ESA REXUS/BEXUS call for proposals

20 09 2010

The call for proposed experiments for ESA’s REXUS/BEXUS programme is now open. This competition allows students in participating ESA states to propose and build an experiment to be flown on a sounding rocket or a stratospheric balloon. Successful applicants for the current call will fly their experiments in March 2012. The deadline for the submission of proposals is the 24th October.  More information on the requirements for the proposal can be found at the REXUS/BEXUS website. Irish universities have already participated successfully in the program with DIT due to launch their experiment testing a novel boom deployment system in March next year. Information on their project can be found on their blog.






Alpbach summer school 2010

29 08 2010

Enterprise Ireland currently funds Irish students to participate in the yearly Alpbach summer school. This is an intensive 10 day course with students working taking lectures and workshops on a range of space related topics and working in teams to produce a report on a specific project.

The Irish participants this year were Ian Carter from DIT, James Carton from DCU, Derek Killi from UCD and Enda McLaoughlin from NUI Maynooth. The theme was to develop “New Missions for Understanding Climate Change”.

Ian Carter (DIT), James Carton (DCU), Dilek Killi (UCD), Enda McLaoughlin (NUI Maynooth)

Four teams proposed earth observation mission involving a suite of monitoring satellites to fill in gaps in the current understanding of global climate change. The teams identified high impact missions, designed the satellite sensor technology, picked the required orbital parameters to achieve the required spatial and temporal resolution and established the total cost of the proposed satellite including the build, launch and projected operational life. The four proposed missions along with a brief explanation of their purpose are listed below

Evolution and Radiative Impact Contrails Cirrus (ERICC)

The effect of high altitude jet contrails on climate change is a topic of some debate since contrails are predicted to both reflect incoming solar radiation and trap outgoing heat from the earth. This mission is aimed at gathering sufficient experimental data to accurately determine the impact of contrails on the Earth’s thermal balance.

Dual Retrieval Of Precipitation (DROP)

Climate change is predicted to affect the distribution and intensity of precipitation, decreasing it a low latitudes and increasing it at higher latitudes. This proposed mission was designed to measure precipitation in the mid and high latitudes with high accuracy over wide spatial ranges so that this important indicator of climate change can be quantified.
Atmospheric water Vapour from an Active Limb-sounding Observing Network (AVALON)

While CO2 is often the sole greenhouse gas considered when discussing climate change other constituents also play an important role. This mission will investigate the quantity of water vapor, an important greenhouse gas, in the upper atmosphere. Limb-sounding is a measurement technique whereby a transmitter and a receiver satellite are spaced such that the signal path between them passes through the upper atmosphere. Analyzing the signal attenuation determined the composition of the atmosphere.

CO2 estimation from Biomass burning in tropical regions (VESTA)

When considering the source of CO2 emissions, the typical image that comes to mind is often an industrial power plant or a large traffic jam however biomass burning is a perhaps neglected source of atmospheric CO2, particularly in tropical regions. The Vesta mission is designed to derive data on CO2 emissions by observing the infared radiation emitted by both man-made fires and wild fires in the tropics.

For more detailed information the reports and presentations on each project can be found online. The lectures from this years programme are also available for download and should be a great resource for anybody interested in earth observation and the design of space missions.





ESA Call for reduced gravity experiments

15 08 2010

Having previously announced the student focused Fly Your Thesis Program. ESA are currently looking for researchers in general to propose experiments to be carried out at reduced gravity levels comparable to the lunar and martian surface, 0.16 g and 0.38 g. These experiments will be carried out on an A300 aircraft flying parabolas to simulate the reduced gravity environment. In particular experiments on physical and life sciences are invited. The experiments offer an opportunity to improve our understanding of how humans, small animals, cells and plants are affected by a low gravity environment, and will be of relevance to the future human exploration of the lunar and martian surface. The deadline for applications is 31st August. Further information on how to apply can be found on ESA’s website.





NASA guest speaker at DIT

29 07 2010

The DIT Space Research Group will host a talk by Ms Laurie Peterson of the NASA Johnson Space Center next Wedneday the 4th August. Ms Peterson has worked on a number of projects related to life support systems on both the International Space Station (ISS) and the Crewed Exploration Vehicle (CEV). Ms Peterson’s talk will cover the application of lean 6 sigma project management techniques to past and ongoing NASA projects, including long duration crewed missions. Postgraduate opportunities at NASA will also be discussed. The talk will be held at 2 pm in room 134 in DIT Bolton St.





ESA Young Graduate Trainee Positions

16 06 2010

ESA has announced two new Young Graduate Trainee positions.

  • The first of these involves the recently launched earth observation satellite GOCE and is suited to students interested in working on the engineering subsystems of the satellite particularly the ion propulsion system.
  • The second is for students interested in working on Attitude and Orbital Control Systems (AOCS) and is particularly suited to students with a background in electrical and or software engineering.

The deadline for application is 11 July.

The YGT positions are fantastic opportunities for young students to spend a year at ESA working on world class research projects in the space industry. The internships are aimed at students who have just completed their education in a higher level course. It’s typically recommended for Masters  level students, however with a good CV it’s probably worth a try for those finishing their undergraduate degree.  For more information check out the ESA YGT page. For new opportunities  check Enterprise Ireland’s Space Education page on Facebook.





Falcon 9 launch webcast

4 06 2010

The first launch of the Falcon 9  is scheduled for today. The medium lift rocket is developed by SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk to provide low cost commercial access to space. The launch can be watched live on the web





ESA Fly Your Thesis Programme 2011

7 05 2010

ESA have announced the Fly Your Thesis Programme for 2011. This programme gives university students the opportunity to fly an experiment on a series of parabolic flights.  The flights, which are operated by Novespace from Bordeaux, allow up to 22 seconds of reduced gravity or weightlessness per parabolic arc. This micro-gravity environment offers researchers the chance to investigate a range of phenomena in the absence of gravity. Topics that can be studied include:

  • Fluid physics
  • Chemistry and biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Material sciences
  • Heat transfer
  • Astrophysics

The experiments are limited by safety requirements and are required to be less than 75 kg in mass and take up and area of less than 2  square meters. Previous micro-gravity experiments can be found at the ERASMUS experiment archive. As an initial step, teams are required to write a letter of intent which gives the members of the team and contains an abstract for the proposed experiment. The deadline for the submission of this letter is 12th July. The initial selected proposals will be announced in September. If selected a more detailed scientific proposal  must be written for 24th January 2011. The final selection of teams will take place in March 2011 and the flights will take place in spring 2012.  The campaign will be carried out over two weeks and consist of three flights of 30 parabolas.