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Micro 55 poster

Scientific Destinations for Human Exploration
The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and Convention Center
1601 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, Texas, USA
March 15-16, 2014

Co-Sponsored by Brown University, Vernadsky Institute,
Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI)




Over 40 years after the Apollo Astronauts completed successful scientific exploration of six regions of the Moon, we are once again on the threshold of sending humans beyond low Earth orbit to undertake rigorous, important scientific exploration and sample return from the Moon, asteroids, Phobos and Mars. 

On January 9th, 2014, at the 1st International Space Exploration Forum (ISEF), ministers and high-level officials from 35 space-faring countries gathered in Washington D.C. to discuss international cooperation on space exploration. According to William J. Burns, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, ISEF brings together “representatives from emerging and established space-faring nations from every corner of the globe – an unprecedented gathering at an unprecedented time for space exploration.” “This past year we celebrated 15 consecutive years in orbit for the International Space Station” and “the Station is the foundation for future human exploration to an asteroid, the Moon, and ultimately Mars. It is a lasting testament to how much more we can accomplish together than we can on our own.”

Technology is being developed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). NASA is developing the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion Spacecraft to carry astronauts beyond LEO.  China, Russia, the European Space Agency, India and Japan, and private industry, have all discussed plans to send humans to the Moon and beyond.

But less well-articulated are the compelling scientific reasons to send humans to explore each of the candidate destinations.  What can and should humans be doing to address the fundamental scientific questions at hand for the Moon, asteroids, Phobos and Mars?  

What are the key and compelling scientific goals and objectives for human exploration for the Moon, asteroids, Phobos and Mars?  How do these questions and their significance shape our thinking and planning for future human exploration?  How should human and robotic exploration proceed in a preparatory, complementary and synergistic fashion?  What role will international cooperation play in human exploration of these bodies?  

As a fundamental guide to successful human exploration of planetary bodies, the Microsymposium program will include an overview and analysis of the goals, objectives, performance and results of the Apollo Lunar Exploration Program missions.  

Concise summaries of what we have learned in the last several decades of robotic exploration about the Moon, asteroids, Phobos and Mars will be presented.  Emphasized will be a synthesis of the key outstanding scientific questions, together with thoughts about the role that human exploration can play in addressing these fundamental questions. 

Important to successful human exploration are the multitudes of precursor landers, rovers and sample-return missions necessary to set the stage for landing site selection, human arrival, and scientific operations planning.  Microsymposium 55 will also feature updated summaries of these ongoing and planned missions from our international scientific colleagues. 

The goal of Microsymposium 55 is to begin to provide a solid scientific foundation for the development of candidate human exploration destinations.  As national and international plans to venture beyond low Earth orbit continue to develop, this solid scientific foundation can form the basis for discussions between scientists and engineers to ensure the type of shoulder-to-shoulder science and engineering synergism that characterized the very successful Apollo Lunar Exploration Program.   Such a solid scientific foundation can provide a lasting legacy that will build on Apollo and extend well beyond humanity’s first flags and footprints. 

The Microsymposium will be held at the Woodlands Waterway Marriot Hotel and Convention Center, March 15-16th, 2014, at the site of the 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference taking place March 17-21, 2014.  Micro 55 will begin at 1 PM on Saturday, March 15th, and will conclude Sunday, March 16th, by 1 PM.  The Microsymposium will emphasize open discussion format and will be anchored by invited overviews, commentaries and posters. We ask that requests for presentations and posters be submitted no later than January 27th, 2014 through the registration site.  

If you are interested in participating in Microsymposium 55, please complete the registration form online.  Those wishing to attend the conference can register at any time, including up to the time of the conference, but advance notice helps us to plan refreshments and seating. Please forward this announcement and poster to interested colleagues and students. We look forward to seeing you at Microsymposium 55 and LPSC 45! 

Co-conveners:  Carle Pieters, Maria Zuber, David Scott, James Head, Igor Mitrofanov, Alexander Basilevsky, Ben Weiss, and Harald Hiesinger