Skip to comments.European Scientists Plan [Manned] Mars Mission
Posted on 02/03/2004 10:43:22 AM PST by ambrose
By JANE WARDELL
Associated Press Writer
European scientists set out a route map Tuesday for manned missions to Mars that aims to land astronauts on the Red Planet in less than 30 years.
Like U.S. President George W. Bush's proposed mission to Mars, the plan put forward by the European Space Agency involves a "stepping stone" approach, which includes robotic missions and a manned trip to the Moon first.
"We need to go back to the Moon before we go to Mars. We need to walk before we run," said Dr. Franco Ongaro, who heads the ESA's Aurora program for long-term exploration of the solar system, at a meeting of Aurora scientists in London. "These are our stones. They will pave the way for our human explorers."
The ESA has planned two flagship missions to Mars - ExoMars would land a rover on the planet in 2009, and Mars Sample Return would bring back a sample of the Martian surface in 2011-14.
Other test missions will include a non-manned version of the flight that would eventually carry astronauts to Mars to demonstrate aerobraking, solar electric propulsion and soft landing technologies.
A human mission to the Moon, proposed for 2024, would demonstrate key life-support and habitation technologies, as well as aspects of crew performance and adaptation to long-distance space flight.
The program is expected to cost about 900 million euros (US$1.13 billion) over the next five years.
Professor Colin Pillinger, the British scientist behind the recent ill-fated Beagle 2 expedition, said it was important to determine whether life existed on Mars before pressing ahead with a manned mission.
"Would it be right for us to tamper with the ecology on another body?" he asked. "My opinion is that it probably wouldn't."
The ExoMars rover would use solar arrays to generate electricity and travel several kilometers (miles) across the surface of Mars.
It would have on-board software enabling it to operate autonomously, and, like Beagle 2, a set of scientific instruments designed to search for signs of past or present life.
Mars Sample Return would be a more complex mission requiring five spacecraft - an interplanetary transfer stage, a Mars orbiter, a descent module, an ascent module and an Earth re-entry vehicle.
The module would contain a drill to collect soil samples and was expected to send back around half a kilogram (one pound) of Martian soil.
Scientists hope the expedition has a better outcome than the Beagle 2 trip. The British built lander, which was due to land on Mars on Christmas Day, has not been heard from since it separated from the ESA's mother ship, Mars Express, in mid-December, despite several efforts to contact it.
Mars Express itself has functioned as intended, orbiting the planet. ESA scientists said last month that it had found the most direct evidence yet of water in the form of ice on Mars, detecting molecules vaporizing from the Red Planet's south pole.
By contrast, NASA's twin rovers are reaching out to scoop and analyze the Martian surface some 6,600 miles (10,560 kilometers) apart, both machines using their robotic arms as intended following a software glitch.
President Bush last month sought to chart a new course for NASA, focusing on a return to the Moon by 2020 in preparation for manned missions to Mars and beyond.
My thoughts exactly. What have the European, Chinese and American scientists learned in the last few years that can suddenly motivate the political leadership of all three regions to dedicate resources for this effort?
Personally, I think Mars is a smokescreen for the real prize: permanent sites on the Moon. The ultimate military high ground!
The real prize is political spending and vote buying for the political class in all three. This is a very real and bery worthy goal to the politicians and an equally worthy goal of the engineers and PhDs who will get big fat sinecures that they might otherwise have to work for. As for the rest of us, maybe not so worthy.
The ultimate military high ground!Calling this military high ground is like calling the Himalayas military high ground during the Viet Nam war.
The Europeans need to land unmanned missions safely before they try sending real people to Mars.
Sigh . . . I guess it's better than sending out suicide bombers. So bring it on, euroweenies! . . . we'll compete with you anytime, anyplace.
But, but . . . but . . . Shouldn't we worry that this will engender further ill will amongst euroweenies toward us and make them feel like they have to send out additional spacecraft to compete (there's that hated capitalist terminology again) even more with us?
Which would bother them more, that they would be overwhelmed by Russia or by America? If it's Russia their expectations would be over and they wouldn't have a future to worry about. If it's America they would be colonized and their culture would disappear.
It seems the latter happened, but then the Americans withdrew. They are left with no culture and not even colonial status. Of course the Muslims moved into the vacuum. Like China after China's culture was destroyed, they are looking around for something to rebuild a culture, and it seems space development is it.
oops, that was another day
Legos will build the moon base.
That is certainly a possibility. Bush has not indicated that there will be a significant increase in NASA's budget. Instead, NASA has been instructed to redirect their efforts.
This is a very real and bery worthy goal to the politicians and an equally worthy goal of the engineers and PhDs who will get big fat sinecures that they might otherwise have to work for.
Politicians will get their pork one way or another.
You apparently know little or nothing about engineers and engineering. Engineering work is anything but easy. Placing a man on the moon is anything but trivial. The engineers will most definitely work hard for any 'sinecures' they may earn. You can question whether a moon colony is the best use of engineering talent, but never question the difficulty and dedication required by engineers to accomplish that goal.
If engineering were easy, everyone would be doing it! Perhaps even you!!
As for the rest of us, maybe not so worthy.
Wrong again. Just as the Apollo program provided the impetus for an explosion of inventions (microchips, computers, LCD displays, satellites, plastics, Tang! Just to name a few), so too will a vigorous program to colonize the moon result in an leap in technology.
>>(the moon) The ultimate military high ground!
>Calling this military high ground is like calling the Himalayas military high ground during the Viet Nam war.
Sorry, but you could not be more wrong. Imagine a spy satellite that cannot be shot down. Imagine a permanent nuclear launch site that cannot be taken out in 15 minutes. That is what the moon is. A missiles may be a stretch, but you better believe that the moon is highly desireable as an excellent listening post.
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