Joint Summer School: ESA and FAIR offer high-quality training for cosmic radiation research


A high-quality training offer, an international surrounding, and a unique expertise: The "ESA FAIR Radiation Summer School 2023" has become a constant and has attracted large attention from the international community. Currently 15 young researchers from ten countries are coming together for the “ESA-FAIR Radiation Summer School 2023” to deal intensively with the topic of cosmic radiation.  The Summer School for radiation research was jointly established by the European Space Agency ESA and the international accelerator center FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research GmbH), currently being built at GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung.

The Summer School is held both at ESA´s European Space Operations Center ESOC and on the GSI/FAIR campus in Darmstadt. The aim is to train students in basic heavy ion biophysics for space applications, e.g. space radiation detection, monitoring and protection. Exploring cosmic radiation and their effects on humans, electronics and materials is a decisive contribution to the future of human spaceflight, so that astronauts and satellites in space are provided with the best protection during the exploration of our solar system. Furthermore, it also contributes to detailed knowledge about the risks of radiation exposure on Earth.

The Summer School’s top-class scientific program, opened by Wim Sillekens, ESA Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration programs, and Professor Marco Durante, Head of the GSI Department of Biophysics, includes lectures from experts such as former astronaut Thomas Reiter and former ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Wörner, visits to facilities in Darmstadt and practical training and research opportunities at GSI/FAIR. Participants switch between the two locations ESOC and GSI/FAIR campus. In the second week, they are welcomed at GSI/FAIR by Professor Paolo Giubellino, Scientific Managing Director of GSI and FAIR. Dr. Radek Pleskac gives an insight into the FAIR project. At GSI and FAIR, the participants have the opportunity to work in teams on laboratory activities and to learn more about the research fields of radiation biology and simulation of cosmic radiation in accelerators.

The young researchers have the possibility to continue developing and building on their own experiment ideas via formulation and submission of a ground-based space radiation experiment proposal for example in the context of the investigations into biological effects of radiation (IBER program). IBER enables groups of researchers to use the GSI accelerator facilities to study the biological effects of cosmic radiation. At the end of the ESA-FAIR Radiation Summer School, participants will take written exams or carry out team work, which will be evaluated and rated by the lecturers.

The establishment of the Summer School is a result of the close cooperation between ESA and FAIR for many years on cosmic radiation research and one of more common topics in the GSI/FAIR-ESA cooperation agreement. The existing GSI accelerator facility is the only one in Europe that can generate all of the ion beams occurring in our solar system, which range from hydrogen, the lightest one, to uranium, the heaviest. At the future FAIR accelerator center, the possibilities will be significantly expanded: FAIR will allow experiments with an even wider range of particle energies and intensities and will be able to simulate the composition of the cosmic radiation even more accurately. The neighborhood of ESA’s Space Operations Center in Darmstadt also creates ideal conditions for local cooperation in one of the decisive research fields of the future. (BP)

Further information

ESA-FAIR Radiation Summer School