A Zeppelin for Mars exploration proposed by the students at Alpbach Summer School 1999
19 Aug 1999Students at the annual Alpbach Summer School on Space Research and Technology proposed the use of a Zeppelin as a highly versatile vehicle to explore Mars. Space scientists so far had concentrated their efforts on rovers, balloons or planes - i.e. systems that are bound to the surface, free-flying but not steerable or too fast for detailed local investigations.
The new idea of using a Zeppelin provides three-dimensional steering and a choice between sejourning at a given, interesting place and traveling for surveying the landscape or to go to another location. A Zepplin is specially useful to study the so-called Mars dichotomy, a seven kilometer high wall, which gives access for the study of many geological layers, which otherwise could only be studied by deep Martian drilling.
The two-week Alpbach Summer School is jointly organised by the Austrian Space Agency (ASA), the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Transport and the European Space Agency (ESA) with support from its 14 member states. Students were not only given lectures on the school's topic - this year the planet Mars - but were also carrying out studies for a variety of missions to Mars, up to an eventual manned exploration of the planet.
"The students of this Summer School demonstrated with their studies that we can look forward to a future generation of European space scientists with excellent skills and creativity", said Hans Balsiger, Chairman of ESA's Science Programme Committee, when he summarized the results of the two weeks' work by the participants.
The Summer School Alpbach 1999 was attended by 72 students coming from 14 countries and took place in Austria from 3-12 August.
Hugo Maree, ESA Public Relation Division
Hans Balsiger, University of Berne
Michaela Gitsch & Klaus Pseiner, Austrian Space Agency