Biography & lecture abstracts
Agustin Chicarro was born in Madrid, Spain (1956). He studied Geology, Geochemistry and Geophysics at the University of Paris XI at Orsay, France, where he obtained his PhD in 1983 in Planetary Geology, with a thesis on compressive structures of the planet Mars. He carried out research on terrestrial planets at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, USA, for three years and teaching in Taiwan for another two years. Then, he continued research at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid. Finally, he joined the European Space Agency in 1988 at its ESTEC establishment in The Netherlands. He has worked as Study Scientist for more than ten future mission studies to Mars and the Moon and as Project Scientist of the successful Mars Express mission for over 12 years. He was nominated ESA Mars Lead Scientist in 2009, in charge of coordinating the scientific aspects of future ESA missions to Mars within the Mars Robotic Exploration Programme. His main scientific interest is comparative planetary geology of the inner planets, and in particular tectonics, volcanism, impact cratering and astrobiology. He has authored numerous articles and ESA reports on Mars exploration. He was awarded an honorary lifetime membership to the Association of Mars Explorers (2006). Agustin likes to learn foreign languages and his main hobbies are books, cinema, music and travel.
Lecture Overview-1: ESA's science programme
ESA's Science Programme addresses the fields of Solar System exploration as well as Astronomy and Astrophysics (including Fundamental Physics). The Sun is being studied by the Ulysses and SOHO missions, while Solar-Terrestrial interactions are addressed by the Cluster mission. Planets and minor bodies are the focus of the Giotto, Cassini-Huygens, Mars Express, Smart-1, Rosetta, Venus Express and Bepi-Colombo missions. The Universe is being studied by Cos-B, IUE, Exosat, Hipparcos, Hubble, ISO, XMM-Newton, Integral, Herschel, Planck, Lisa Pathfinder, JWST and Gaia. In addition, ESA is participating in a number of collaborative missions from other agencies such as Hinode and Double-Star for Solar-Terrestrial interactions, Kaguya, Chang' E-1 and Chandrayaan-1 for planetary studies, and Akari, Corot and Microscope for astronomy. Future missions, which are being evaluated in the so-called 'Cosmic Vision' programme will also be presented (e.g., Solar Orbiter, Marco Polo, Jupiter System).
Lecture Overview-2: ESA's Mars exploration missions
ESA's Mars Express mission was launched in 2003 and has been orbiting Mars for over seven years providing data with an unprecedented spatial and spectral resolution on the surface, subsurface, atmosphere and ionosphere of the red planet. The main theme of the mission is the search for water in its various states everywhere on the planet by all instruments using different techniques. A summary of scientific results of the mission will be given. Following Mars Express, European efforts in Mars Exploration will now take place within the joint ESA-NASA Mars Exploration Programme, starting in 2016 with the Trace Gases Orbiter (TGO) focusing on atmospheric trace gases and in particular methane. In 2018, a rover (resulting from the combination of ESA's ExoMars and NASA's MAX-C rovers) will perform geochemical and exobiological measurements of the surface and the subsurface. A number of missions for 2020 and beyond are currently under study. Among those, one possibility is a Mars Network Science Mission (MNSM) of 3-6 surface stations, to investigate the interior of the planet, its rotational parameters, its atmospheric dynamics as well as the geology, mineralogy and astrobiological significance of each landing site. MNSM (combined with an orbiter) represents a unique tool to perform new investigations of Mars, which could not be addressed by any other means. It will fill a longstanding gap in the scientific exploration of the Solar System by performing in-situ investigations of the interior of an Earth-like planet other than our own and provide unique and critical information about the fundamental processes of terrestrial planetary formation and evolution. Such mission has been considered a high priority by the planetary science community worldwide for the past 30 years, even though the long-term goal of Mars robotic exploration in Europe remains the return of rock and soil samples from the Martian surface before Humans eventually go to Mars.
Lecture Overview-3: Comparative planetology – Terrestrial planets
An overview of the interior and surface geology of the terrestrial planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and the Moon) will be presented. In particular, the interior structure and thermal evolution will be compared; also, surface features and geological provinces resulting from the planet's interior activity (i.e. volcanism and tectonics) will be addressed for the five Inner Planets. The fundamental importance of impact cratering in shaping the surface of the various planets will be reviewed. The atmospheres of Venus, Earth and Mars will also be compared. Outer Solar System satellites as well as exoplanets will be briefly discussed. Finally, the search for life and what makes an astronomical object a "terrestrial planet" will be addressed, as possible insights into the search for exoplanets, in particular those potentially harbouring life.
Lecture Overview-4: Geological treasures of East Asia
The purpose of this talk is to incite the curious-minded traveller to explore some of the most breathtaking landscapes and geological features across East Asia, including China, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and Siberia. The interior and geological processes responsible for these extraordinary vistas will also be discussed, in the framework of plate tectonics, in particular the closure of Tethys, the collision of India, the thinning of the North China craton and the South China orogeny. Finally, a comparison with similar geological features across the world will be attempted, in particular at the other end of the Eurasia landmass.
Briefing for European Lecturers: The cultural heritage of China
This briefing has been designed to provide the European lecturers with an overview of China's past, present and possible future, starting with its rich cultural heritage and natural attributes, as well as a glimpse into modern China' s upcoming superpower status. A variety of fields will be briefly presented, including geography, geology, weather, wildlife, population, history, politics, language, beliefs, inventions, architecture, visual arts, performing arts, martial arts, cuisine, cinema, exploration, economy, resources, transportation, sports, space, Chinese medicine, Chinese calendar, Chinese holidays, overseas Chinese, social issues, as well as an outlook on possible future trends.
Last Update: 04 November 2011