Drop Your Thesis! 2018 open for proposals

6 April 2017

Imagine dropping your experiment and watching helplessly as it falls 120 metres to the floor below. Accident? Disaster? Not at all. This is ESA’s Drop Your Thesis! programme and it is all in the name of science.

For the precious seconds it takes for the experiment to fall that distance, the experiment experiences ‘microgravity’ similar to the perpetual free fall of being in orbit. If the experiment can collect data quickly, then dropping it in a specialist facility is a much cheaper option than launching it into space.

The Drop Your Thesis! programme is run by ESA’s Education Office. ESA is looking to sponsor teams of 4 (or more) university students from ESA member states* who have an experiment in mind that requires microgravity. ESA strongly believes in diversity and equal opportunities in the workplace. Student applying to this call should also strive to implement these principles when forming their teams.  The proposals shall also clarify how the student teams intend to cope with a possible turn-over, in order to replace team members who might decide to leave the project.

Details of how to apply can be found on this website but the key step is to showcase the scientific and/or technological objectives of the project. In other words, what the teams intend to investigate and why. Emphasis should also be placed on the technical details that explain how the experiment will be implemented.

Call for proposals for Drop Your Thesis! 2018

STATUS: The call for proposals is OPEN.

DEADLINE: 5 November 2017 23:59 CET.

The chosen experiments will be conducted end of 2018 at the 146m high ZARM Drop Tower Facility in Bremen, Germany. This is one of the most sophisticated research centres of its kind in Europe, and experts from the facility and from ESA will work closely with the selected teams to develop the experiments.

ESA will also fund part of the team’s travel, accommodation and some hardware costs.

Previous Drop Your Thesis!

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STAR team students preparing for a catapult launch in the control roomAccess the image

Previous Drop Your Thesis! experiments have included the STAR team from the University of Padova in Italy. They tested a new tethered probe launch and reel system. The BreakTeam from Queen Mary University London and University of Seville investigated the breakup of colloidal liquids in microgravity.

“[The] Drop Your Thesis! project is really challenging but indeed greatly fulfilling. We learned a lot on how to properly develop a scientific experiment and to work in team. It was a great privilege to have the access to such a facility, working at the ZARM Drop Tower is a pleasure” STAR team members commented, “We strongly recommend to get your chance to Drop Your Thesis! as well!", encouraging future students to participate.

Drop Your Thesis! is just one of the gravity research opportunities offered by ESA’s Education Office.

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Drop Your Thesis! 2016 student teams with ZARM and ESA staffAccess the image

Other programmes include Fly Your Thesis!, Spin Your Thesis!, and Rocket/Balloon EXperiments for University Students – ‘REXUS/BEXUS’.

All are designed to not only provide valuable experimental results but also to give students the experience of working in a professional project environment. This allows them to build their CVs and their professional network, fostering a good start to careers in Europe’s space industry.

'The Drop Your Thesis! programme offers a full package experience for the student teams. Tasks such as financial budgeting, risk assessments, experiment automation, communication with stakeholders and reporting, all equip the students with critical knowledge on how to manage a project at all levels for their impending careers,' says Nigel Savage, programme coordinator for Drop Your Thesis!

For your chance to participate in the programme, visit ‘how to apply’ online. For further information please contact dropyourthesis @ esa.int.

Drop Your Thesis! Access the video

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