During my interview with Stefano Menini a couple of months ago (read Stefano’s advice how to enhance travel through satellite technology here), I got so hooked that I accepted his invitation to join him at the Austrian Space Forum’s Public Day in Peuerbach, Austria the beginning of September.
This Public Day on the 3rd September 2023 was a unique opportunity to find out about the Austrian Space Forum’s 14th analog mission to Mars, called AMADEE-24. Their research simulation is set to take place in a remote region in Armenia in March/April 2024 where conditions are comparable to Mars. Ultimately, this mission aims at identifying risk factors and testing solutions for human- or tech-related challenges during Mars missions. Probably a hundred of volunteer members from all around the world, just like Stefano, contribute their knowledge, experience, money and time.
Although the Public Day took place in the tiny and remote village of Peuerbach in Lower Austria, approximately 2,000 visitors made it there – what a success!
Discovering the diversity of space missions
The crew’s dress rehersal was a highlight of this Public Day for me. Iñigo Muñoz Elorza, one of the six analog astronauts presented the prototype of their space suits. I was sincerely surprised that a whole team is required to dress an astronaut. The dressing may take up to two hours. Then, wearing a suit and moving in it is a real physical challenge due to the weight and heat inside the suit.
Moreover, I was also impressed watching some of the rovers, which will eventually gather and transport material. My skilful friend Katha, who joined us this weekend as well, bombarded the researchers and students with technical questions. Honestly, I didn’t understand much of the technical details, but had a lot of fun observing these interview moments between my friend and the presenters.
Addionally, I didn’t expect so many different professions involved in space missions. If you’re interested, you’ll learn about the different teams in this video:
Space: A different world
This Mars analog mission is a big research projects. It involves a diverse team of mostly volunteer forum members, companies and state bodies. They all dedicate a very big amount of time and effort to this project.
For me, it was the discovery of a very different world. These people are really part of something bigger. Personally, I loved meeting and exchanging with some extremely passionate and humble space experts.
Finally, I definitely look forward to hearing about the continuation of this analog Mars mission and the Austrian Space Forum’s activities!