space dust - Alpach Summer School 2017

Applications open for ‘space dust’ summer school

Students and recent graduates can now apply for one of 60 places on the Alpbach Summer School, to be held this July in the Austrian Alps.

The annual summer school focuses on different topics around space science and technology, providing young scientists and engineers from across Europe the chance to gain new skills and knowledge. 

“The summer school is aimed at students and early graduates from among the member, cooperating and associate countries of the European Space Agency (ESA),” explains director of the Alpbach Summer School Michaela Gitsch, responsible for education and outreach at the Aeronautics and Space Agency of FFG. “We are looking for both science and engineering students.”

The ten-day event, this year entitled ‘Dust in the Universe’, starts on 18 July and will give students the opportunity to learn how space missions have benefited from the understanding of dust. Students will attend lectures on the composition and structure of space dust and the scientific challenges these create, along with presentations that will explain why and how to remotely observe the dust puzzle.

“The aim of the lectures is to present the current knowledge and gaps in our understanding to enable the students to select and formulate objectives for new space missions,” says Gitsch. “The lectures will provide the students with the scientific and technical background needed for defining and elaborating innovative space missions.”

As part of their project, students will need to provide a preliminary end-to-end design of a spacecraft and its scientific instruments, as well as mission and science operations that will meet their stated objectives. They could be challenged with 20-hour working days, and will need to be able to balance scientific objectives and requirements with the realistic constraints of mission design, spacecraft design, and mission cost. 

On the last day of the Summer School, each team will present a short mission study to a panel of experts, with one presentation chosen for further elaboration by 15 selected Summer School students during the Post-Alpbach Summer School event. This takes place in November at the ESA Academy’s Training and Learning Centre in Belgium.

Applications for the Alpbach Summer School are open until 31 March. For further information, visit

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