Schedule 2012 campaign

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ESA / Education / Fly Your Thesis!

The application and selection process will include various steps:

A.1 Project definition for all applicants

During this phase, the applicants will compose their team, find an endorsing professor or academic supervisor and start to think about their project.
They will also write a Letter of Intent that will give all the details of their project definition. This document will pave the way for the Scientific Proposal.

  • Documents expected: letter of intent (LOI) and letter of endorsement
  • Deadline: 12/07/2010

A.2. Review of the LOI and first selection of up to 20 teams.

The Review Board will be composed of experts from ELGRA, Human Spaceflight Directorate and ESA Education Office.

  • Results will be announced by the end of September 2010;
  • All the pre-selected teams will then be offered the support from a mentor from the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA).

B.1 Writing of scientific and technical proposal by selected applicants

After defining their project, students must consider in detail how the experiment will be carried out. At the end of this process, they will be expected to have considerable knowledge of the scientific theory related to their project – both in a qualitative and quantitative way. Further selection will be based on the following two documents:

1. The Scientific Proposal will focus on the scientific and theoretical aspects of the project. Using this information, students will show that they have good knowledge of their topic, using references to bibliography and scientific literature in the field and giving details of the expected results. With supervision from their mentor, students will learn how to meet the requirements of the writing of a Scientific Proposal.

2. Students will also be asked to submit a first version of the Experiment Safety Data Package (ESDP). In this document, which is required from all teams that participate in ESA Parabolic Flight Campaigns, all the technical aspects of the experiment rack are defined: size, mass, nature of all the components, resistance to shocks, behaviour in zero-g, electrical requirements, etc. All these aspects will be assessed during the Safety Review (step B.2.). Information regarding the level of information requested for this first version of the ESDP can be found in the document 'Introductory Note', from Novespace.

As a conclusion to this preparation phase there will be a workshop at an ESA centre (Step B.1.). During this workshop, the teams will present their projects to the Review Board. This workshop will include a tour of the facilities.

  • Documents expected: Scientific Proposal, first version of Experiment Safety Data Package (ESDP)
  • Deadline: 17/01/2011

B.2 Evaluation by the Review Board and safety review by prime contractor

The Review Board will evaluate the Scientific Proposals from all the pre-selected teams. Novespace will assist this evaluation by providing a review based on safety and feasibility of all the first versions of the ESDP submitted by the teams. As a result of this process, the best experiments will be selected to fly on the Microgravity Research Campaign.

  • Final selection of up to four teams expected in March 2011.

C. Experiment preparation

Based on the Scientific Proposal, the ESDP and the Review Board feedback, the selected teams will start improving their design. Their endorsing professors and ELGRA Mentors (if applicable) will focus on the scientific aspects of these improvements. Each of the selected teams will also be put into contact with an engineer from Novespace, who will review the preparation and the design of the experimental set-up and procedure. The team will send on a regular basis updated versions of their ESDP to have it reviewed by their Novespace engineer. Finally, the teams will start to implement and build their experiment rack, helped by qualified professionals, after they received the go-ahead from ESA and Novespace experts. The building costs will be partly supported by ESA’s Education Office.

D. Parabolic flights campaign

Selected teams will fly during an ESA’s Microgravity Research Campaign in autumn 2012. The two week long campaign will take place in Bordeaux, France. The teams will participate in three flights of 30 parabolas each, experiencing about 20 seconds of microgravity during each parabola.

E. Analysis of results

The teams will analyse the results obtained during the flights and eventually write a scientific paper co-authored by the ELGRA Mentor. As a conclusion to the programme, the students will provide ESA’s Education Office with a final report, including all the relevant information, results and conclusions from the investigation. Some students could also be sponsored to attend international conferences (such as the ELGRA Biennial Symposium) and present their results to the scientific community.

Please note that the dates and deadlines detailed above are subject to change without prior notice.