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ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli on the International Space Station

Participate in ESA’s Human Space Physiology training course

11/12/2017 8891 views 27 likes
ESA / Education / ESA Academy

What is it really like to live in space? What happens to the body in microgravity? Now, thanks to a training course being offered by ESA’s Education and Space Medicine Offices, medical and biology university students can find out.

ESA’s Education Office is inviting BSc and MSc university students studying medicine, allied healthcare subjects, life, biomedical or biomedical sciences to apply to the Human Space Physiology training course 2018. The course will be held between 20 and 24 March 2018, when selected students will be invited to the ESA Academy’s Training and Learning Centre at ESA’s European space Security and Education Centre (ESEC) in Belgium.

Students will discover how spaceflight represents a significant physiological challenge for the human body. Having evolved in Earth’s gravity, our bodies must adapt when in microgravity. These changes to the human body must be understood in order to be able to develop effective strategies to support humans during prolonged missions to space. 

Students taking part in the Human Space Physiology training in 2017
Students taking part in the Human Space Physiology training in 2017

During the four-day course, students will learn about the range of approaches used to study the physiological effects of spaceflight, including various ground-based analogues and models of the space environment, such as long-term (head down) bed rest and over-wintering in Antarctica. Approaches to mitigate the effects of weightlessness on the human body will also be discussed.

In addition to face-to-face and videoconference lectures, students will work on a mini-project in groups of 4 or 5 and will present it to the other participants on the final day of the course. Topics will include major issues and challenges facing human spaceflight such as: Female flyers - how can/should female astronaut health be addressed?; Bouncing babies - what could the biological effect of being born in partial gravity be on human development?

The students in ESEC will be joined by students at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, who are registered in EAC partner programmes with the two sites collaborating via video conferencing. 

Students participating in this training course can expect to be introduced to the following topics: 

  • What it’s really like to live in space
  • The challenges, lessons, and successes that have led to permanent occupation of the International Space Station, and the conditions it must provide to protect and support life
  • Human Space Physiology research performed both in space and on Earth
  • How the senses perceive being ‘weightless’ in an orbiting space vehicle
  • How key physiological systems respond to microgravity, what mechanisms underlie these changes, and some approaches that may be used to mitigate such effects
  • Major issues and challenges facing current human spaceflight and future space exploration.

Interested students can fill in the application form here. The deadline for submission of completed applications is 2 February 2018 at 23:59pm CET.

Further information

Who can apply?

Students enrolled in university and who fulfil the following criteria at the time of application may be eligible:

  • be aged between 18 and 32;
  • be a citizen of an ESA Member or Associate State*;
  • be enrolled as a full-time BSc or MSc student (or equivalent) in a university for the year 2017-2018;
  • be studying medicine, allied healthcare subjects, life, biomedical or biological sciences.

The selected students will be sponsored by ESA’s Education Office. The sponsorship will cover accommodation and meals, as well as up to 200 euros for travelling to Redu, Belgium.

How do I apply?

  • Fill in the application form;
  • Upload a motivation letter (PDF, maximum 1 page, no images);
  • Upload a CV (PDF, maximum 2 pages);
  • Upload a formal recommendation letter (PDF, maximum 1 page, including signature, no images) from a university professor or an academic supervisor from your current university;
  • Upload an official copy of academic records (PDF, in English, with the university stamp);
  • Upload a short abstract (maximum 500 words) based on the title "Being in space induces de-conditioning of numerous physiological systems." Briefly define the major changes observed in a single physiological system and define whether this presents any issues for a return to the Moon (PDF, no images);

For more information, please contact: @

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