The 45thedition of the Summer School Alpbach will be held from 11 to 20 July 2023. The topic of the 2023 edition is “Exoplanets: Understanding alien worlds in diverse environments”. University students have until 28 February 2023 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.

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

Searching for exoplanetary systems
Searching for exoplanetary systems

Dedicated programmes, including the CoRoT, Kepler and TESS space missions, in tandem with ground based observations enabled the identification of more than 5000 planets outside our solar system, and led to the conclusion that on average every star hosts at least one planet. These alien worlds are incredibly diverse, from large ultra-hot gas giants with ionised atmospheres on the day side and sparkling crystalline clouds on the night side, to Earth-sized rocky bodies orbiting ultra-cool red dwarf stars eroding their atmospheres with high-energy radiation. This plethora of alien worlds poses a challenge to answering the question of whether we are alone in the universe as well as challenging our understanding of how planets form and evolve.

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

Students and trainers using the Concurrent Engineering approach during Post-Alpach Summer School Event 2022
Students and trainers using the Concurrent Engineering approach during Post-Alpach Summer School Event 2022

The Alpbach Summer School is complemented by the Post-Alpbach Summer School Event, taking place from November 20-24 2023 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. 

Students of the Post-Alpbach Summer School Event 2022
Students of the Post-Alpbach Summer School Event 2022

Application deadline for the Alpbach Summer School: 28 February 2023. Apply here.   

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 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.

Source: Auto Draft