A new cycle under Gravity



From the 28th of January to the 31st of February 2020, five student groups participating in the Spin, Drop and Fly Your Thesis! 2020 programmes achieved at ESEC-Galaxia in Belgium for the ESA Academy’s Gravity-Related Experiments Coaching Week 2020. 

These students, picked at the end of 2019, were provided with elaborate workshops and lectures. The groups got to know a single yet another and their experiments a bit improved throughout the 7 days, and they learned why so quite a few different study fields require altered gravity in buy to carry out ground breaking science.

What are the 2020 gravity-connected experiments?

The moment again, the pupil experiments picked symbolize the large range in the sciences and systems that need altered gravity environments. 

The programme Fly Your Thesis! 2020 will provide parabolic flights to two groups. The British staff RELOX aims at checking electrolysis effectiveness underneath unique g-concentrations to look into oxygen generation for potential manned space mission, and the German staff AIMIS-FYT intends to create a resin 3D-printing approach centered on UV-curing for space applications. 

The Polish staff Black Spheres picked for Fall Your Thesis! will analyse objects’ non-linear movement in microgravity problems produced in the ZARM Fall Tower. 

On the other aspect of gravity’s scale, the programme Spin your Thesis! is totally connected to biomedical sciences. The Portuguese staff ARTEMIS will review the impacts of hypergravity on the effectiveness of gastro-intestinal permeability and drug shipping whilst the Italian staff TOFU will look into the outcomes of hypergravity on the binding of Tau-proteins to microtubules, attempting to improved understand the mechanisms of health conditions these as Alzheimer.

In buy to aid the groups to attain their formidable goals, a particular recipe was cooked up for this Gravity-Related Experiments Coaching Week.

Step 1 – Initial get hold of with gravity

Presentation of the effect of gravity on the vestibulo-ocular program

Right after an introduction to ESA and its activities, the workshop began with a lecture on the heritage of gravity, from Galileo’s discoveries to ESA potential missions these as LISA, which will watch gravitational waves with a few satellites localised at Lagrange Position L1. Not all the students experienced a space-connected background and this initial glimpse of space activities elevated their fascination: 

“The Fantastic coaching 7 days was a fruitful practical experience! […] Remaining able to be in the Area Agency and get hold of with space connected matters was definitely a special option for us and aroused even more fascination to the space science,” commented a pupil from Artemis.

Right after these an inspiring way to initiate this 7 days devoted to gravity-connected experiments, sensible activities were carried out to display concrete illustrations of gravity in our everyday setting. The students experienced the option to increase their own seeds in a simulated micro-gravity setup to change purely natural gravitropism, watch the effect of gravity on their own vestibular-ocular program and blood force. 

Step two – Glimpse of suggestions from the platforms’ industry experts

The Black Spheres Group getting advices from ZARM Fall Tower industry experts

No a single is improved able to train the students how to structure experiments for unique platforms than the platform industry experts. As a result, engineers and scientists doing the job for the Substantial Centrifuge Diameter (ESTEC, The Netherlands), the Zero-G A-310 (Novespace, France) and the Bremen Fall Tower (ZARM, Germany) were invited to existing their amenities and fulfill the groups. This key get hold of sealed the initial of various impending conferences as the students will also be in immediate get hold of with these industry experts throughout the improvement of their experiment.  

These face-to-face conferences enabled the groups to improved frame their objectives and make early discoveries of the principal complex worries of their experiments. The periods with the industry experts paid off, as students from Black Spheres and AIMIS-FYT remarked.  

“All the lectures, coaching periods and time with engineers were definitely very well personalized to aid define the challenge properly”.

“The industry experts shared a ton of beneficial information in a pretty successful way, which will aid us a ton in the impending improvement process”. 

In addition, former students who participated in past year’s programmes delivered presentations on their own activities, as a result providing valuable classes-learned on the worries the new groups will face. 

Step three – A touch of hands-on

Miniature robotic making use of automation to roll on a Martian-like floor

The improvement of an experiment established-up, irrespective of whether for parabolic flight, fall tower or centrifuge, also needs at minimum standard engineering expertise. Consequently, interactive workshops on program engineering, 3D structure and automation were delivered in buy to aid the students further more create their capabilities.  

The goal of the program engineering workshop was to provide the students with adequate expertise on setting requirements to their experiments in accordance with ECSS specifications, concepts that most students encountered for the initial-time past 7 days but are at the coronary heart of all space-connected initiatives.

In buy to obtain expertise important for the structure of their components, 50 % of the students attended a workshop on SolidWorks, in which they were taught the principal principles of Computer system-Aided Layout. Eventually, as for some platforms it will not be achievable to manually function the experiments throughout their execution, an automation workshop permitted students to understand how to apply automation procedures in experiments.

Step 4 – The closing hint of organisation

Léopold Eyharts, French astronaut, providing a lecture about the ISS

For most students, participating in a hands-on gravity-connected challenge features them a initial face to a massive challenge involving quite a few stakeholders and exterior partners. Subjects these as challenge and risk administration, finances, documentation, conversation and outreach were discussed in excellent length. In particular in moments of force and worry, these factors are normally neglected, when in fact they are critical for good challenge completion. The concept was very well received by the staff: “The lectures about how to manage associations with stakeholders and the preparatory get the job done in advance of the campaign were essential”, reported a single pupil from staff TOFU. Mentioned yet another, “The coaching 7 days gave us the option to receive expertise about how to manage our challenge efficiently. In unique, what I definitely appreciated was the component devoted to challenge conversation due to the fact presently it is pretty tricky to sensitize people today about scientific study”.  

The intensive 7 days finished with an engaging lecture by the French ESA astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who flew 2 times, to MIR and the ISS. 

Now that the workshop is around, the groups are again house, inspired to pursue the improvement of their experiment. Besides planning the staff for the 12 months in advance, the workshop was also important from an unique point of perspective, as summarised by yet another pupil from TOFU: “This practical experience will be a single of the most critical in my qualified and scientific improvement. I’ve discovered and obtained loads of tools about thinking, projecting and utilizing study, all of which will be determinant in my potential job.”

Keep tuned for more information on these remarkable initiatives!