Aurora technology development activities
Since the beginning of the Aurora Exploration Programme, technology development has played a key role in preparing Europe for exploration missions such as ExoMars, Mars Sample Return and beyond. A dedicated Aurora technology website is now available which gives information on the overall ESA approach to exploration technology development, as well as specific information on the particular activities which have been completed, are ongoing or which are planned.
The site, which is accessible via the 'Aurora Technologies' link on the left-hand menu of the main Aurora page, also gives access to the executive summaries of the activities that have already been completed.
Since 2001 the Aurora Exploration Programme has been engaged in the preparation of a space exploration effort in Europe, focussing in the near-term on automated robotic missions, and considering in the longer-term the possibilities of human exploration. This preparatory effort, soon to reach an important milestone with the ESA Ministerial Council in December, includes as a major component a programme of targeted technology development for exploration.
This development effort has included activities, already completed or nearing completion, to prepare technologies and concepts for missions such as ExoMars, while also engaging in work aimed at tackling key issues for medium-term missions such as Mars Sample Return.
With the growing heritage and experience generated by the Aurora activities, and with new activities already being initiated or in planning, it is important to ensure the results of this work are available and the logic of the overall development effort is as transparent as possible. To this end the Aurora Technology Office has published a web site dedicated to past, ongoing and planned technology development activities relating to exploration.
The website, which can be accessed directly via a link on the main Aurora web page, aims to act as a simple method of providing the main objectives and results of technology work to interested parties such as delegates, industry and academia. In addition to this, the site can also allow the wider public to explore the technology requirements relating to exploration and find out about the development activities aimed at meeting these requirements.
Included in the site's content are first, dedicated pages giving an overview of the key technological challenges involved in the main Aurora missions: ExoMars and Mars Sample Return. The site then also contains sections on the main exploration capabilities such as entry, descent and landing systems, mobility etc. which allow access to descriptions of the specific development activities in each field, and where possible, links to the executive summaries of the final reports of these activities.
It is hoped this resource will allow those involved in exploration development in Europe to obtain a wider and clearer picture of the technology development effort being pursued, and to further improve the coordination and complementary nature of these activities. In addition to this, the site should also improve the public visibility of the exploration effort, and help give information about how the challenges of exploration have been, and are being met.
To access Aurora technologies site, proceed to the Aurora Exploration Programme web page