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A Space Experiment in the Austrian Alps

Summer School Alpbach 2016 took place between July 12 and 21 and 58 students from 18 member countries of the European Space Agency (ESA). António Cabaços, from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), Diogo Paraíso, from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) and Jorge Monteiro, from the University of Beira Interior (UBI), were the Portuguese students selected to be part of the Alpbach experience.

The theme of the 40th edition of the Alpbach Summer School was the Global Water Cycle. Under the premise that "the presence of water on planet Earth, whether in liquid or solid state, is one of the defining characteristics and an absolute prerequisite for the existence of Life", students were challenged to design and plan innovative satellite missions that would contribute to the observation of the critical elements of the water cycle.

Grouped into four teams, Green, Red, Orange, and Blue, the participants were able to develop their ideas under the guidance of experienced researchers and engineers in the fields of space science and technology.

Diogo Paraíso, IST student, was part of the Green Team named WAVE-E - Water Vapour European-Explorer. The presentation of a satellite mission for a more accurate prediction of atmospheric phenomena and climate change was distinguished with the "Science" and "Best Presentation" awards.

The Orange team, entitled SWEAT - Snow Water Equivalent with AlTimetry, led by Jorge Monteiro from UBI, presented a model to measure the amount of ice present in the sea and on land in the polar regions with the aim of contributing to the understanding of the influence of the water cycle in the Earth's energy balance. This work deserved the "Competitiveness" award.

The Red team, CoastSat of FEUP student António Cabaços was also distinguished with a "Special Oscar". The satellite mission entitled "Measuring Water Quality in Coastal Regions using remote sensing" proposes a solution to measure the water quality of coastal regions, rivers and lakes. "Keep the oceans clean!" was the motto that impressed the jury.

For 10 days the participants of the Alpbach program lived a unique experience of learning and socializing with great experts in space science and technology. They had the opportunity to work as a team in a scientific context and also to make friends with people of different nationalities.

The Alpbach Summer School is a summer school in Space Science for undergraduate students in the exact sciences and engineering. It is organized by the Austrian Aeronautics and Space Agency and sponsored by ESA, as well as by national authorities of ESA member and partner countries. One of the partners of the Alpbach summer program is the International Space Science Institute (ISSI).

Portugal is a member of ESA since 2000. The Foundation for Science and Technology is, through the Office of Space, the national entity that promotes the activities of the Portuguese Delegation, promoting the participation of national companies and institutes of I&DT in ESA space programs, including programs implemented under the ESA-European Union Framework Agreement.

Image credit: MA Jakob(2016 Alpbach Summer School participants) |