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On Monday delegates of the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) and the Israel Space Agency signed an agreement in Tel Aviv, Israel to conduct the OeWF’s next Mars-Analog-Mission in the Negev desert in Israel. The Israel Space Agency is a national agency operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz “I am delighted that the Austrian Space Forum and the Israel Space Agency will cooperate to realize this Mars-Analog-Mission, an enterprise under Austrian leadership. This will further contribute to the economical cooperation of our two countries and is a success for Austria as a center of technology.”
The Austrian Minister of Space, Norbert Hofer ads: “I congratulate the Austrian Space Forum on the cooperation with the Israel Space Agency and look forward to numerous science institutions participating. Through its Mars simulations the Austrian Space Forum not only conducts international field missions every 2 years but also enhances public fascination for space, especially Mars.”
In the presence of the Austrian Ambassador to Israel, Martin Weiss Mag. Alexander Soucek and Sophie Gruber, BSc both board members of the Austrian Space Forum and Dr. Avi Blasberger, Director of the Israel Space Agency signed the Memorandum of Understanding for AMADEE-20. This simulation of a human mission to Mars will take place under Austrian leadership. From mid-October to mid-November 2020 a team of six analog astronauts will test procedures and experiments that shall enable future Mars explorers to detect traces of life on the Red Planet. The highly trained analog astronauts will work in isolation, assisted by the Mission Support Center in Innsbruck, Austria. Science institutions are invited to submit their experiment proposals to take part in the Mars Analog Mission by the 4th of March 2019.
Mag. Alexander Soucek, president of the Austrian Space Forum stresses the significance of analog research: “The Austrian Space Forum is an important partner to international science institutions and industry regarding the implementation of Mars analog missions. During these missions we test experiments, equipment and procedures submitted by international organizations. Thus we determine their usability and potential for the human exploration of other planets. Through our Mars mission simulations we contribute to the preparation of future human missions to the Red Planet.”
Dr. Gernot Grömer, Administrative Director of the Austrian Space Forum and AMADEE-20 mission-lead, ads: “In the Israel Space Agency we have gained a strong and reliable partner for our next Mars analog mission. Today’s signing of our Memorandum of Understanding marks a major milestone in the preparations for our 4-week-mission in the Negev desert. With AMADEE-20 we will increase the fidelity of our Mars mission simulations even further as our analog astronauts will perform all experiments on their own without the assistance of a field-crew.” During earlier missions a small field-crew was stationed on the test site to support the analog astronauts in preparing and maintaining the equipment used to conduct the experiments. AMADEE-20 will see the six highly trained analog astronauts carry out these tasks on their own, directed by the Mission Support Center in Innsbruck, Austria. Emulating the exploration of the Red Planet the Mission Support Center will provide the mission’s detailed schedule, the so called flightplan and relay the data obtained in the field to participating science institutions all around the world.
According to the Minister of Science Ofir Akunis, “We are proud to have chosen the beautiful and special area of Mitzpe Ramon for the project, and we have no doubt that the simulation will have scientific value, along with informative and even tourist value for breathtaking views of Israel.”
Avi Blasberger, Director of Israel Space Agency: “We are proud to take part in preparations for future missions to Mars. Mars analog missions are very significant in these preparations. We are glad that the OWEF found Mitzpe Ramon suitable to host the simulation and look forward to the academic, industrial and educational contributions the simulation would have to the space field.”
Between the 15th of October and the 15th of November 2020, the Austrian Space Forum – in cooperation with the Israel Space Agency as the host agency and D-MARS – will conduct an integrated Mars analog field mission in the Negev Desert in Israel. The expedition will be carried out in a Martian terrestrial by a small field crew of highly trained analog astronauts using Mars suit prototypes thus taking part in preparing for future human and robotic Mars exploration. Mag. Alexander Soucek, president of the Austrian Space Forum stresses the value of analog missions: “Simulating human-robotic surface activities in terrestrial Mars-analogs has evolved into an efficient tool for developing exploration mission architectures. They facilitate our understanding of the advantages and limitations of future human planetary missions and have become an added value to the development of remote science operations. Mars mission simulations thus help to understand the constraints and opportunities of the implemented technology and workflows.”
Application for international Science Institutions open until the 4th of March 2019
The Austrian Space Forum invites the scientific community to submit experiment proposals in the fields of geosciences, engineering, planetary surface operations, life sciences including astrobiology and human factors. The AMADEE-20 expedition will implement an “exploration cascade”, a strategically planned interplay of the respective instruments and experiments relevant for human-robotic Mars missions. Therefore the experiments will be selected in respect of their utility to support and fit into this exploration cascade. This algorithm is designed to enable the field-crew to obtain as much useful data as possible by efficiently applying manpower and equipment, which will be in limited supply not only in the Negev desert but also on the Red Planet.
Details on the Announcement of Opportunity can be found here: oewf.org/en/portfolio/amadee-20/
About the Test-Site in Israel
The test site is located in the Negev desert in southern Israel within the erosion structures of the Ramon Crater: Although not an impact crater, but a rare form of erosion structures, it has a resemblance to various Mars surface features, and a variety of terrain types relevant to Mars exploration. The test site offers a wide range of sand and rocky surfaces combined with a broad variability in inclination.
About the OeWF’s Analog Astronauts and the Mars-Suit Prototype
Analog research is the development of equipment, procedures and experiments for the future human and robotic exploration of terrestrial planets such as Mars. Experiments are conducted in the fields of geosciences, engineering, planetary surface operations, life sciences including astrobiology and human factors. These high fidelity simulations enhance the acquisition of scientific knowledge, optimize the security of planetary surface operations and further technology-transfer.
The OeWF’s analog astronauts are specifically trained spacesuit testers. After an extensive selection process they run through a several month long basic training. Analog astronauts are deployed for technical tests and Mars simulations.
To perform the experiments, the OeWF’s analog-astronauts wear a prototype spacesuit. The Austrian Space Forum is one of five science institutions worldwide that has so far developed such a spacesuit simulator. This spacesuit simulator is equipped with an incorporated interface to assist the astronauts in their work. The spacesuit is designed to deliver the astronaut’s vital data and mimic the restrictions of a spacesuit that will be worn by astronauts on Mars. It provides movement restrictions, limited sensory input as well as the weight and an uncomfortably high centre of gravity typical of a pressure suit worn in space. Thus it enables the Austrian Space Forum’s analog-astronauts to test equipment, workflows and experiments meant for the Red Planet under conditions that resemble Mars. By developing the spacesuit simulator the Austrian Space Forum also aims to optimize interactions with other (robotic) components – such as a rover – and minimize the risk of human contamination of the test-site. Currently the Austrian Space Forum is developing its second generation of spacesuit simulators. The “SERENITY”-spacesuit prototypes will be used in the Negev desert for the first time. About Serenity: oewf.org/en/amadee-program/spacesuit-simulator/
ABOUT THE AUSTRIAN SPACE FORUM
The Austrian Space Forum is one of the world’s leading institutions conducting Mars analog missions, thus paving the way for the future human exploration of the red planet.
Experts from a broad variety of disciplines as well as the spaceflight sector constitute the core of the OeWF’s continued endeavors that on a regular basis include national and international institutions from science and industry to work at the cutting edge of scientific research. On doing so the Austrian Space Forum is using its excellent contacts to opinion leaders, politics and media to further and internationally propagate Austrian top-level research.
The Austrian Space Forum also contributes significantly to inspiring and educating young people in the sectors of science, technology and engineering. The OeWF offers internships to students and pupils, its experts supervise scientific papers on a regular basis. www.oewf.org
This article is available in: German
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