Mars Exploration symposium, Paris 1-5 February
1 February 1999More than 400 planetary scientists from 18 countries, including a strong participation from the US scientific community, are attending the International Symposium on 'Mars Exploration Programme & Sample Return Missions', which is being held this week, in Paris, in the conference centre of the Ministry of Education, Research and Technology.
The Symposium is organized by CNES and co-sponsored by ESA and NASA. Christophe Sotin from the Universiti of Nantes, co-chairman of the Scientific Committee with Francis Rocard, from CNES, says: "The conference follows the decision made by CNES to have a strong involvement in the International Mars Exploration Programme. This effort includes an important participation to the ESA Mars Express mission, a key component in the overall Programme, the deployment of a geophysical network of surface elements and a key participation in the joint NASA-CNES Mars Sample Return Mission being planned for 2005."
After the opening ceremony with introductory talks by Mr Claude Allhgre, French minister for Education, Research and Technology, Mr Antonio Rodota, ESA's Director General, Mr John Schumacher, NASA Associate Administrator for International Relations, and Mr Alain Bensoussan, CNES President, the first session of the Conference was devoted to a presentation of the on-going and planned missions to the Red Planet.
The other sessions include highlights of the recent results obtained by Mars Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, and ISO. Sotin says: "The following two sessions have the primary objective to open debate among the Scientific Community on the complementarity between advanced in-situ analysis and analysis in ground-based laboratories of samples brought back to Earth."
The conference ends on Friday 5 February with a session devoted to the presentation of studies of Sample Return Missions from other Solar System bodies. The two ESA advanced studies on Venus and Mercury Sample Return missions will be presented for the first time before the wide Science Community.