Applications now open for Alpbach Summer School 2020




The 44thedition of the Summer School Alpbach will be held from 14 to 23 July 2020, the topic of the 2020 edition is “ Comparative Plasma Physics in the Universe”. University students and young graduates have until 31 March 2020 to apply.  

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

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.  

The village of Alpbach

This year, 60 students and young graduates in engineering and science from ESA’s Member, Associate, and Cooperating States will again be selected to participate in the Summer School Alpbach.  

Large parts of the Universe are filled with plasma, a highly ionised form of matter. The plasma environments are always highly dynamic, and can be observed from nearby in the Earth’s magnetosphere out to far away supernovae and active galaxies. Ionised matter is threaded by magnetic fields, producing complex interaction processes and phenomena such as shock waves and charged particles accelerated to high energies. Observations of cosmic plasmas can be made both in situ (in the solar system) and remotely. The participants will be informed about past achievements and current issues, and will be invited to propose ideas for new satellite missions and formulate observational objectives to advance the understanding of the behaviour and the coupling processes of plasma at several astrophysical scales (Earth, Planets, Sun, Across the Universe).

Four student teams will be set up to define the scientific objectives of a space mission and a preliminary end-to-end mission design to further including the spacecraft, scientific instruments, mission and science operations that will meet the stated objective under the supervision of noted scientific and engineering experts. Each student team will conceive and elaborate an innovative satellite mission and present it to an expert review panel on the last day.

Plotting trajectories, solving problems, and embracing Concurrent Engineering!

The participants will be exposed to some real-life challenges, such as long 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.  

The Alpbach Summer School is complemented by the Post-Alpbach Summer School Event, taking place from November 23-27 at the ESA Academy’s Training and Learning Facility at ESEC-Galaxia in Belgium. During this week, students from the Alpbach Summer School extend the design of one of the missions developed during the Summer School using the Concurrent Engineering approach. The participants are divided in small teams to cover the different disciplines of the mission and, guided by two ESA Systems Engineers and a few tutors from the Summer School. The teams iterate on the design of the mission. The mission to be further studied at the ESA Academy’s facility is selected at the end of the Summer School by the Alpbach Summer School Jury and all the students who participated to the Summer School are invited to apply for the Post-Alpbach Summer School Event. 

Application Deadline for the Alpbach Summer School: 31 March 2020 

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, Associate, and Cooperating States. A traditional partner is the International Space Science Institute. It is also supported by Austrospace, the association of Austrian space industries and research institutions. 

The Summer School is open to science and engineering university students and graduates from ESA Member, Associate and Cooperating States*. 

Applicants need to be citizens of one of these states to be eligible for financial support by the relevant national sponsoring agencies and universities. 

For more information, please visit the Summer School Alpbach website and watch’s a student’s experience at the Alpbach Summer School here.

Post-Alpbach 2019 group

*ESA Member States:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom. 

Associate states:
Canada and Slovenia 

Cooperating States:
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia  

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