Space samples return: Prof. Javier Martín-Torres and Prof. María Paz Zorzano to participate in Misasa VII symposium

Professor Javier Martín-Torres and Professor María Paz Zorzano, from the Group of Atmospheric Science, have been invited to participate in the Misasa International Symposium 2018 (Misasa VII), which will take place at Tottori, Japan, between 19th and 21st December. It is organised by the Institute for Planetary Materials of the Okayama University, and the central subject this year is “Sample return and Astrobiology”.

The focus of the symposium is the research on extra-terrestrial samples gathered not only on Earth (meteorites), but from other bodies of the Solar System. There is an increasing interest on sample return missions, both from asteroids such as the past successful JAXA Hayabusa mission and the on-going Hayabusa 2 missions, as from Mars, where the NASA’s 2020 rover will prepare a collection of samples to be eventually returned to Earth by ESA. Right now, the NASA OSIRIS-Rex mission is exploring the asteroid Bennu and will bring to Earth the largest sample returned from space since the Apollo era. The JAXA Martian Moons eXplorer (MMX) mission will travel to Mars and survey Phobos and Deimos.

The spacecraft will explore both Martian moons and collect a sample from one of the moons to bring back to Earth. Other agencies are also planning for sample return from the near side of the Moon in the near future, such as China, with Chang’e 5 for 2019.

This symposium is aimed at providing a frame for the studies to be carried out on those samples, in order to go into depth in the origin, evolution, and dynamics of the Earth and the Solar System itself, paying special attention to the astrobiological aspects of the investigations to be developed from a geochemical and geochronological point of view. The meeting is posed as an international forum to gather together scientists from all over the world and with different backgrounds to maintain an enriching discussion about the related topics within the field, and to trace the guidelines for the future advance in the research to be done. Besides serving as a space in which establishing fruitful discussion, the event has been organized with the wish of fostering further collaborations among the participants.

Professor María Paz Zorzano and Prof. Javier Martin-Torres will participate as keynote speakers, in the session Planet and satellite: Extraterestrial Material. Other sessions will deal about, Life and Astrobiology, Hayabusa 2: Results and Future Plans and Organic Rich Bodies: Asteroids and Comets.