Water: Both a scientific and engineering issue.

Useless to say longer that water supports life development when thermal and pressure conditions allow it is in liquid state.

Soon in the space exploration scientific missions have focused on looking for water presence in celestial bodies.

Space explorer missions and infrared astronomy from space instruments, in combination with ground astronomical observatories, have evidenced water molecules being widely present in the universe. Moreover, planetary missions aiming at survey of solar system bodies have identified comets and icy moons, like Europa moon of Jupiter and Enceladus moon of Saturn, mostly covered if not totally composed of water. Mars exploration has demonstrated water was running there in a past period, several billions years ago, before letting place to dry ground and rarefied atmosphere.

 

Follow-on space missions to search for water is essential in exploring the solar system.

A double purpose copes with this water theme.

  • Amplify the science knowledge by trying to get in-situ data from samples of water, icy blocks or water embedded in rocks, thus determining physical elements and making comparison with Earth waters: isotopic composition, mineral content, biological traces if any. Liquid water is a good solvent so that even icy water keeps memory of materials it has encountered before. History of the solar system will learn from variety of sample memories. Return of samples on Earth would insure refined analyses.
  • Prepare human exploration as planned with Earth Moon and later-on with Mars. Sustainability of such exploration is fully conditioned by the proximity of water deposits of every nature able to be processed into pure water by robotic means. Usage is not only envisaged to supply crew visits and its habitat; it is in a larger amount beneficial to produce oxygen and hydrogen when contemplating other utilisations like storage of energy, fuel cells for rover vehicles, growth of vegetal food in greenhouse facilities, and other small industry to take place in a standing human base. Future Moon and Mars bases cannot be settled without prerequisite conditions about affordability of water supply.

One should note that many research works and associated discoveries still need to be effective on the present theme before a long standing human base can really be designed to service on telluric bodies like Moon and Mars.

A new space technology must be developed. It will involve experts and industries not already active in space but more acquainted with catching and processing of water products. This involvement shall need first that scientific data, geological and mineral details be precised on sites of higher interest. Water presence in moon crater, likely coming from impacts, has been noticed by a single short mission LCROSS from NASA. Consolidation is to be performed by future missions. Ice presence on Mars is noted on polar caps; it is permitted to believe that permafrost or caves in sedimentary rocks could also be visited by powerful robotic means before affordability of a human base is securely resumed.

Speakers for this Topic about Water presence in the Solar System are all experts in this matter. They are personally involved into water search of presence or mining and  processing techniques for eventual water use. They belong to various entities:

  • Science research Institutes associated with exploratory space missions
  • Space Agencies conducting Space Science and Exploratory missions
  • Industrial companies involved in space missions imlementation including future manned exploration
  • Associations aiming at space exploration promotion towards students and within the younger audience.

Conference organized by the Air & Space Academy with the support of :