Ariadna is a European Space Agency initiative that establishes a link with the European academic community in advanced space technology research. The scope includes any field of the Advanced Concept Team's research where specific knowledge and skills are required and may include, for example, theoretical physics, biomimetics, propulsion, trajectory design and optimisation, informatics and applied mathematics.
Levels of funding vary depending on the type of study, as follows:
- Short study - budget not exceeding €15,000, plus travel allowance.
- Standard study - budget not exceeding €25,000, plus travel allowance.
- Extended study - maximum budget of €35,000, plus travel allowance.
The objectives of the Ariadna scheme are to perform high-level research on advanced topics of shared interest and usually slightly outside the usual ESA and space horizon together with university research groups.
Ariadna deals with research in areas such as:
- Theoretical physics.
- Energy systems.
- Advanced propulsion.
- Mission analysis and design.
- Mathematics and informatics.
- Other subjects in which both space systems engineering competence and specific theoretical knowledge is required.
It is expected that this cooperation will also improve the awareness of the academic community of ESA activities and developments.
The main objectives of the Ariadna scheme are to:
- Perform high-level research and facilitate research partnerships between ESA and investigators in university research groups, while encouraging cooperation between all participants with common interests.
- Provide ESA with a mechanism to enable fast and efficient access to expertise available in the academic community on advanced research topics.
- Increase the awareness of the academic research community of ESA activities, programmes and priorities.
Other entities such as small and medium-sized enterprises are not eligible to submit proposals.
Calls are restricted to universities and research groups within universities. Researchers participating in the Ariadna scheme should be either full-time research staff, postdoctoral research fellows or PhD students.
All other entities, eg SMEs, may only participate on a zero-cost basis.
Study teams should consist of a minimum of two researchers:
- A senior research fellow or professor, having at least five years of postdoctoral research experience and a proven track record in a research field relevant to the study. This person will be the main person responsible for the study.
- A second study team member who must be either a postgraduate doctoral student, or a research fellow with up to five years experience of postdoctoral research.
Both members should demonstrate evidence of scholarly publications relevant to the study.
Other members may also be included in the study team, giving the opportunity to PhD students and postgraduates to participate in Ariadna projects and to partnerships between different research centres.
Ariadna will be implemented through periodical and ad hoc announcements of the following:
- Calls for Proposals: consisting of announcements of specific assessment studies in which the topic of research is already defined by ESA, and for which the need of a short, focused evaluation has been identified.
- Calls for Ideas: a generic Call in priority research areas in which the academic community has the opportunity to propose research studies in one of the Ariadna research categories.
The subjects of the Calls for Proposals are decided by internal ESA experts based on the perceived interest in the academic community, the assessment of their potential benefits for space programmes and the degree of innovation of the proposed work.
Proposals should be submitted in response to Calls for Proposals.
The first step to apply to an Ariadna Call is to register in ESA's system and get a Bidder Code. The online registration system is available on the EMITS interface
The application and all supporting documents should be submitted either in four paper copies, or preferably electronically. The electronic copy must be backed-up by one signed paper copy.
The contracts officer is the only contact point while a Call is open.
Proposal submission templates are available to download from the ESA website - or may be part of the Call package. Use of the templates is strongly recommended.