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ESA Parabolic Flights, Drop Tower and Centrifuge Opportunities for University Students


“Fly Your Thesis!—An Astronaut Experience” is an educational programme launched by the ESA Education Office that aims to offer to European students the unique opportunity to design, build, and eventually fly, a scientific experiment as part of their Master or Ph.D. thesis. Selected teams accompany their experiments onboard the Zero-G aircraft for a series of three flights, each consisting of 30 parabolas, with each parabola providing about 20 s of microgravity. ESA Education Office financially supports the flights and part of the hardware development, as well as travel and accommodation for participants. For the first edition of this programme, four student teams were selected to participate in the 51st ESA Microgravity Research Campaign in November 2009. The 2010 edition of the programme was launched in April 2009 and the final selection was announced in January 2010. In parallel, ESA Education Office is setting up two new hands-on activities to provide European university students with access to drop tower (up to 9.3 s of microgravity) and centrifuge (from 1 to 20 times Earth’s gravity) facilities. Through ELGRA, the selected student teams are working in close contact with renowned European scientists working in gravity-related research. This paper will introduce the three new educational programmes and present the selected experiments, as well as give information to students interested in the future editions.


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Correspondence to Natacha Callens.

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Callens, N., Ventura-Traveset, J., de Lophem, TL. et al. ESA Parabolic Flights, Drop Tower and Centrifuge Opportunities for University Students. Microgravity Sci. Technol. 23, 181–189 (2011).

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  • Microgravity
  • Hypergravity
  • Parabolic flight
  • Drop Tower
  • Centrifuge
  • Education