Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Europe goes back to Mars


European space scientists have strongly recommended a mission equipped with a rover as the next scientific mission to Mars as part of the European Space Agency’s [ESA] Aurora programme of planetary exploration. The mission would conduct a detailed analysis of the Martian environment and search for traces of past or present life. A launch in June 2011, followed by a two year journey, would arrive on the Red Planet in June 2013. A detailed proposal will be prepared for consideration by ESA member states at the agency’s Council Meeting at Ministerial Level in December 2005.

The recommendation was made by European scientists at an international space workshop held at Aston University, Birmingham, England on the 6th and 7th April 2005. The ESA workshop, hosted by the UK’s Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council [PPARC], brought together space scientists and agency officials from Europe, Canada, North America and the international space community in order to debate robotic mission options up to 2013 in the first phase of the Aurora programme.

Three candidate missions were considered: BeagleNet, ExoMars and its variant ExoMars-Lite. Consideration was also given to the preparatory activities needed to develop a sustainable, long-term Mars Exploration programme and how efforts to 2011 address the requirements of a Mars Sample Return [MSR] mission within an overall Aurora roadmap.

Following scientific and technology presentations of each candidate mission an evaluation process was undertaken by the scientists measured against key criteria. The outcome and consensus of the workshop recommended a mission which blended key technologies and objectives from each of the candidate missions as the first robotic mission in the Aurora programme. This recommendation will form the basis of a detailed proposal by the scientific community to be considered at the ESA’s Council Meeting at Ministerial Level in December 2005.

The recommended mission will consist of a Soyuz launcher to deliver a probe which includes at least one Rover for scientific exploration of the Martian environment. Telecommunications [data relay] between the probe and Earth will be achieved via NASA orbiting spacecraft. The Rover would be equipped with a suite of scientific instruments designed to search for traces of past or present life on Mars; to characterise the shallow subsurface water/geochemical composition and its vertical distribution profile; and to identify surface and environmental hazards to future human missions.

Taking into account the exciting and scientifically intriguing results from ESA’s Mars Express orbiter the recommended mission will also incorporate instruments to specifically measure seismic phenomena which could be caused by volcanoes, hydrothermal activity or Marsquakes. The Rover will also contain a drill capable of penetrating the surface to a depth of 2m and a Beagle 2 type life marker experiment such as a Gas Analysis Package [GAP] capable of studying stable isotopes in the atmosphere, rocks, and soil. The entry, descent and landing system [EDLS] will utilise key technologies involving airbags and possibly retrorockets. To be launched by a Soyuz Fregat 2b vehicle in June 2011 from ESA’s spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana the probe and Rover would arrive on the surface of Mars in June 2013 after a two year voyage.

Looking beyond 2011 the scientists confirmed their commitment to collaborating in an international Sample Return Mission in 2016 [which would include sample acquisition and handling, mobility and planetary protection], as a logical sequence to the recommended mission in the future roll out of ESA’s Aurora programme.

Commenting on the workshop Prof. Jean Pierre Swings, Chair of ESA’s Exploration Programme Advisory Committee, said,” This workshop has brought an extremely wide range of scientists together from a diverse range of disciplines to recommend what will be a tremendously exciting mission for European space. It builds upon the success of ESA’s Mars Express whilst driving new technologies that will form the foundation for the future development of the Aurora programme”.

In terms of UK involvement Dr. Mark Sims, University of Leicester and Chair of PPARC’s Aurora Advisory Committee was buoyant,” This is a great result for European planetary exploration with significant involvement for the UK. The UK community has worked hard to ensure that the Aurora programme reflects the scientific and industrial expertise we have in the UK and the recommended mission builds upon the heritage of Beagle 2 and Huygens. We look forward to making major contributions to this scientific mission of discovery to the Red Planet”.

Julia Maddock | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1
21.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Hochfrequenzphysik und Radartechnik FHR

nachricht Taming chaos: Calculating probability in complex systems
21.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>