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Fwd = Lift Off for Aurora: Europe's First Steps to Mars, the Moon and Beyond

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  • Frits Westra
    Forwarded by: fwestra@hetnet.nl (Frits Westra) Originally from: baalke@jpl.nasa.gov Original Subject: Lift Off for Aurora: Europe s First Steps to Mars,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 12, 2002
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      Forwarded by: fwestra@... (Frits Westra)
      Originally from: baalke@...
      Original Subject: Lift Off for Aurora: Europe's First Steps to Mars, the Moon and Beyond
      Original Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2002 08:46:47 -0700 (PDT)

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      Lift Off for Aurora: Europe's First Steps to Mars, the Moon and Beyond
      European Space Agency
      Paris, 10 October 2002
      Press Release
      N\260 64-2002

      Step by step, the European Space Agency's new Aurora space exploration
      programme is beginning to take shape. This ambitious programme, started by
      ESA in January 2002, sets out a strategy over the next 30 years for
      Europe's robotic and human exploration of Mars, the Moon, and even beyond
      to the asteroids.

      On Monday 7 October, the Aurora Board of Participants met at ESA
      Headquarters in Paris and approved the start of assessment studies for the
      first four robotic missions in the Programme.

      These assessments involve studies of two Flagship missions, which are
      major milestones to advance the scientific and technical knowledge in
      preparation for a human mission; and two Arrow missions, which are
      typically less complex and cheaper technology missions intended to reduce
      the risk involved in the more complex Flagship flights.

      The approved Flagship mission studies are:

      The Exo-Mars mission.

      The Exo-Mars mission will characterize the Martian biological environment
      before landings by other spacecraft or humans take place. Data from the
      mission will provide invaluable input to broader studies of Exobiology -
      the search for life beyond Earth.

      A Mars Orbiter will deliver a descent module from Martian orbit. The
      descent module will deliver a rover to a specified location using an
      inflatable aerobraking device or a parachute system. The rover, powered by
      conventional solar arrays, will be capable of travelling a few kilometres
      across the Martian surface. Its payload of about 40 kg will include a
      drilling system, as well as a sampling and handling device integrated with
      the package of scientific instruments.

      The Rover navigation system, including optical sensors, onboard software,
      autonomous operation capability and the life-detecting payload, is a
      significant technological challenge in which Europe and Canada can bring
      to fruition years of technology development within ESA and at national

      This mission will also be studied as a possible data relay system for the
      Mars Netlander mission led by the French Centre National d'Etudes
      Spatiales (CNES).

      The Mars Sample Return mission.

      A composite vehicle will carry into a Mars orbit both a descent module and
      an Earth re-entry vehicle. The descent module will carry to the surface of
      Mars a landing platform equipped with a sample collecting device and an
      ascent vehicle. A modest landing accuracy is expected to be sufficient for
      a mission bringing back the first ever sample of Martian soil.

      The ascent vehicle will carry a small canister containing the sample into
      a low altitude circular Mars orbit (e.g. 150 km) for a rendezvous with the
      Earth re-entry vehicle.
      This spacecraft will then deliver the re-entry capsule containing the
      sample on a ballistic trajectory into the Earth's atmosphere. A parachute
      (or inflatable device) landing system will ensure a safe landing.

      A Mars Sample Return mission requires a number of enabling technologies,
      which are not yet (or not fully) available in Europe. This concerns mainly
      the landing system, the ascent vehicle, the rendezvous system in Mars
      orbit and the Earth re-entry vehicle/ capsule.

      These technologies will be developed during two precursor Arrow missions:

      Earth re-entry vehicle / capsule.

      The envisaged mission will use a small spacecraft in a highly elliptical
      Earth orbit. The vehicle will be propelled towards the Earth under
      conditions similar to those that would be experienced by an interplanetary
      return capsule. This mission is a necessary preparatory step for the first
      Mars Sample Return Mission.

      Mars Aerocapture demonstrator.

      A small mission with the specific goal of validating technology that can
      slow a spacecraft and allow it to enter orbit around Mars by using
      friction with the planet's upper atmosphere. This will later be applied in
      a future Flagship mission, and eventually to the human mission elements.

      Notes for Editors:

      The robotic missions mentioned above constitute the first stepping stones
      toward the end goals of the Aurora programme, and they will allow a range
      of activities to start in earnest, from mission specific technology work
      to scientific preparation.

      Two main phases are foreseen for the long-term programme. The first phase
      in 2005-2015 is aimed at gathering the knowledge and developing and
      demonstrating technologies required for a human mission on Mars and Moon,
      eventually leading to a decision about whether to proceed with such a

      This initial phase will be followed in 2015-2030 by a second phase
      dedicated to development, verification and implementation of the European
      elements of the human mission, which is expected to be an international

      As currently envisaged, the main milestones of the Aurora programme are:
      two Mars Sample Return missions (2011-2017); the decision to go ahead with
      a human mission (2015); a robotic outpost on Mars and possible human
      mission to the Moon (2020 - 2025); and a human mission to Mars (2025 -

      The newly approved studies will help clarify feasibility and mission
      requirements and open the way to the early phase of the industrial work in
      2003. These missions were identified by the Exploration Programme Advisory
      Committee (EPAC) from a number of proposals collected throughout Europe
      and Canada in 2001, and recommended to the Member States for endorsement.
      The EPAC is constituted of independent scientific and technical advisors
      to the ESA Director General.

      The results will be presented to the Member States in December 2002 for
      approval to proceed into industrial Phase A studies.

      For further information, please contact :
      ESA Media Relations Service
      Tel: +33(0)
      Fax: +33(0)

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