Francesca Esposito STAFF RESEARCHER


I am currently working on the ExoMars project. The ExoMars project is a project led by the European Space Agency and the Russian Space agency that is aimed at the exploration of Mars. The scientific aims of this mission are to find extant or extinct signs of life, to search for water, to understand the environment on Mars during particular periods, such as dust storms, to prepare for human exploration on Mars.


My passion for space and astronomy in general began very, very early when I was eight-ten years old because I was very fascinated by the idea that other worlds exist in the universe. This passion grew over the years and when I was at secondary school I started to study astronomy and I also bought a little telescope to study the structure of the universe such as galaxies and nebula, the moon and sunspots and so on. And so I definitely decided to study physics and astrophysics at university. At first, my family said I am crazy, that it wasn't a real job. But then they realised it was my passion, so they encouraged me to continue these kinds of studies.


The ExoMars' mission has scheduled two launches one in 2016 when an orbiter and a lander will arrive on Mars. And one in 2018, where it will land a surface platform with a rover that will move on the surface of Mars. The objectives of the 2016 mission are to observe the atmosphere on Mars searching for trace gases present in the atmosphere on Mars in very small percentages. These are very important, in particular one of them, methane, is very important to monitor, because on Earth, methane is also generated by living organisms. So monitoring the sources of methane on Mars can help search for new sites to land and search for life. The EDM, the lander that will land in 2016, has on board the instrument, "Dreams", that I'm working on. And this instrument is a meteorological station that is particularly aimed at understanding the environment on Mars during the particular duststorm season.

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© Eva Parey