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The exploration and colonisation of Mars: operational scenarios and national strategy<img alt="" src="" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /> exploration and colonisation of Mars: operational scenarios and national strategyThe exploration and colonisation of Mars: operational scenarios and national strategy<p style="text-align:justify;">The 1-day event that was held yesterday, organised by CIRA within the context of the "MARS" Flagship Programme at the Italian Space Agency (ASI) headquarters focused on a discussion based on the theme of the Exploration and Colonisation of Mars.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The main focus of the event, that brought together over 100 sector-related experts, was the presentation of the technological development activities that are necessary in order to achieve the colonisation of Mars, yet it also dealt with the results obtained thanks to the experiments concluded on the International Space Station and on ExoMars.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The top management of ASI and CIRA opened the event. "This workshop – stated the ASI President, Roberto Battiston– provides an excellent opportunity to present an extremely ambitious programme that is bound to bring great benefits also to life on Earth. In order to ensure that it goes through, it will be necessary to create an adequate infrastructure so as to carry out research activities in all sectors linked with a mission on Mars and to the permanence of man on the red planet. These will be conducted at CIRA, so that the Centre can become a point of reference for the entire scientific and industrial community also in this sector. During the 3-year programme that has just been approved, the Italian Space Agency has foreseen specific investments in this project that will be made in addition to the CIRA resources already available, to keep our Country at the forefront within the space sector also in the forthcoming decades".<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">"The objective of this workshop is to collect information from the representatives of the worlds of research and industry relating to the specific requirements needed so as to create a facility that can be of great use with regards to the development of technologies in many sectors. CIRA, with the PRORA programme that started many years ago, equipped itself with systems that were unique worldwide, winning a bet that now we intend to win once again with the new PRORA programme alongside the nine flagship programmes that it contains. Today, investing in Space is of fundamental importance, as it represents a formidable technological driving force as well as a great growth factor for the entire Country system" added the CIRA President, Paolo Annunziato.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The talks continued with astronaut Roberto Vittori, who, by means of a video message, expressed his thoughts on the importance of space exploration and the conquest of other planets, then he went on to speak about the main objectives of the MARS Flagship Programme with Pasquale Cangiano, the Programme Manager of the "Infrastructures for the access and exploration of Space" project which includes the Mars Facility, while Nunzia Favaloro, the Project Manager described the relevant feasibility study carried out.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The great interest towards planetary exploration, focusing particular attention on Mars, requires the development of research skills in enabling technological areas for future robotic and human missions, along with skills to design, create and manage experimental and test laboratories, that are functional to those technological areas, in order to be able to provide valid support to industries, universities and research centres so as to carry out future missions.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">On the international scene, there are already a few laboratories dedicated to the development of technologies to explore Mars. However, these are characterised by operational and performance limits as well as the reduced size of the test chambers.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Therefore, within such context, CIRA has prepared a research programme that foresees, as from 2020, the creation of an integrated facility that can encompass several advanced laboratories on one site, that are oriented towards the carrying out of tests that focus on future exploration and colonisation missions.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The presentations and accounts given by the several speakers who intervened were particularly significant and were divided into two separate sessions:</p><p style="text-align:justify;">In the first session, the speakers were called upon to take stock of the results achieved within the context of the experiments carried out on the International Space Station and on the terrestrial analogue sites, on both the activities concluded as well as those scheduled as part of the international Exo-Mars programme, highlighting further technological areas to be investigated on future exploration and colonisation missions;</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Instead, the second session was dedicated to life in extreme environments such as the one on Mars, in particular regarding the studies carried out on Cyanobacteria, on the development of bio-regenerative systems to support life in Space, that represent a crucial point in the planning of long-term Space exploration missions. In fact, the astronauts are guaranteed the continuous regeneration of primary resources through the creation of a system that reproduces (on a small scale) the cycles that are developed on the Earth. A bio-regenerative system of this kind envisages the presence of higher plants used as bio-regenerating elements capable of producing food and oxygen, while consuming carbon dioxide and purifying water.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The new CIRA infrastructure used to carry out important experiments in the Mars environment will represent unique facilities worldwide both in terms of operational capacities (the capacity to simulate temperature, pressure, gas composition, solar radiation, wind and sand storms) as well as the size of the item being tested. In order to deal with the many technical and technological challenges to be faced, thematic meetings will be organised focusing on each of the facilities involved: Environmental chambers (Advanced Analogue); Life Support System Area; Robotic Facility.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">May 8th, 2018<br></p>2018-05-07T22:00:00Z

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