Europe's Lunar Exploration Programme - 10.00am IST - June 29th 2021         

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Europe is going to the moon! In light of future exploration plans, the UCD Centre for Space Research [C-Space] will examine our nearest neighbour through the eyes of several international experts.

This zoom workshop will raise awareness of Europe’s activities and plans, addressing the motivations, challenges and opportunities presented by lunar exploration. The topics will cover engineering, medicine, manufacturing, physics, astronomy, geology and industry applications.



All times in Irish Summer Time (GMT +1)

10.00 – Welcome - Prof Lorraine Hanlon, Director of UCD Centre for Space Research

10.05 – Prof Athena Coustenis, Paris Observatory, France, "The European Space Agency program on lunar exploration" 

10:35 – Prof Marc Klein-Wolt, Radboud University, Netherlands, "The Astronomical Lunar Observatory (ALO) - Probing the cosmological Dark Ages and Cosmic Dawn with a distributed low-frequency radio array on the Lunar Far Side"

11:05 – Coffee break

11:25 – Dr Aidan Cowley, European Astronaut Centre, Cologne, "Utilising the Lunar in-situ Resources for Sustainable Exploration"

11:55 – Prof Suzie Imber, University of Leicester, UK, "The Human side of Lunar Exploration" 

12:25 – Panel Discussion + questions from the floor

12:55 – End

Each speaker will have 5 mins for questions after their contribution and the event concludes with a panel discussion.

The workshop will be hosted by space journalist Leo Enright.

Register via this link


Abstracts and Biographies

The European Space Agency program on lunar exploration

Athena Coustenis - LESIA, Paris Observatory, Paris Science Letters Univ., CNRS, Meudon, France

Abstract: The European Space Agency (ESA) has a very robust and ambitious Human and Robotic Exploration program of the solar system, from the Low Earth Orbit with ISS all the way to Mars (with Mars Express, ExoMars and the Mars Sample Return program for instance). In between, Europe will also significantly contribute to this decade’s return to the Moon with robots and humans. Indeed, ESA’s plans foresee autonomous capabilities and European astronauts on the Moon by 2030. Elements such as the contributions to the Gateway and the Orion European Service Module will be of the outmost importance also to pave the way for this endeavour. In the next decade, ESA-led capabilities for the Moon will provide new scientific knowledge and explore space resources via the cis-lunar transfer vehicle, European Large Lunar Lander (EL3), the Moonlight project and other trailblazing international collaborations, including with commercial partners. This will help build European talents, industrial competences, and establish the European identity and strategic autonomy in space.

I will present the ESA space program goals for lunar exploration within the international context. I will also discuss the COSPAR Planetary Protection related Policy.

Athena Coustenis is Director of Research with the French Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at Paris Observatory, specializing in Astrophysics and Planetology. She contributes to the development of space missions and analyzes the acquired data to investigate the atmospheres and surfaces of planets, satellites and exoplanets (examples are the Cassini-Huygens mission and the upcoming JUICE and ARIEL missions). She has more extensively studied the large Saturnian moon, Titan and the Galilean satellites. She is currently the Chair of the European Space Agency’s Human spaceflight and Exploration Science Advisory Committee (ESA-HESAC), of the COSPAR Panel on Planetary Protection and of the Science evaluation committee of the French National Center for Space Studies (CNES-CERES). She is a member of several other international advisory bodies (with NASA, ESA, NASEM, etc). Her production record includes about 250 scientific articles, several books or chapters and 700 presentations. 



The Astronomical Lunar Observatory (ALO) - Probing the cosmological Dark Ages and Cosmic Dawn with a distributed low-frequency radio array on the Lunar Far Side

Klein Wolt - Radboud Radio Lab (RRL), University of Nijmegen 

Abstract: As part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) plans for future Lunar human and scientific exploration, a program referred to as the European Large Logistics Lander, a coordinated design effort has started (an ESA Topical Team) for a dedicated Lunar Far Side Radio astronomy observatory. The Moon offers unique opportunities for studying the very early universe, the period before the first starts were born, referred to as the Dark Ages and Cosmic Dawn. The neutral Hydrogen emission is the only direct source of information and can be detected and imaged by a large low-frequency radio array on the Lunar Far Side. This will shed light on the formation history of the pristine Universe like never before.

Marc Klein Wolt is the Managing Director and co-founder of the Radboud Radio Lab (RRL) of the Radboud University Nijmegen, and assistant professor at the department of Astrophysics. The Radboud Radio Lab, aims at developing instrumentation for space- and ground-based astronomy, and projects are started in close collaboration with research institutes and industry partners with a strong focus on technological Innovation. Dr. Klein Wolt is the Project Director of the Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT) in Namibia which will be realised to become part of the global Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) network. In addition, Dr. Klein Wolt is the Dept. PI of the radio astronomy payload (NCLE) for the Chinese Lunar Chang’e 4 mission, the only space-based radio observatory for low-frequency radio astronomical research. Dr. Klein Wolt is the co-director for the virtual Center for Astronomical Instrumentation (CAI), an innovation initiative between the Radboud University and the Technical University of Eindhoven. Finally, Dr. Klein Wolt is the coordinator for the Astronomical Lunar Observatory Topical Team, an ESA led design activity for a dedicated low-frequency radio astronomy mission to the Lunar far side as part of the ESA EL3 Lunar program. For a complete overview of all the projects in the Radboud Radio Lab, see


Utilising the Lunar in-situ Resources for Sustainable Exploration 

Dr Aidan Cowley - European Astronaut Centre, ESA 

Abstract: Agencies are actively planning missions to the Lunar surface, and ultimately Mars, as part of an expanding programme of exploration. In this context, the need to improve mission sustainability is clear, owing to the logistical constraints originating from dependency on re-supply and support solely from Earth. The concept of using locally sourced planetary surface resources, known colloquially as in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU), has long been proposed as a means to achieving reduced launch mass costs and enable mission sustainability. Production of critical mission products, such as fuel and oxygen, as well as constructing critical surface infrastructure such as landing surfaces and radiation shields, have all been proposed and are now increasingly being further developed and advanced in terms of technology readiness. In this talk, an overview of ISRU as it applies to the Lunar environment is presented, and some key technology developments under way in Europe are presented. 

  Aidan Cowley received his B.Sc in Computer Applications and M.Eng in Electronic Systems from Dublin City University, Ireland, in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and a PhD in 2011. Subsequently he went on to work as a researcher and lecturer at the National Centre for Plasma Science and Technology (NCPST), Dublin City University, Ireland. There, his research activities included novel optoelectronic materials, thermoelectrics, plasma processes and metrology as well as renewable energy systems. In 2014, Dr. Cowley joined the European Space Agency as a Research Fellow, stationed at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. There he conducted research into energy generation and storage solutions for future lunar and cis-lunar missions, in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) as well as investigating disruptive technologies such as additive manufacturing and their potential as an exploration enabling technology. He has since joined ESA as a Science Advisor, supporting the Astronaut Centre and ExPeRT (Exploration Preparation, Research and Technology) team of ESA in preparing for future human spaceflight and exploration activities.  


The Human side of Lunar Exploration

Suzie Imber - University of Leicester 

Abstract: This talk will focus on the astronaut side of lunar exploration, discussing what kinds of people become astronauts, ESA's latest astronaut call and ESA's role in the Artemis programme, the particular challenges for humans on the moon, and some of the history of human space exploration.
Dr Suzanne Imber is an Associate Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Leicester. She specialises in studying space weather; understanding the impact of the solar wind on the magnetised planets, in particular the Earth and Mercury. Suzie is a Co-Investigator on the X-ray spectrometer on board the joint ESA/JAXA BepiColombo spacecraft launched in October 2018 and arriving at Mercury in 2025.
Suzie was also the winner of the recent BBC 2 series entitled ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What it Takes?’ during which twelve candidates were put through astronaut training with NASA astronaut Chris Hadfield. She endured challenges such as taking her own blood, speaking Russian while in a centrifuge at 5g and carrying out emergency procedures on the NASA undersea astronaut training facility, Aquarius. Suzie will receive a letter of recommendation from Chris Hadfield to support her application to the European Space Agency astronaut training programme. 
Suzie was an England U21 lacrosse player, an elite rower, and is now a high-altitude mountaineer. She has written computer code to automatically identify mountains in South America, and found hundreds of mountains that had never been identified before. She sets off annually to scale these incredibly remote, unclimbed mountains, exploring new regions of our planet and even discovering Incan ruins on the summits.

Main Image courtesy of ESA