Calling all students and universities

Mars habitat
Student design for Mars habitat
18 February 2003

The European Space Agency (ESA) is looking for innovative, imaginative ideas, concepts and technologies to enhance Europe’s long-term Aurora programme for the robotic and human exploration of the Moon, Mars and asteroids.

Teams of graduate and undergraduate students from universities in Europe and Canada are invited to participate in this exciting programme by entering the Aurora Student Design Competition. Student teams will be expected to work with their professors and supervisors to produce a project relevant to the Aurora programme.

Each University, through its student team, can submit one project in each of the following five categories:

Flagship class missions

These are major missions intended to achieve important technological and scientific goals within the framework of the Aurora programme, such as carrying out a soft landing on a planetary surface or returning a sample from another object back to Earth. They may involve several independent elements, such as orbiters, sub-satellites, landers, rovers, penetrators, airborne robots, planetary ascent vehicles or re-entry vehicles.

Arrow class missions

These are cost-capped, rapid development missions to demonstrate new technologies or mission approaches (e.g. in preparation for more complex Flagship class missions). They might provide engineering or scientific data needed to constrain later mission designs. Arrow missions will also include concepts that exploit opportunities for 'hitchhiker' payloads to be carried on already planned European or international missions.

Human missions

Crewed missions beyond Low Earth Orbit, i.e. to beyond the International Space Station. The mission concepts might involve exploration of the Moon, Mars or asteroids, setting up of exploration-enabling space infrastructure or preparation/training activities required for later, more ambitious missions.

Surface robotics

Lunar vehicles
Student design for lunar vehicles

Robotic systems enabling mobility or interaction of a landed or airborne spacecraft with the surrounding environment. They may include power generation, improved survivability, extension of lifetime and exploration capabilities, alternative locomotion systems, novel resources, such as energy or fuel, management approaches, alternative architecture, non-conventional materials etc.

New enabling technologies

Innovative technological concepts to enable or facilitate robotic and human exploration of the Moon, Mars and asteroids. Some of the key technology areas include power generation, propulsion, atmospheric entry, descent and landing, and communications.

Each team selected to represent its university in the contest is invited to send in an outline of its proposal by 9 March 2003, together with a supporting letter from the university.

Judging of the entries in each category, by a panel of experts, will take place at a special event scheduled to take place in September 2003.

Competition prizes

ESA, together with other sponsors and partners, will be offering prizes for the best projects in each category. The full list of prizes will be announced at a later date. However, first prize for each category is likely to be one of those detailed below or another of comparable importance:

  • a professional visit to the European space centres, including the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana;
  • attendance at the IAF Congress in Vancouver, Canada, at ESA’s expense;
  • sponsorship to present the winning project at suitable conferences and symposia.

Important dates
9 March 2003 - deadline to submit outline of the design project
14 March 2003 - notification of the selected teams
30 July 2003 - deadline to submit the final project
8 – 9 September 2003 - Aurora Academia Workshop, project presentations and prize award The rules for the competition can be seen at: Student design content

Please send project outlines and any queries to:
student4aurora@esa.int

Quick facts  
Name of project Aurora Student Design Competition
Start 9 March 2003
Finish 9 September 2003
Outline deadline 9 March 2003
Final project deadline 30 July 2003
Contact student4aurora@esa.int
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