Winner for the 1st cycle:
The Team from Mahidol University, Thailand
Title of the winning project:
Watermeal, the Future Food Source for Space Exploration
Objectives of the winning project:
The experiment is to study effect of hypergravity on watermeal, the smallest and fastest growing flowering plant on Earth. It would help unlock a lot of possibility for future application of the plant as a food and oxygen source for space exploration and on other planet which may have higher gravity than on Earth.
Dr. Tatpong Tulyananda, Head of the winning team, said: "This is a great opportunity and a big step for the space biology research program in Thailand. We are very excited to explore how aquatic plants perform in a hypergravity environment, which might answer questions for future space exploration".
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is pleased to announce the "United Nations /European Space Agency Fellowship Programme on the Large Diameter Centrifuge Hypergravity Experiment Series (HyperGES)" as part of the UNOOSA's "Access to Space for All" Initiative and in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) as part of ESA. The fellowship programme is aimed at providing opportunities for scientists and researchers with a team of students from Member States of the United Nations with particular attention to developing countries to conduct their own hypergravity experiment series at the Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC) facility located at ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.
The HyperGES is being supported by ESA, hosted by the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) as part of ESA, executed by UNOOSA, and implemented through strong collaboration among UNOOSA, ESA, ESTEC, potential applicants and their organizations from Member States of the United Nations.
One selected team in each cycle will spend one to two weeks at the ESA's largest centre, ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, to conduct on-site experiment integration and perform hypergravity experiment series on the Large Diameter Centrifuge facility, which allows samples to be exposed to acceleration forces of 1-20 times Earth's gravity. The required actual duration for the selected team to stay in Noordwijk depends on the complexity of the experiment, the proposed experiment schedule, and the negotiation with ESTEC experts.
In one cycle, approximately one year following the deadline of applications is necessary for selection, preparation and implementation.
Completed application forms must be submitted to UNOOSA by the deadline, via email to Mr. Aimin Niu ( firstname.lastname@example.org), Programme Officer at UNOOSA. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their applications after selection.
Heads of research institutions or groups, who are university/institution professors or postdoctoral researchers, with a team of Bachelor, Master and/or PhD students.
One academic supervisor (Team Leader - Prof./PhD) with several students, who are all from Member States of the United Nations with particular attention to developing countries. However, only up to four team members, including supervisor, can be funded by UNOOSA and ESTEC, in which case the supervisor shall indicate the names of four team members to be funded in their application forms.
In order to further understand and describe the influence of gravity in systems, the LDC facility has been developed by ESA allowing the acquisition of a broad gravity spectrum in the range from 1g to 20 g (where g is the gravitational acceleration at the surface of the Earth). It is part of the Life and Physical Sciences Instrumentation and Life Support Laboratory (LIS) at ESTEC, dedicated to serve the science and technology user communities throughout Europe, and now open to all Member States of the United Nations through this fellowship programme.
The diameter of the LDC is eight metres. The LDC has four arms, each of which can support two gondolas with a maximum payload of 80 kg per gondola. In practice, however, up to six gondolas can be used for an experiment plus one additional gondola in the centre for control or reference purposes. The hypergravity field inside the gondolas is simulated by the centripetal forces due to rotation. The LDC facility can provide a hypergravity environment for cells, plants, small animals, physical science and technological experiments. In particular, biology, biochemistry, microbiology, optical physics, material sciences, fluid dynamics, geology and plasma physics investigations can be undertaken in this facility. The LDC is flexible in terms of experiment scenarios, duration and possible equipment to use. This means that the system is able to execute and manage experiments that last from one minute up to six months, without stopping.
The HyperGES fellowship programme is contributing to the promotion of space education and research in hypergravity around the world, particularly for the enhancement of relevant capacity-building activities in developing countries.
The HyperGES fellowship programme is open to research teams from entities that are located in Member States of the United Nations with particular attention to developing countries. Each team should consist of one academic supervisor (Team Leader - Prof./PhD, not a student), and several Bachelor, Master and/or PhD students.
It is further required that the proposed experiment be an integral part of the students' syllabuses, that is, part of a Bachelor thesis, a Master thesis, a PhD thesis, or another form of research project associated with the applicants' studies at their respective universities.
The final number of team members who will participate in the experiment on site at the LDC facility depends strictly on the requirements of the experiment and is subject to approval by the Selection Board of the HyperGES Fellowship Programme. The Board reserves the right to change or limit the team size if considered necessary.
Changes to the composition of the team are NOT allowed once the application has been submitted. If, for exceptional reasons, changes are absolutely necessary, they will be subject to the approval of the Selection Board. Priority will be given to teams that have not previously participated in an experiment at the LDC facility and/or research projects that have never been conducted at the LDC facility.
The applying academic supervisors (Team Leader) will supervise the work of the students. This person must belong to the same entity as at least one of the students and will be expected to endorse the entire application (including the experiment proposal and team composition) by signing the application form, take care of development process of the team, and bear responsibility for the execution of the experiment.
In addition to the endorsement of the application form by the Team Leader, each Team Member (Team Leader and each student) must be able to show that they have their respective institutions' support through a Letter of Endorsement from their respective institutions. When seeking the Letter of Endorsement, the complete application forms should be presented to their institutions. Team Members belonging to same institution may provide one Letter of Endorsement from that institution.
The Selection Board will consist of members nominated by UNOOSA and ESA. The Board will assess all applications against the following criteria: 1) The scientific and/or technological value of the proposed experiment, 2) The relevance of hypergravity in the proposed experiment, 3) The relevance of the LDC utilisation in the proposed experiment, 4) The general feasibility of the proposed experimental setup and procedure, 5) The involvement of the proposed experiment in the students' syllabuses, 6) The organisation realising the planned research project, 7) The availability of financial resources to support development, preparation, transportation, and shipping experiment, and 8) The overall presentation of the experiment proposal.
The entire selection process will be performed in a single step, and the results will be announced by UNOOSA.
Applicants are required to refer to the following documents while preparing their applications and experiments:
1) LDC main features summary
The main features of the LDC is summarized for easy reference, which is accessible and downloadable from ESA's website at:
2) LDC Experimenter User Manual
In order to well propose an experiment and facilitate its preparation, it is necessary for applicants to refer to the LDC Experimenter User Manual, which addresses the general features, operations, technical details and technical data of the LDC, and can be accessible and downloadable from ESA's website at:
3) Technical constraints
While defining their projects, applicants are advised to keep in mind some technical constrains that apply to their experiments, which can be accessible and downloadable from ESA's website at:
4) Examples of past experiments
The past experiments performed in the LDC facility could help applicants propose their own experiments:
UNOOSA offers, in each cycle, one selected research team an opportunity to conduct their proposed hypergravity experiment series at different pre-defined g-levels at the ESTEC/LDC facility for two weeks, including on-site experiment integration prior to the actual execution of the experiment series at the facility.
One cycle of the fellowship programme comprises the following phases: application, selection, preparation, experiment execution, and reporting. In addition, the selected research team is encouraged to publish their experiment results. In general, one cycle lasts around one year after the deadline of applications and before publication of experiment results.
Application phase (from announcement of opportunity to application deadline):
S election phase (within 3 months):
Preparation phase (within 7 months):
Experiment phase (within 2 weeks):
Reporting phase (within 2 months):
1) International air tickets
UNOOSA will offer the selected research team financial support exclusively for travel purposes. This may include the provision of the necessary administrative arrangements and defraying the cost of most economical economy class round-trip air tickets, in accordance with the United Nations rules and procedures, for up to four team members between their international airports of departure and Amsterdam (close to Noordwijk), the Netherlands. En-route expenses or any changes made to the air tickets must be the responsibility of the participants.
2) T echnical support and local accommodation
ESA/ESTEC will offer local hotel rooms and meals free of charge for up to four members of the selected research team in each cycle during their stay in Noordwijk, the Netherlands for the on-site integration and experiment series.
ESA/ESTEC will be in charge of and operate the LDC facility itself and support the LDC experiments including their preparation and on-site integration. In addition, ESA/ESTEC will provide scientific and technical consulting, service and support to the selected team for smoothly completing the experiment cycle.
3) Experiment preparation and other costs
The selected research team will bear the expenses for the experiment development, preparation, transportation and shipping as well as insurance of the experiment. Funding to cover these costs must be obtained by the selected team, through private means or through national or international institutions. Applicants and their respective entities are therefore strongly encouraged to find additional sources of sponsorship.
The fully completed application form, both in PDF format (.pdf) and in MS WORD (.doc), together with the Letter of Endorsements in PDF format, should be emailed to the above designated Programme Officer from UNOOSA, by no later than the submission deadline requested in Section 6 of this document.
The Selection Board will then proceed to evaluate each submission. At the Selection Board's sole discretion, additional information may be requested from applicants, if necessary, to assist in the evaluation of an application. Selected applicants will then be notified with the results of the selection process. All awards are final and not subject to challenge or review.
Nothing in or relating to this Announcement of Opportunity shall be deemed a waiver, express or implied, of any of the privileges and immunities of the United Nations, including its subsidiary organs.
The latest information on the ground-based experiments, including the HyperGES Fellowship Programme, is available here.
The information on "Access to Space for All" initiative is available here.
For further information regarding the Fellowship Programme and applications, please contact Mr. Aimin Niu at: email@example.com