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Applications now open for Alpbach Summer School

on 17 February 2016

This year’s edition of the Alpbach Summer School will be held from 12 to 21 July, and will focus on “Satellite Observations of the Global Water Cycle". University students have until 31 March 2016 to apply.

Held annually since 1975 in the beautiful Austrian Alps, the Alpbach Summer School enjoys a long tradition in providing in-depth teaching on different topics of space science and technology, with the aim of advancing the training and working experience of European graduates, post-graduates, young scientists, and engineers.

The purpose of the Summer School is to foster the practical application of knowledge derived from lectures, to develop organisational and group skills, and to encourage creativity. Teams will compete to design the best project and will be judged by an independent jury of experts.

This year 60 students and graduates in engineering and science from ESA’s Member and Cooperating states* will be selected to participate in the 40th edition of the Alpbach Summer School.

For ten days, participants will attend stimulating lectures on various aspects of space science and technology, and will work intensely to define and design a space mission, all under the supervision of noted scientific and engineering experts within the field.

Students will be split into 4 teams. Each team will design a space mission aimed at improving the observation of critical elements of the water cycle in order to close gaps in understanding the processes, and to advance the representation of the water cycle in Earth system models.

Student teams will elaborate the scientific objectives of a space mission and will provide a preliminary end-to-end design of a spacecraft, scientific instruments, as well as mission and science operations that will meet their stated objectives.

On the last day of the Summer School, each team will present a short mission study to a panel of experts, as well as to all the other teams, tutors and lecturers.

The selected Summer School students will be exposed to some real-life challenges, such as 20-hour working days (before proposal submission) and an expectation that they are able to immediately apply knowledge and techniques that they have only recently been exposed to. They will also have to handle the trials of establishing and maintaining an international and multi-disciplinary team composed of both scientists and engineers. They will need to balance scientific objectives and requirements with the realistic constraints of mission design, spacecraft design, and mission cost. Study designs presented on the last day may be chosen by ESA for further studies.

The Alpbach Summer School is open for application to students and graduates from ESA Member and Cooperating states. The working language will be English.

Application Deadline: 31 March 2016

Online Application:

The Alpbach Summer School is organised by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG). It is co-sponsored by ESA and the national space authorities of its Member and Cooperating States. A traditional partner is the International Space Science Institute (ISSI). It is also supported by Austrospace, the association of Austrian space industries and research institutions.

* ESA Member States in 2015
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Canada (Associate Member)

European Cooperating States
Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia

Cooperating States
Cyprus, Malta

Image credit: ESA/AOES Medialab