The first Wednesday of the Alpbach Summer School has included a selection of lectures from ESA, DLR and the Universities of Vienna and Leicester. Subjects included what we can learn from meteorites, mission design and analysis, why we need to bring samples back to Earth and navigation before and during landings on small bodies.
One of the big highlights of the day was a motivational talk before lunch from Jan Wörner, the current Director General of ESA. He spoke about ESA’s various divisions, future interactions between ESA and commercial entities and lunar exploration. The most inspiring part of his speech though was when he reinforced that my generation will make up the next batch of space leaders, with those at the Alpbach Summer School being particularly strong candidates.
The day’s lectures were very interesting and the wide range of topics gave us plenty to think about before we split into our teams at 17:00 to continue work on defining the science cases for our missions. A strong science case is fundamental to a mission, as it defines not only the target body, but also the types and resolutions of all the measurements to be taken there. Therefore it is key to define the science goals and requirements as quickly and in as much depth as possible so that these can then be translated into system requirements. Work on this will continue tomorrow after lectures on re-entry, information from samples, and the challenges of sample return.