Busy weeks ahead for high-flying students

This year's Student Parabolic Flight Campaign, organised by ESA's Education Office, will see experiments performed in a variety scientific areas including physics, human biology, material science and robotics, some using objects as diverse as jelly and moths.

Fours flights in two weeks

During the fortnight four parabolic flights will take place. The Airbus A-300, operated on behalf of ESA by the French company Novespace, will take off from Bordeaux-Mrignac airport and fly out high above France's Atlantic coast. Thirty-one parabolas will be performed during each flight, with each parabola providing about 20 seconds of weightlessness. As part of a special science week in Belgium, and to promote ESA's parabolic flight campaigns within the Belgian student community, the first flight of this campaign will take off from Bordeaux and land in Brussels, a first for ESA.

The 32 teams have been divided into two groups, with half flying in the first week and half in the second week. In all over 120 students will participate in the campaign, together representing universities from 15 countries.

Being on board a parabolic flight brings all kinds of new sensations, quite unlike anything experienced on Earth. To help the students concentrate on their experiments during the main campaign flights, they will also fly on a shorter five-parabola familiarisation flight. Throughout this flight the students will be safely buckled into their seats in the front cabin area.

Jelly balls and moths

The students have already had to work hard to get to Bordeaux. After two selection rounds, the students have been working flat out on constructing their experiments since the beginning of April. On this campaign, the students are no less inventive than in previous years.

One team from Germany, will be using balls made of jelly to model planet oscillations. The other teams will be pleased to know that their experi

Contact: Dieter Isakeit
European Space Agency

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