15.08.2022 change 15.08.2022

DuqueESA astronaut to speak at European Rover Challenge in Kielce

Kielce, 11.09.2021. The rover presented as part of the European Rover Challenge on the campus of the Kielce University of Technology Credit: PAP/Piotr Polak Kielce, 11.09.2021. The rover presented as part of the European Rover Challenge on the campus of the Kielce University of Technology Credit: PAP/Piotr Polak

Pedro Duque, the first Spaniard in space, will be a special guest of the Mars robot competition European Rover Challenge (ERC 2022) in Kielce. Scientific competition and debates on September 9-11 will be accompanied by popular science attractions for visitors and a tasting of 'space dishes'.

PAP - Science in Poland is a media sponsor of the 8th edition of the international competition ERC 2022.

The organizers of ERC invite titled astronauts who have crossed the Kármán line, which is a conventional border between Earth and space. The meeting with the Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque, Spanish science and innovation minister until 2021 and earlier also responsible for higher education in Spain, will be open.

People who visit the Kielce University of Technology to watch the competition of teams on the world's largest artificial Martian track can also visit the Inspiration Zone. Four-legged robots and liquid nitrogen experiments will be presented. Volunteers can try freeze-dried food, from which water has been removed during the processing. Admission to the competition is free.

According to Maciej Myśliwiec from the ERC press office, the finalists are 'the cream of the crop from Egypt to Canada'. Of the 30 teams from 10 countries, as many as 19 teams will appear with their own rovers in Kielce to try their hand in the on-site part of the competition. The rest will remotely control a rover on the Martian track at the Kielce University of Technology using a special web interface.

Dr. Anna Łosiak, planetary geologist and chief designer of the ERC's Mars Yard said: “Every year, the ERC scientific team tries to raise the bar for the competing teams, while ensuring that the geological environment of the surface of Mars is reproduced as realistically as possible. What can the participants of the European Rover Challenge expect this year? There will certainly be a lot of smoke and erupting volcanoes.”

She added that the area over which the rovers travel is a faithfully mapped field on the border between the great volcanic province of Elysium and the northern plains of Mars. These plains were once covered by an ocean.

She continued: “So the teams should be prepared to drive a rover over terrain shaped by fire and ice. Who knows, maybe the robots will even come across a trace of water on Mars?.”

ERC participants will also have the opportunity to meet in person Dr. Gernot Groemer - Founder and Administrative Director of the Austrian Space Forum, Gianfranco Visentin - Head of the Automation and Robotics Section of the European Space Agency and Professor Grzegorz Wrochna - President of the Polish Space Agency. Invited experts also include analogue astronaut Dr. Reut Sorek Abramovich, space populariser Dr. Niamh Shaw and Dr. Illaria Cinelli, whom the Italian daily La Repubblica announced one of '100 women who will change the world'.

Dr. Adriana Marais, who is developing Africa’s first space mission to the Moon, Professor Thais Russomano, who is working on aerospace medicine, and Maria Antonietta Perino, Director of Space Economy Exploration and International Network at Thales Alenia Space will join the ERC studio during the live broadcast. They will participate in debates on future technologies and various aspects of space exploration.

In previous years, the European Rover Challenge hosted Harrison Schmitt, a NASA astronaut and member of the last mission to the Moon, and Tim Peake, an astronaut of the European Space Agency.

This year's ERC is co-organised by the European Space Foundation, the Kielce University of Technology and the Marshal's Office of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship. The event is held under the patronage of the European Space Agency, the International Astronautical Federation and the Polish Space Industry Association.

The full program of the event is available at: https://roverchallenge.eu/

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