This year ESA education has selected two teams to throw their experiment down a 120meter vacuum tube in the name of science. Students from Queen Mary’s Microgravity Team (QMMT Queen Mary University of London, UK) and System for Tether Automatic Retrieval experiment (STAR University of Padova, Italy) will head to Bremen this autumn to participate in ESA’S 8th Drop Your Thesis! campaign.

This programme gives selected university students the opportunity to develop as part of their research programme or Masters / PhD thesis – an experiment to be carried out during a series of 5 launches at the ZARM drop tower in Bremen, Germany, which provides extremely high quality microgravity for periods of up to 9 seconds.

After careful evaluation of the experiment proposals, a review board comprising experts from ESA’s Education Office, ESA’s Human and Robotic Exploration Directorate, ZARM-FABmbH and ELGRA (European Low Gravity Research Association) has selected the two experiments.

QMMT, comprised of two masters students will attempt to investigate the effect of microgravity on the break-up of liquids and formation of droplets. Whilst much research has been performed on this phenomenon using simple liquids, little has been done on colloidal liquids. The project therefore focuses on quantifying the effect of gravity on the rate of thinning of colloidal liquids prior to break-up. More information is available at their Meet the Team page.

STAR team composed of three master students however wish to build and test a new concept of a tether deployer with retrievable capability. Mimicking the fixed spool reel / bail system used in many fishing reels, the team hope to develop a compact, light and reliable system with potential applicability to full-scale space missions. More information is available at their Meet the Team page.

The eighth ‘Drop Your Thesis!’ campaign is scheduled to take place between 10th and 21st October 2016. During the preparation of the experiment, the student team will be supported by ESA’s Education Office ELGRA and ZARM engineers.

This opportunity complements other gravity research opportunities offered by ESA’s Education Office, such as ‘Fly Your Thesis!’, ‘Spin Your Thesis!’ and Rocket EXperiments for University Students/ Balloon Experiments for University Students ‘REXUS/BEXUS’