ESA at the 8th European Mars Society Conference

15 October 2008

The Eighth European Mars Conference (EMC 8) will take place at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, on 17 and 18 October. The theme of the conference is Columbus, Quest for a New World, looking forward to a time when humans will escape the bonds of Earth and venture forth to explore distant worlds.

This year, the EMC will provide an opportunity for European researchers to keep themselves abreast of the main issues regarding research about the Red Planet. Bearing in mind the forthcoming meeting of the European Space Ministers, the programme covers a wide range of topics, including current studies of possible Martian biology and climate, and the practicalities of getting humans to Mars. Among the speakers at this year’s conference are three experts from ESA.

Bernhard Hufenbach, from the ESA Directorate for Human Space Flight will provide a general overview of ESA’s quest for Mars, entitled Future Architecture for Human Exploration.

ESA's Aurora mission will explore the Solar System
Aurora: en route to Mars and the Moon

Since the initiation of the Aurora Programme in 2001, ESA has conducted a series of consultations with various European stakeholder groups to assist the Agency in defining the major themes and objectives for the human exploration of the Solar System. During the last 18 months, ESA has worked alongside industry to develop a realistic architecture which is based on these European themes and objectives. This talk will describe a phased approach to the development and utilisation of this architecture, together with the specific individual elements required.

William Carey, a contractor to the ESA Directorate for Human Space Flight will discuss The Role of the Moon in Preparing for Mars.

During the last half century, humans have demonstrated the capability to leave the Earth and visit its nearest neighbour, the Moon. A permanently inhabited space station has been in orbit around the Earth since the year 2000. Since the inauguration of ESA’s Aurora Programme in 2001 and the US Vision for Space Exploration in 2004, Mars has been identified as the primary destination for humans to visit within the next 30-50 years. However, the initial step in this challenging journey is currently the Moon, and this paper will present the arguments for taking this stepwise approach, rather than aiming straight for Mars.

ESA microgravity expert Vladimir Pletser, accompanied by Pierre-Emmanuel Paulis of the Euro Space Centre, will be speaking about Experiments in a Mars Environment and in Weightlessness.

Conducting experiments in a Martian environment has been possible since 2001, using two research stations built by the Mars Society - the FMARS in the Arctic and the MDRS in the Desert of Utah - in preparation for future human missions to Mars. Research in weightlessness involving microgravity experiments in Earth orbit and aircraft parabolic flights has a lot to contribute to preparations for these long duration flights. Both speakers have experienced the simulated Martian environment and zero g flights and they will present some of the experiments conducted during at the Mars research stations and during parabolic flights.

More information about conference registration and the speakers' programme can be found at:

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