Saturday, March 10, 2007

ESA invites proposals

ESA's Aurora Space Exploration Programme invites proposals for the Next Exploration Science and Technology (NEXT) mission.

The Aurora Programme is composed of two main elements: a Core Programme, which aims to establish the ability of Europe to participate as a recognised partner in future international space exploration endeavours, and an Exploration Robotic Missions component with a first mission, ExoMars, which is now being implemented for launch in 2013.

As an intermediate step, after ExoMars and before the international context will allow the initiation of a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, the Executive considers proposing to the next Ministerial Council an 'ExoMars class' mission.

Envisaged for launch in the period 2015-2018, the technological goal of NEXT is to demonstrate key enabling capabilities, such as descent and precision landing, as needed for a future Mars Sample Return mission.


To this end the Core Programme has initiated an MSR Phase A2 System Study, building on the results of two previous Phase A1 studies. In this frame Entry, Descent and Soft/Precision Landing on the one hand, and Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking/Capture on the other, were identified as key elements of interest for Europe.

Such a mission would demonstrate in particular key MSR technologies and achieve a step change in the European capabilities over and above present possible contributions to the MSR mission, whilst also providing an opportunity for scientific investigations. Ideas that would include aspects relevant to the human exploration scenario are welcome.

NEXT exploration mission - call for ideas
Proposals and suggestions are sought from Industry, Technical Centres and the Scientific Community for mission concepts that would combine, in the spirit of exploration, technology development with first class science.

Ideas should be submitted electronically to: not later than 13 April 2007.
Solar Sail Mission to an Asteroid by Centauri Dreams
Solar Power at Play - Observing the Spin-Up of an Asteroid ESO
Sensor Being Developed To Check For Life On Mars from Science Daily

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