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STEM Learning, ESA and the UK Space Agency celebrate the exploration of Mars with a spectacular programme of events led by ESERO-UK

ESERO-UK, a programme funded by STEM Learning, ESA and the UK Space Agency, will deliver a spectacular programme of events for young people and everyone across the globe to celebrate the exploration of Mars on Mars Day (14 March 2022) – including ESA’s ExoMars programme, the Rosalind Franklin Rover mission final preparation months, NASA’s Perseverance Rover and the search for evidence of life on Mars.

National and international space VIPs will be talking to over 120,000 young people already signed up for the event. Mars Day 22 will offer a full programme of activities, live-streamed talks, and school sessions to engage young people, teachers and the public everywhere.

Dallas Campbell and Dr Suzie Imber will be heading up Mission Control from Space Park Leicester alongside a team led by the lead systems engineer, Paul Meacham presenting live from the Airbus Mars Yard where the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover was built.

Lift off will begin with two engaging sessions from the UK Space Agency and ESA updating on their space exploration programmes and missions. Sue Horne and Susan Buckle will talk about the UK’s involvement in exciting Mars missions, while Dr David Parker will share the news on the ESA’s exploration programme progress. Highlight of the morning will be the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin team tuning in live from Turin, Italy, at the ExoMars Rover Operation Control Centre.

The next four sessions will focus on careers and the link between STEM and space covering Science in Space, Technology in Space, Engineering in Space and Maths in Space. Each session will feature a lead speaker as a subject ‘Patron’, with a panel of STEM Ambassadors and industry professionals working in space projects across the vast UK space industry joining in for discussions.

Two Mars exploration legends – Dr Jim Green, former NASA Chief Scientist and Professor David Southwood CBE, will close off the afternoon live sessions by covering the history and achievements of Mars exploration right up to the current missions.

Dr Jorge Vago, ExoMars 2022 Project Scientist will open the evening sessions by looking in depth into the question of ‘was there ever life on Mars’. UK top scientists involved in NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will then come together and give an update on the mission, discoveries over the last year with Perseverance and the search for evidence of life on Mars.

The European and UK space teams will then be joined on the day by NASA’s Sophia Mitchell, Lead Systems Engineer and Perseverance sample collector, and Keri Bean, Curiosity deputy lead rover driver and pilot of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. They will tune in from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, US to talk about the Perseverance mission and the intricacies of operating space technology from here on Earth.

See the full speaker programme for the day here.

Alex Brown, STEM Support Programme Manager at STEM Learning and ESERO-UK, said:

“Mars Day is shaping up to be an amazing event this year, and we are excited to see so many young people signed up already. By bringing together space industry scientists and professionals, STEM Ambassadors, teachers and young people, we aim to inspire the next generation to consider a career in STEM and the space industry.”

“ESA is leading Europe’s voyage of discovery into the Solar System” said David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA. “Our astronauts are working aboard the International Space Station. We are building humanity’s most distant outpost – the lunar Gateway. And we are sending robots to explore Mars, including the Rosalind Franklin rover which launches in September this year to search for ancient life”.

“We want to attract the brightest and the best to join the future workforce that will turn Europe’s space ambitions into reality – and that starts with a good education. Space exploration is only one of the challenges facing the next generation – but whether they eventually pursue careers in medicine, sustainable energy or recycling technology, we hope that the inspiration of how we work to meet big challenges such as sending a rover to Mars really shows how engineering and science matters in our everyday life.”

Jeremy Curtis, Head of Education and Skills at the UK Space Agency, said:

“Mars Day is a fantastic opportunity for young people to engage with real space experts, ask questions and discover future careers. The UK is playing a leading role in Mars exploration during a truly exciting time for missions of discovery into our solar system. The Rosalind Franklin Rover was built by Airbus in Stevenage, where the team is now developing a follow-up Sample Fetch Rover for the joint NASA/ESA mission. Our participation in these huge collaborative missions relies on a diverse range of skilled workers, including engineers and scientists, but also many others – this is why we support Mars Day in partnership with ESERO-UK.”

During Mars Day 22, young people will discover the variety of ways to participate in space missions here on Earth, hear about the panellists’ journeys from studying STEM subjects to becoming a member of a thriving UK space industry, and get inspired by the contribution being made to international space exploration.

As part of the Mars Day 22 mission, schools are invited to host space activities in classrooms alongside fellow schools nationwide for Mars Hour 22. This year’s Mars Day 22 is being extended with Mars Week 22 (14 – 20 March 2022) offering a range of live and virtual Mars-themed events for schools and the public. The events will range from university lectures and workshops at science centres, to visits to UK space industry facilities and virtual trips to space agencies.

To find out more about Mars Day 22, visit Full programme of Mars Day 22 sessions can be downloaded here.

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