Students invited to 'drop' their experiments

Interior of the drop tower
4 October 2011

ESA’s Education Office offers university students the opportunity to perform experiments in microgravity, using the ZARM drop tower in Bremen, Germany.

The 'Drop Your Thesis!' 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 5 launches at the Bremen site.

The ZARM facility is one of the best of its type in Europe and attracts scientists from around the world. It features a 146 m high tower surrounded by numerous support facilities and laboratories. The experiment payload is integrated into a capsule which is allowed to fall freely, attaining microgravity levels as low as 10-6 g for up to 9.3 s. The level of microgravity is better than that achieved in parabolic flights, or even on orbital platforms (e.g. the International Space Station). In addition, drop towers are extremely versatile and allow the experiment set-up to be adjusted between consecutive launches.

Hands-on experience for the BubJet team

Interested teams from ESA Member States should register on the ESA Education Office's project portal and upload their completed application, by 13 February 2012. Proposals from ESA’s Cooperating States are also encouraged.

The proposals received will be evaluated by a review board, which will select the winning team. This team will perform its experiment during ESA’s fourth Drop your Thesis! campaign, to be held in Bremen for three weeks during the autumn of 2012.

The team selected to participate in the 'Drop Your Thesis!' programme will be supported by ESA’s Education Office, ZARM engineers and members of the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA). ESA will offer financial support to cover part of the cost of the experiments, travel and accommodation.

Drop Your Thesis! experiments

In the previous campaigns, student teams studied the polymerisation of different types of Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystals and the collision of bubble jets in microgravity conditions.

The winning team of Drop Your Thesis! 2011 will visit the ZARM Drop Tower in November 2011 where they will conduct an experiment investigating the production and release of nitric oxide from plant roots while in microgravity.

For more information please contact the Drop Your Thesis! team: dropyourthesis @ esa.int.

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