or more university students from ESA Member States, Slovenia and Canada. Students applying to this call should adopt ESA’s principles on diversity and equal opportunities into account when forming their teams, as well as the eligibility requirements mentioned on this page. More details on how to apply can be found here.

The schedule of Drop Your Thesis! 2021 can be found at this page. ZARM and ESA Academy experts will work closely with the selected teams in order to develop the experiments in time and carry out the campaign in late 2021.

For further information, please contact dropyourthesis @