The ESA Education Office's 'Fly Your Thesis!' programme is back, after having a short break of three years. The first new flight campaign is planned for late 2016. The deadline for applications is 21 September 2015.
Fly Your Thesis! allows Master and PhD students from ESA Member and Cooperating States to design, build and fly scientific or technology-related experiments in microgravity. These are the conditions that astronauts experience in space. The dramatic reduction of gravity up to a few thousandths of the pull on Earth provides experimental conditions that are impossible to reproduce in ground-based laboratories.
Between 2009 and 2012, there were three editions of Fly Your Thesis! In that time, 11 student experiments were flown, producing many interesting scientific results. Being part of a space project and experiencing microgravity were inspirational for many of the students.
Teams wanting to participate in the Fly your Thesis! programme have to propose an experiment as part of their Master's or PhD thesis or research projects that requires microgravity conditions to be performed and that can be run on parabolic flights.
The selection is a two-step process. Following the submission of the Experiment Proposal, ESA will draw up a shortlist of up to 15 teams. These teams will be given a few more weeks to further develop their Experiment Proposal and fill in the Experiment Safety Data Package (ESDP) document (a technical document required from all teams that participate in ESA Parabolic Flight Campaigns).
Shortlisted students will also be invited to a dedicated selection workshop to be held at ESTEC, in the Netherlands, on 14—15 December 2015, where they will have the opportunity to defend their project in front of a panel of experts.
After this workshop, up to four teams will be selected to further develop their experiment and fly them during an ESA Microgravity Research Campaign that will take place in Bordeaux, France, most probably during autumn of 2016.
During the two-week campaign, the student teams will work in close contact with renowned European scientists carrying out their own research. To perform the experiments, the students will accompany their set-up on three flights of 30 parabolas each. During each parabola, they will experience about 20 seconds of microgravity. The flights will be performed by a specially equipped Airbus A310 Zero-G aircraft operated by Novespace.
All selected teams will be supported by the ESA Education Office, ESA and Novespace microgravity experts. The teams will also be offered mentoring by a member of the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA) to help further develop their investigations. The ESA Education Office will provide financial support to cover part of the cost of the experiment hardware, necessary travel and accommodation.
Interested teams should register on the ESA Education Office's Projects Portal and upload their Experiment Proposal together with a Letter of Endorsement from a professor or academic supervisor from their university.
An overview of the Fly Your Thesis! programme can be found on the ESA Education website.
Full instructions on how to apply can be found here.