On Friday 8 April, media representatives wishing to know more about ESA’s Aurora programme and its future development are invited to a press briefing in London to share with European space scientists the results of an international workshop to be held in Birmingham on 6 and 7 April.

The ESA Aurora exploration programme, currently in its preparatory phase, features robotic exploration of Mars as a first step to deepen scientific knowledge of the Martian environment and address technological challenges.

The scientific scope of the Aurora exploration programme and of its first mission is the outcome of a large survey conducted among European scientists in 2001 leading to an exobiology mission, ExoMars, and later a Mars sample return mission.

In the run-up to the next ESA Council meeting at ministerial level in December, it is important to have confirmation of the priorities of the scientific community involved and interested in the exploration of Mars.

To this end ESA, in cooperation with the British National Space Council (BNSC) and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), has invited European, Canadian and US scientists and researchers with an interest in the exploration of Mars to a workshop at which options for the next missions to Mars will be presented and debated.

The workshop is being held on 6 and 7 April in Birmingham, UK, at the ‘Lakeside Centre’ at Aston University. Participation is restricted to scientists and researchers. Representatives of the media are invited to a press briefing in London on Friday 8 April where the outcome of the workshop will be presented (see attached registration form).

Speakers at the press briefing will include Lord Sainsbury, the British Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, Daniel Sacotte, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight, Microgravity and Exploration, Bruno Gardini, ESA Aurora Programme Manager and Mark Sims, University of Leicester and Chair of the PPARC Aurora Advisory Committee.  Jim Saldlier, PPARC Director of Strategic Planning, will moderate the event.

Media representatives wishing to attend the press briefing in London (venue: Conference Centre, Church House, Dean’s Yard, Westminster- 11:30 -12:30 hrs, doors open at 11:00 hrs) are kindly requested to complete the attached registration form and send it to Julia Maddock, PPARC Press Office (fax. +44 (0)1793 442002, phone + 44 (0)1793 44 2094, e-mail: Julia.maddock@pparc.ac.uk).

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Division
Tel: +33(0)
Fax: +33(0)

Piero Messina
Aurora Programme Administrator
Tel :+33(0)
Fax: +33(0)
Cell: +33(0)6.8771.5126
e-mail: piero.messina@esa.int