First Announcement: The Third International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos, subtitled The Science, Robotic Reconnaissance, and Human Exploration of the Two Moons of Mars, was the third international meeting focused on Phobos and Deimos, and on how their exploration relates to that of other small bodies, Mars, and the rest of the Solar System.
The conference was an open international forum gathering scientists, engineers, space exploration professionals and students interested in discussing the status and advancement of the exploration of Mars’ natural satellites, the investigation of other small bodies in relation to Phobos and Deimos, the exploration of Mars itself via its moons, and the importance of exploring these moons for Solar System science.
The conference was convened at a time of growing interest in the exploration of Phobos and Deimos, with several international robotic spacecraft missions and concept studies underway, in particular in Europe, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Important new scientific data relating to Phobos have also been obtained recently by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission and ESA’s Mars Express (MEX) mission.
The human exploration of Phobos and Deimos is also under serious consideration in the international context of the Global Exploration Roadmap. In the United States, the human exploration of Phobos was considered an attractive goal in the Augustine Commission’s “Flexible Path” option, and on 15 April, 2010, President Barack Obama announced: “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow...” Since then, NASA, in particular its Moons of Mars Human Exploration Architecture Team (HAT), industry, and academia have been investigating potential ways to explore Phobos and Deimos with humans, and to use the moons of Mars to pave the way or optimize future human Mars exploration.
The conference was an opportunity to
President Barack Obama examines a model of Phobos
presented to him by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.