With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for citizens interested in space exploration.
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If you feel unsettled by national politics or climate change on Earth, to the point of considering relocating to another habitable planet, there is good news for you – such places do exist.
In 2016, an international team headed by Belgian researcher Michaël Gillon, discovered a system of seven planets outside of the Solar System. Three of these planets are located in a habitable zone, around a parent star called TRAPPIST-1, within which a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. At about 40 light-years away, the system is relatively close to Earth.
A residential infrastructure and childcare facilities are still lacking, but the next decade of space exploration is set to take humans from the International Space Station (ISS) to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing a robotic landing on the Moon in partnership with Russia as early as 2022. The mission will look for water ice, opening the door to future exploitation of lunar resources and preparations to go deeper into the Solar System.
NASA’s new Orion vehicle with a European service module will help to build a deep-space gateway located in lunar orbit, a thousand times further out in space than the ISS.
The next decade will see ESA’s ExoMars rover explore the surface of the Red Planet, using its ground-penetrating radar and two metre-long drill.
Looking beyond, ESA is already working on the technologies needed to accomplish the first round-trip mission to Mars and bring back precious samples so as to advance further on one of the most ambitious exploration challenges ever.
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs website, http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/space_en
- Official website of the European Space Agency: http://www.esa.int/ESA
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