July 15, 2009

Experts At Mars School In China

As the launch of the first Chinese mission to Mars gets closer, an ESA-sponsored Mars Advanced School will be held next week in China. Students will have the chance to learn more about Mars from experts, including ESA scientists.
The school is particularly timely as Yinghuo-1, or Firefly, the first Chinese mission to Mars that will explore its environment and investigate how surface water disappeared, is scheduled to launch later this year along with the Russian Phobos-Grunt spacecraft.

The school continues a tradition of collaboration between European and Chinese scientists as exemplified by ESA's Cluster and the Chinese-led Double Star missions. 
Up to 40 postdoctoral students, from mainland China and Taiwan, will attend this five-day course with expert teaching staff from Europe and China.

The European lecturers are experts in several disciplines of planetary geosciences, in particular concerning Mars, and are key players in the Mars Express mission. Their expertise will be complemented by that of the Chinese lecturers in space science and exploration programs.
The programme combines lectures and practical sessions that cover many aspects of the Red Planet: the geophysics of its interior, surface geology, atmosphere and climate.

The longest solar eclipse of this century will occur in the same week that the Mars school takes place, and the location of the school in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, falls along the path of totality. Students and teachers will take time out from the classroom to observe the eclipse on 22 July.


Image Caption: The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope took this snapshot of Mars 11 hours before the planet made its closest approach to Earth. The two planets are 55 760 220 kilometres apart. This image was made from a series of exposures taken between 22:20 and 23:12 UT on 26 August 2003 with Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.  Credits: NASA, J. Bell (Cornell U.) and M. Wolff (SSI)


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