Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific Challenge: Two specific areas of space science where there is a significant underinvestment when compared to the potential scientific return for Europe are sample curation facility and the exploitation of data of Mars.

One of the main mid-term goals of global space exploration activities is to bring back samples from Mars, asteroids or the Moon. These sample return missions will be developed in the context of ESA programmes or in the international context. However, a European extra-terrestrial sample curation facility will be required in preparation for such missions. The challenge here is to study and map all the aspects required to develop such a facility for all types of samples at the European level, taking into account specificities of receiving potential Moon, Mars and Asteroids samples.

With the highly successful Mars Express mission, launched in 2003, and still operational, Europe firmly established its role on Mars science and exploration. In the last decade an extensive amount of data has been acquired of the atmosphere, surface and sub-subsurface of Mars. The challenge is to fully exploit this data for fundamental scientific purposes, and in preparation for the next set of European Mars missions to be launched in 2016 (ExoMars orbiter and lander) and 2018 (ExoMars rover) and prepare for future Mars missions.

Scope: An action on sample curation facility should aim at guaranteeing terrestrial planetary protection. It should analyse what facilities, analytical methods and instruments, portable receiving facilities for sample transfers, and analogue samples are required in what timeframe. This analysis must take into account specificities of receiving potential Moon, Mars and Asteroid samples in order to adequately serve future sample return mission that will take place with European involvement.

For the exploitation and development of tools for the exploitation of data of Mars for scientific research, and analysis in preparation of the two ExoMars missions the scope is to rely on the data available through the ESA Planetary Science Archive or other means (e.g. instrument teams). Combination and correlation of this data with data from NASA missions is encouraged to further increase the scientific return and to enable new investigations with existing data sets. This includes data from the atmosphere, surface and sub-surface of Mars, as well as data from the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. Enhanced data products would be fed back to the ESA archives.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: In the first case, building on existing roadmaps, the action is expected to analyse of opportunities and risks and define further necessary steps, for the implementation of a European extra-terrestrial sample curation facility taking into account specificities of receiving potential Moon, Mars and Asteroids samples.

In the second case proposals are expected to result in scientific publications, open access tools for data use interacting with European archives, and in high-level data products, such as digital maps or atmospheric models, which can be used in the preparation for the operational phases of the ExoMars missions and subsequent missions.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions


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