Student team selected for 'Drop Your Thesis!' 2012

Interior of the drop tower
17 April 2012

The GAGa DropT team has been selected to develop and perform their microgravity experiment during ESA’s 4th 'Drop Your Thesis' campaign.

This 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 5 launches at the ZARM drop tower in Bremen, Germany.

After careful evaluation of the experiment proposals, a review board comprising experts from ESA’s Education Office, ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight and Operations, ZARM-FABmbH and ELGRA (European Low Gravity Research Association) has selected the following experiment proposal: Granular Anisotropic Gases in Drop Tower (GAGa DropT).

ZARM Drop Tower in Bremen

GAGa DropT, a team composed of two PhD students and one Master’s student from Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg Germany, proposed an experiment to investigate the behaviour of granular anisotropic gases in microgravity. Anisotropic granular gases are encountered in a number of situations – in avalanches, sandstorms, dust devils, the formation and motion of dunes, planetary rings, and the asteroid belt, to name a few. Study of anisotropic granular gases has, until now, been primarily restricted to numerical computer simulations.

This student experiment will use two 10x10x10cm boxes partially filled with coloured cylindrical rods. Two moving walls on each box will be used to weakly excite the granular gases in microgravity. The footage from two perpendicular video cameras (per box) will be used to analyse the particles’ velocities and interactions between one another. The resulting data should provide insights into the fundamental behaviour of weakly excited granular gases in microgravity.

The fourth 'Drop Your Thesis' campaign is scheduled to take place during autumn 2012. During the preparation of the experiment, the student team will be supported by ESA's Education Office and ZARM engineers.

This opportunity complements other gravity research opportunities offered by ESA’s Education Office, such as 'Fly Your Thesis! - An Astronaut Experience', 'Spin Your Thesis!' and Rocket EXperiments for University Students (REXUS - collaboration with the German Aerospace Center DLR and the Swedish National Space Board SNSB).

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