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Space Exploration


Given that life emerged early in the history of the Earth, could it have emerged on Mars ? ... or was, there life on Mars? interaction with biochemistry, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Space Exploration

British National Space Centre
  • Space Exploration
  • The UK Science and Technology Objectives
  • Dr David Parker
  • Director of Space Science
  • Washington
  • November 2004

The UK Space Science Community
  • 10 university space hardware groups and two
    national laboratories (the Rutherford Appleton
    Laboratory and the UK Astronomy Technology
  • A further 31 Universities with Space-related
    undergraduate courses
  • Over 100 large and small industrial companies
    involved in the ESA programme

  • The UK Science Focus

Goal Focus on Mars and its relationship to life
on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe
  • In its Strategic Plan 2003-2008 PPARC identified
    Does life exist elsewhere? as one of the nine
    big science challenges for the next decade
  • interconnected with exo-planet science (Darwin
  • search for pre-biotic chemicals throughput the
    Solar System (Rosetta, Huygens)
  • Image taken by Europes Mars Express of Ophir
    Chasma, a northern part of the Valles Marineris
    canyon. ESA/DLR/G.Neukum

Aurora Science Goals
  • Science associated with long duration human
  • Science associated with Mars as a planet with
    both similarities and dissimilarities with Earth
  • Science associated with Mars as a potential
    location for life (past and present)

Mars as a member of the Solar System
  • High Level Questions
  • Can we trace the history of the Solar System back
    to its formation 4.5 billion years ago ?
  • Can we understand the relationship between the
    Sun and its planets over time ?
  • Can we explain the distribution of mass and
    material types and relate them to models of Solar
    System formation ?
  • Can we compare this history with that of other
    solar systems, and generalise our models for
    different types of star ?
  • How does this relate to our observations of
    exo-planets ?

Mars as an accessible, fractionated, rocky planet
  • What is the history of Mars ?
  • Why does it have no dynamo, but high local
    magnetic anomalies ?
  • Why is its density distribution different from
    Earth ?
  • Does it have a liquid, solid or mixed
    solid/liquid core ?
  • What is the origin of the North/South dichotomy ?
  • Does it or did it have tectonic behaviour ?
  • Does it still have volcanism or hydrothermal
    activity ?
  • How have nutrients for life been circulated
    through the planets life

Mars as a planet with an atmosphere and
  • What is the current form of its atmosphere ? What
    is the origin of the methane ? What other trace
    gases are present ?
  • How does the atmosphere change with the seasons ?
    How has it changed over time ?
  • How does the atmosphere interact with the solar
    wind and the geology of the planet ?
  • What is the structure, history and variability of
    the cryosphere ?
  • What is the current distribution of water ? Is
    any in liquid form (e.g. sub-surface?)
  • When was liquid water present? In what form? Why
    and how did it appear ? Why and how did it
    disappear ?
  • When and how did intermediate episodes of
    flooding and fluvial erosion ?

Mars as a potential cradle of life
  • Given that in the past, conditions on Mars, the
    Earth and Venus were more comparable than they
    are today, how and why have the three planets
    evolved to todays differing conditions ?
  • How wide is the habitable zone ?
  • Given that life emerged early in the history of
    the Earth, could it have emerged on Mars ?
  • Did it ?
  • If not, why not ?
  • How does the knowledge gained inter-relate to our
    search for life on exo-planets ?

UK Science Themes
Linked to terrestrial biology
interaction with biochemistry, microbiology
Signatures of Life how does life show its
presence ?
Linked to life in other solar systems
Environments for Life What is the habitable zone
in our Solar System ?
Limits of Life What are the extremes That life
can exist in ?
Is, or was, there life on Mars?
Platforms for life Explore the atmosphere,
cryosphere, hydrosphere
Where is the UK Scientific Expertise ?
  • The UK has experimentalists, theoreticians and
    instrument designers

Technology for Exploration
  • UK Technology Priorities in Planetary Exploration

UK Technology Priorities Participants
Priorities Miniaturised Instrumentation In
situ exploration
  • miniature mass spectrometers
  • lab on a chip sensor which uses anti-bodies to
    identify complex carbon chemistry e.g.
  • X-ray spectrometers
  • UV sensors
  • Miniature stereo cameras

Example 2 Autonomous Robotics and Software
  • The Exo-Mars Rover
  • UK strengths in
  • Systems design (leading Phase A definition)
  • Analysis of rover mechanics
  • Miniature instruments
  • Aerobots
  • Software and operations environment
  • Planetary protection
  • The environment of Mars robotic missions is
  • Remote
  • Hazardous
  • Non-deterministic
  • An outstanding test-bed for advanced software

UK Interests - Platform and Operations
  • Electric propulsion
  • Large solar electric interplanetary missions in
    the inner solar system,
  • Solar electric missions to Mars, Jupiters moons
    and NEOs,
  • Nuclear electric interplanetary nuclear electric
    missions to the outer solar system.
  • Design for the space environment
  • Planetary protection including sample handling
  • Radiation, thermal, etc tolerance of miniaturised
    instruments and systems,
  • Materials and structures resilience to space and
    planetary environments,
  • Characterisation of orbital, planetary and deep
    space environments.
  • Deep Space communications
  • Inter- agency orbiter, lander and
    communications relay networking,
  • Seamless coverage during hazardous operations (eg
  • Efficient data collection, storage and timely
    delivery to the point of use.
  • Renewable energy sources
  • Fuel cells, hydrogen storage and manufacture,

Summary of UK Priorities (1/2)
  • Science
  • Planetology, with links to Earth system science
  • Astrobiology, with links to terrestrial biology
    and exo-planet science
  • Atmospheric science, with links to terrestrial
  • Technology
  • Instrumentation corresponding to the science
  • EDLS
  • Robotic surface mobility
  • Software operational infrastructure
  • Propulsion (chemical electric)

Mission Priorities
  • The UK will focus on high return Mars robotic
  • Exobiology
  • Sample Return
  • And technology demonstrators leading to these