Highlights from European Geosciences Union
The general assembly of the European Geosciences Union is an impressive forum for scientists and industries, with an audience this year at Vienna of more than 7000 attendees from around the world. This report covers several highlights of presentations by ESA scientists during the first two days of the five-day event.
Monday 16 April
Mars New Results
The session on "Recent Mars Science" started on Monday morning and was well attended. Two presentations were given by the Mars Express HRSC team. The first presentation provided a summary on the geologic evolution of Mars - episodicity of resurfacing events and ages - based on new cratering analyses of image data and correlation with radiometric ages of Martian meteorites. The second talk presented new results on source regions and multiple water release events over the course of the Martian history in valley networks of the Lybia Montes region.
The OMEGA/Mars Express team reported on the identification, characterization and implications of a Mars global climatic change and on mineralogy variations across Syrtis Major - one of the large volcanic complexes of Mars. Joint analysis of OMEGA and HRSC colour images and digital elevation provided interesting results on stratigraphic correlation between Mawrth Vallis region’s clays.
New results from the MARSIS radar were presented, mapping a layered subsurface structure in Elysium Planitia, a region with a complex geological history.
Benefits of Space Exploration
A well attended session on social benefits of space exploration organised by Bernard Foing & Serge Plattard, was preceeded by a media briefing on Monday afternoon.
In his presentation, Alain Dupas (College de Polytechique) discussed the political and economical drivers for lunar and planetary exploration.
Bernard Foing (ESA & ILEWG) presented the current panorama of international Moon-Mars exploration: "We have de facto entered an International Lunar Decade with SMART-1, to be continued by two lunar missions in 2007, the Japanese Selene and Chinese Chang-e 1, and three spacecraft in 2008 (Indian Chandryaan-1 and American LRO and LCROSS),” says Bernard Foing. "The space explorers are actively studying lunar landers and rovers that can prepare technologies for future robotic and human exploration."
John Farrow (ISU) gave a summary of the key points from presentations and discussions held earlier this year at the ISU Symposium 2007 "Why the Moon?"
Niklas Hedman, UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, discussed legal issues in exploration and the use of outer space, focussing on the role of COPUOS (Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space).
Serge Plattard, executive secretary of ESPI European Space Policy Institute, debated models and strategic framework for space exploration.
Bernard Hufenbach, (ESA-Exploration Programme) presented the European long-term strategy for space exploration, focussing on the development approach and status.
"It was useful in a science congress to make researchers aware of the political conditions and necessary strategies needed to develop exploration opportunities where science activities can harmoniously contribute," concluded Serge Plattard.
Tuesday 17 April
Venus Express Results
On Tuesday, Hakan Svedhem, Dima Titov and the Venus Express team reported to a large audience of 200 experts, highlights of results obtained during the first year of science operations with Venus Express.
Fred Taylor made a historical and didactic review on comparative planetology between Earth and Venus, presenting new exciting results related to the Venus atmospheric global dynamics. The Venus Express VIRTIS, VMC and ASPERA teams presented new results on the atmospheric composition, structure and dynamics, as well as interactions of Venus with the solar wind.
Planetary Plasma Physics
The planetary plasma physics session on Tueday afternoon dealt with the magnetic field of the Solar System planets, including Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (using the latest Cassini data).
David Southwood, ESA Director of Science, presented an analysis of rotating and periodic phenomena at Saturn in relation to the magnetic cam, cusp and current sheet, and results of an investigation into the role of internal and external interaction.