ISU Session: Gerald Soffen Memorial Panel on Mars

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GERALD SOFFEN MEMORIAL PANEL
What’s Next for Mars Exploration?

Moderator:
Dr. David J.W. Kendall
Director General, Space Science Program
Canadian Space Program

Panelists:

Pascale Ehrenfreund
Research Professor
Space Policy Institute
The George Washington University

Jim Green
Planetary Science Division Director
NASA

David Southwood
Director of Science and Robotic Exploration
ESA

Hajime Yano
Assistant Professor, Department of Planetary Science
ISAS/JAXA

Dr. David J.W. Kendall
Director General, Space Science Program
Canadian Space Program

After a decade of tremendous successes, we are at a crossroads – NASA, ESA and other nations are rethinking their programs

Questions:

What sort of international effort should be done given a robust budget over the next 15 years?
Will the recent agreement of NASA and ESA to explore Mars together work?

Pascale Ehrenfreund
Research Professor
Space Policy Institute
The George Washington University

– a lot of uncertainty about martian habitability
– Mars is the only place in the near future where we’ll be able to study life on another planet
– conditions on Mars not conducive to life on the surface, so we’ll probably have to drill down
– lots of work to do…

– The structures will be patchy, we have to know where we will go
– Instrument sensitivity is key
– Handling issues for sample return need to be worked out

Need mission with multiple, complementary instruments that will look for the same compounds…

$5 billion for a sample return mission….
– if you send a sample return to the wrong place, then it will be a waste of money….

Jim Green
Planetary Science Division Director
NASA

– Existing program has a basic science theme: follow the water…
– Water is, from our prospective, essential to life
– Spacecraft are strategically placed both on the surface and in orbit….
– Orbiters not only serve as relay satellites but also to carefully map out the planet….

– Have discovered abundant evdence that there were enormous amounts of water on Mars in the past….
– There is a significant amount of water both at the polar regions but also locked below the surface as ice….
– Methane has been discovered….could indicate life – or not

– Sample return is incredibly important – and incredibly expensive – billions of dollars
– Mars Science Laboratory is $2.2 billion – Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) are $500 million projects…

David Southwood
Director of Science and Robotic Exploration
ESA

– “It’s human destiny to go there, and we have to set about doing it.”
– We’ll have $7.5 billion, but we really need about $12 billion…
– Must find a way to integrate Mars exploration into normal life, the same way that Darwin’s ship sailed off to the Galapagos Islands…

Questions:

Q. Is anyone looking at in-situ fuel production to power sample return?

Green: Not specifically. Theme of our mission is scientific study, not living off the land. There are a lot of things to be tested first before you can do it.

Q: Which region on Mars is the most promising for the search for life?

Ehrenfreund: We need to explore habitability more before we know. Instruments will not always work properly on all

Green: A number of great sites to explore, and we’ll find more as the orbiters map the world.

Q: What’s up with the ExoMars being so late? It will take 10 years to get to Mars on a mission they’ve been thinking about for 10 years.

Southworth: ExoMars is a $1.3 billion Euro project, but he’s been asked to do it for $850 million Euro. Mars Science Lab is $2.2 billion.
– “What Europe needs to do is grow up.”  – devote much more money to major projects…

Q: How do we get support for human Mars missions?

Ehrenfreund: We are already studying this matter – 14 member working group looking at everything from robotic to human Mars missions.