by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Oct 31, 2012
For three days last week, student teams had the opportunity to run their experiments in near-weightlessness aboard Novespace's Airbus A300 Zero-G aircraft as it followed a series of parabolas.
As part of the Fly Your Thesis! project, three student groups flew along with nine professional teams in the 57th ESA parabolic flight campaign, investigating effects that are virtually impossible to study on the ground under the normal pull of gravity.
This year's educational venture gave students invaluable experience in how to design, build and perform experiments in microgravity.
The Hydronauts2Fly team studied how the posture of a relaxed person changes in microgravity. Cameras recorded the limb positions of a floating volunteer to improve the layout of future space stations and help design better spacesuits. The information could also be useful for ergonomic applications on Earth.
The LINVforROS Corn experiment studied variations in reactive molecules containing oxygen produced by maize plants as they were subjected to the different g-forces during the flights.
The Dustbrothers team investigated the levitation of highly porous sintered glass plates due to the 'Knudsen compressor effect'.
This poorly understood effect is thought to be important in the early phases of planet formation, where it is possible that it is at least partially responsible for the movement of dust away from the star in a protoplanetary disc of matter.
All three teams must now analyse their data and the results will form part of their Masters theses, PhD theses or research programmes.
"My thanks to ESA Education and the Novespace team for this great opportunity," says Emanuela Monetti, from the LINVforROS team.
"This experience was for me one of the best in my life."
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