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Marco Polo Workshop

Marco Polo Workshop

11 March 2008

5 & 6 June 2008Salle Miramar, La Croisette, Cannes, FranceCroisette Beach Hotel13, rue du Canada, 06400 Cannes, France


Patrick Michel (Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, France) and Antonella Barrucci (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon), Marco Polo Lead Proposer
Detlef Koschny (ESA/ESTEC), Marco Polo Study Scientist


Patrick Michel (


This is an announcement for the first open Workshop on the Marco Polo mission, jointly organized by the Côte d'Azur Observatory and ESA.

Marco Polo is a Near-Earth Object sample return mission studied within the Cosmic Vision programme. It was proposed by Antonella Barucci and a team of several hundred scientists in Europe to ESA in 2007 and is currently undergoing an assessment study.

Marco Polo was proposed in response to ESA's call for mission proposals as part of the new Cosmic Vision programme, suggesting missions with a launch date between 2015 and 2025.The lead proposers are Antonella Barucci from the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon and M. Yoshikawa from the Japanese space agency JAXA. They were supported by a core team of six scientists in Europe, two scientists in Japan, and one in the USA. A total of 436 scientists from countries all over the world support the proposal.

Small bodies in the solar system are leftover building blocks of the formation of the solar system. They offer clues to the chemical mixture from which the planets formed some 4.6 billion years ago. Also, current exobiological scenarios for the origin of life invoke an exogenous delivery of organic matter to the early Earth: it has been proposed that primitive bodies could have brought these complex organic molecules capable of triggering the pre-biotic synthesis of biochemical compounds on the early Earth. Moreover, collisions of NEOs with the Earth pose a finite hazard to life. For all these reasons, the exploration of such objects is particularly interesting and urgent.

The principal scientific objective of the Marco Polo mission is to return unaltered material from a NEO, for analysis in terrestrial laboratories, thereby obtaining measurements that cannot yet be performed from a robotic spacecraft (e.g. dating the major events in the history of a sample).

Moreover, the mission will enable us to:

  1. Determine the physical and chemical properties of the target body, which are representative of the planetesimals present in the early solar nebula
  2. Identify the major events (e.g. agglomeration, heating, aqueous alteration, solar wind interaction) which influenced the history of the target
  3. Determine the elemental and mineralogical properties of the target body and the geological context of the surface
  4. Search for pre-solar material yet unknown in meteoritic samples
  5. Investigate the nature and origin of organic compounds on the target body
  6. Identify organic compounds which may reveal the origin of pre-biotic molecules
  7. Understand the role of minor body impacts in the origin and evolution of life on Earth

Workshop objectives

The workshop objectives are to present the current status of the Marco Polo study activities within ESA and the international scheme that is being put in place to make the mission happen. It also invites scientific presentations about the current state of asteroid research and sample analysis, in particular addressing points where a NEO sample return mission would contribute, and presentations about possible payload elements, sampling requirements, mechanisms and facilities.

This workshop will provide an opportunity to the wide planetary science community to interact with the Marco Polo Science Study Team and ESA to further refine the mission's goals, its science drivers, and the necessary technology developments for the science payload.


The meeting will take place in Cannes, on the French Riviera in France, hosted by the Société Astronomique de Cannes. A direct bus makes the connection from Nice airport to Cannes every 30 minutes (it takes 40 minutes).

The meeting will start on Thursday, 5 June 2008 at 14h30m and will end on Friday, 6 June 2008 at 17h00m. A detailed agenda will be given later. The hotel hosting the meeting is the Croisette Beach Hôtel, 13 rue du Canada, 06400 Cannes. The sessions will take place at the Espace Miramar on the Croisette at 100 meters from the hotel (detailed directions will be given at the hotel).

To foster interaction between participants, on 5 June, sessions will be followed by a dinner on the beach, and on 6 June, a lunch will also be served on the beach. The aim is to have all participants stay together continuously and exchange information and ideas.

For more information on the meeting location, see here:

The hotel has blocked a limited number of bedrooms for us until 25 March, and beyond that date, the availability is not guaranteed. Late participants will have to look for other hotels (be careful as June has become busy in Cannes). Therefore, we strongly encourage participants to make their reservation as soon as possible.

Click on the link under documentation to download the hotel reservation form and submit it directly to the hotel.

For people booking the Croisette Beach Hôtel, the price of participation to the meeting, including one night stay, breakfast buffet, the dinner, the lunch and coffee breaks is 266,3 Euros/per participant in a single room and 196,3 Euros/per participant in a double room shared with a colleague.

For late participants who will lodge to another hotel, the price of participation to the meeting will be (including conference room access, dinner, lunch and coffee breaks) 150 Euros.

For those who require it, a receipt of registration will then be provided to participants, which should allow getting a refund for the expenses exceeding their usual daily allowance.

Finally, please note, that depending on the financial support obtained by the organisation, these prices may be revised to a lower rate (no guarantee yet).


To register for the workshop click here. This will create an email listing the information required. Please complete and send. In case of problems contact

Last Update: 1 September 2019
12-Aug-2020 19:10 UT

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