Related press releases
ESA Invites European Educators to Come Up with Ideas of the ISS to illustrate to Students the Effects of Weightlessness :: 18 February, 2008
With Europe's Columbus laboratory safely attached to the International Space Station, this is a good time to come up with new ideas for experiments that can be carried out onboard the station to demonstrate the effects of weightlessness to young students.
The International Space Station (ISS), the largest international space project of all time, orbits the Earth at an altitude of 400 km where the effects of the Earth’s gravitational field are effectively removed. This provides a unique location in which to carry out experiments in a weightless environment.
ESA invites European educators to come up with ideas that use this unique aspect of the ISS to illustrate to students the effects of weightlessness. Participation is open to primary and secondary school teachers, and to educators such as those involved in science education at a museum, a teacher training college or an educational organisation.
Call for Education Ideas
Proposals should be written in English and describe a scientific demonstration that behaves differently in the weightless environment of the ISS than on Earth. Entries should clearly identify the objectives, the expected results and the materials required to carry out the experiment, and should be designed for either primary or secondary level students.
To participate in the Call for Education Ideas entries should be submitted in English using the downloadable application form (linked on the right) and arrive at ESA by 30 May 2008. ESA regrets that entries can only be accepted from participants who are a national of one or more ESA Member State, i.e. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Prize for best proposals
A team of ESA experts will select the 20 best proposals and the top ten entries will be announced on this website on 16 June 2008. Each of the ten will receive €500, a package of ESA education material and a kit to make a scale model of the ISS. In recognition of their effort, the ten runners up will also be sent a scale model ISS kit.
In July work will commence on preparing some of the best experiments for flight to the ISS where an ESA astronaut will carry out the experiments. Students across Europe will be given a unique opportunity to witness the 'classroom in space', and hopefully to perform simultaneously the experiment in their own classroom.
Proposals will be assessed using the following criteria:
relevance to weightlessness: the experiment should be a powerful illustration of the nature or effect of weightlessness
relevance to the curriculum: the topic should be relevant to the school curriculum
interdisciplinary: topics that relate to more than one discipline will be an asset
originality: proposals should show an original and novel approach to teaching
technical implementation: delivery to the ISS imposes limitations on mass and weight (no more than 2 kg) and it must be technically possible to carry out the experiment onboard the ISS
In addition, preference will be given to experiments that can be performed both onboard the ISS and in the classroom, as this is a very successful way to illustrate the effect of weightlessness.
Note for Columbus Laboratory
Columbus is a science laboratory that is part of the International Space Station (ISS). It is the largest single contribution to the ISS made by the European Space Agency (ESA). Like the Harmony Module, the Columbus laboratory was constructed in Turin, Italy by Rome based Alcatel Alenia Space. The lab was then integrated in Germany by EADS before being flown to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida in an Airbus Beluga. It was launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on February 7, 2008 on flight STS-122. It is designed for ten years of operation. The module is controlled by the Columbus Control Centre, located at the German Space Operations Centre, part of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich, Germany. The European Space Agency has spent €1.4 billion (about $2 billion) on building Columbus, including the experiments that will fly in it and the ground control infrastructure necessary to operate them.
The laboratory is a cylindrical module with two end cones. It is approximately 4.6 m (15 ft) in diameter and 7 m (23 ft) long. Its shape is very similar to that of the Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules, since both were designed to fit in the cargo bay of a Space Shuttle orbiter. The starboard end cone contains most of the laboratory's on-board computers. The port end cone contains the Common Berthing Mechanism.
ESA chose EADS Astrium Space Transportation as prime contractor for Columbus. The Columbus flight structure, the micro-meteorite protection system, the active and passive thermal control, the environmental control, the harness and all the related ground support equipment were designed and qualified by Alcatel Alenia Space in Turin, Italy as defined by the PICA - Principle (for definition see History below); the related hardware was pre-integrated and sent as PICA in September 2001 to Bremen. The lab was then fully integrated and qualified on system level at the EADS Astrium Space Transportation facilities in Bremen, Germany.
Note for International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is a research facility currently being assembled in space. The on-orbit assembly of ISS began in 1998. The space station is in a low Earth orbit and can be seen from Earth with the naked eye: it has an altitude of 350-460 km (189-248 statute miles) above the surface of the Earth, and travels at an average speed of 27,700 km (17,210 statute miles) per hour, completing 15.77 orbits per day. The ISS is a joint project among the space agencies of the United States (NASA), Russia (RKA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and several European countries (ESA).
The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB, Brazil) participates through a separate contract with NASA. The Italian Space Agency similarly has separate contracts for various activities not done in the framework of ESA's ISS works (where Italy also fully participates). China has reportedly expressed interest in the project, especially if it is able to work with the RKA. The Chinese are not currently involved, however.
The ISS is a continuation of what began as the U.S. Space Station Freedom, the funding for which was cut back severely. It represents a merger of Freedom with several other previously planned space stations: Russia's Mir 2, the planned European Columbus and Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module. The projected completion date is 2010, with the station remaining in operation until around 2016. As of 2008, the ISS is already larger than any previous space station.
The ISS has been continuously inhabited since the first resident crew entered the station on November 2, 2000, thereby providing a permanent human presence in space. The crew of Expedition 16 are currently aboard. The station is serviced primarily by Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft and by U.S. Space Shuttle orbiters. At present the station has a capacity for a crew of three. Early crew members all came from the Russian and U.S. space programs. German ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter joined the Expedition 13 crew in July 2006, becoming the first crew member from another space agency. The station has, however, been visited by astronauts from 15 countries. The ISS was also the destination of the first five space tourists.
In figure 2, The International Space Station as seen from the approaching Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-122
In figure 3, Pedro Duque demonstrates Newtons' laws
In figure 4, The Columbus Module attached to the International Space Station
In figure 5, Columbus at Kennedy Space Center