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Fly Your Thesis! programme phases

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ESA / Education / Fly Your Thesis!

Below is a detailed description of the FYT! programme and its schedule. It is intended to give transparency on what the programme entails and what is expected of the teams. 

A.1 Project definition and writing of the proposal for all applicants

During this phase, the applicants will identify the members of their team, find an endorsing professor/academic supervisor and start to think about their project. 

After defining their project, the students must think about how their experiment will be realised. At the end of this process they are expected to have a very accurate knowledge of the scientific background of their project as well as a good understanding of how they will realise their experiment – in both a qualitative and quantitative way.

The experiment proposal should focus on the scientific and/or technology-related objectives of the project and on the technical details for the implementation of the experiment. In other words, participants are invited to explain what they intend to investigate and how they are going to implement their experiment. Students should show that they have very good knowledge of their project’s topic using references to bibliography and scientific literature in the field and giving the details of the results expected.

Documents expected: Experiment proposal and letter of endorsement

A.2 Review of experiment proposal and shortlisting of teams

The ESA Education Office will shortlist the top teams who have met all the eligibility criteria, have demonstrated appropriate background knowledge of the science and whose experiments are suitable for the parabolic flight platform.

B.1 Updating the experiment proposal and writing of the experiment safety data package by selected applicants

Students will 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.

Documents expected:   Experiment Safety Data Package (ESDP) v1 

B.2  Selection Workshop at ESA/ESTEC

Teams will be invited to a selection workshop at ESTEC. During this workshop, the teams will present their projects to a Review Board composed of experts from ESA Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration Directorate, ESA Education Office, ELGRA and Novespace.

Novespace will provide a review based on safety and feasibility of all  the ESDPs submitted by the teams. Based on the evaluation of the experiment proposals and the review of the experiment safety data package, the Review Board will selecthe best experiments to fly on the Parabolic Flight Campaign. 

C. Experiment preparation

Based on the experiment proposal, the ESDP and the Review Board feedback, the selected teams will improve their design and start writing their experiment report. Their endorsing professors and ELGRA mentors (if applicable) will focus on the scientific aspects of these improvements. An engineer from Novespace will review the preparation and the design of the experimental set-up and procedure. After the teams received the go-ahead from ESA and Novespace experts, the teams will start to implement and build their experiment rack, with the support of qualified professionals. The building costs will be partly supported by ESA Education Office.

Documents expected: Experiment report, ESDP. Several iterations will be delivered to ESA Education Office and Novespace experts before the campaign. 

D. Parabolic flights campaign

Selected teams will fly during an ESA’s Microgravity Research Campaign in autumn. 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.

A few weeks after the campaign, the teams must deliver a feedback report with their inputs, as well as their opinion about the programme and campaign to ESA Education Office. 

Documents expected: Feedback report. Several weeks after the campaign. 

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 Education Office with a final version of their experiment report, including all the relevant information, results and conclusions from the investigation

Documents expected: Final version of the experiment report. Four months after the campaign. 

Whilst every effort is undertaken by ESA and associated partners to avoid such circumstances, the Fly Your Thesis! programme may be cancelled, delayed, postponed for any number of reasons. Participating teams will be notified immediately if such circumstances arise. Publishing this announcement of opportunity and progressing through the selection process does not guarantee a flight opportunity.