EMSTA Prestige Seminar: Mars – man or machine? Hatfield

8 November, 2017 | 18:00 - 21:30

NASA plans to put a man on Mars by 2030
NASA plans to put a man on Mars by 2030

About this event

NASA are planning to put a man on Mars by 2030 and Elon Musk's company, SpaceX, are working to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. The EMSTA 2017 seminar intends to explore the technical and human challenges of extended space travel and how to survive on Mars, a distant hostile planet.

The first speaker, Dr. Tanya Lim, will cover the ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which is currently at Mars aerobraking towards its science orbit - expected to be reached in April 2018. The 2016 mission will study trace gases in the Martian atmosphere to advance our understanding of climatology and the link between the atmosphere and surface. One aspect of the mission of particular interest is the study of the origins of methane, which potentially are biological. Tanya's talk will introduce the mission and give an update on status and early results.

The second speaker, Abbie Hutty, will describe ExoMars Rover. ExoMars is Europe's first Rover mission to Mars – a mission in search of life, past or present. Abbie Hutty, the lead Spacecraft Structures Engineer working on the rover, will describe the mission's aims and objectives, some of the major challenges and design drivers of a robotic mission to the Mars surface, and how engineers are developing new technology and software to meet those challenges.

The third speaker, Nick Spall, will discuss Man or Machine? The Issues.

  • Routes for humans to Mars: NASA's plans, Elon Musk's plans.
  • What it will do to the body? Zero-g effects, radiation dangers, disease and death mid-mission.
  • What will it do to the mind? Isolation, spacecraft confinement, distance from Earth contact and support, signal delays.
  • Surface operations and issues - dust, radiation, resource utilisation.
  • Effectiveness of human operations, and scientific results.

This evening seminar will be the nineteenth annual prestige seminar organised by EMSTA CIC as a joint event with various professional engineering and science Institutions.

This free event is hosted by the University of Hertfordshire and will commence with light refreshments and networking in an informal environment.

An essential element of the prestige seminar is the final chaired discussion when the audience can put forward their questions to the speakers.

Entry is free but advance booking is required: https://bookwhen.com/emsta
(Booking helpline: 0845 474 3341)

Registration and refreshments are from 18:00. Presentations will commence at 18:45 and conclude at 21:30.

EMSTA was formerly known as EEESTA. EMSTA, Engineering, Maths, Science, and Technology Association, is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company promoting an understanding amongst the public, and especially young people, about how Engineering, Maths, Science, and Technology are involved in important, topical issues. EMSTA organises prestige seminars, and works to enthuse young people across the UK and internationally, so that they follow exciting, rewarding and fun, engineering and technology careers: the name was changed to indicate the company's extended remit and reach.

Event materials

The following materials are available for download:


Welcoming address:

Professor John Senior, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Hertfordshire.

He joined the University of Hertfordshire as Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences in 1998. He has over 25 years of research experience in optical communications and networking, including pioneering activities concerned with optical fibre local area networks and passive optical networks.


Professor Yang Geo, Associate Dean (international), Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. Professor of Space Autonomous Systems. Head of STAR Lab, Surrey Space Centre.


Dr Tanya Lim, ESA Science Operations Department

Archive scientist for both the ExoMars 2016 and Rover Surface Platform missions. Before working on ExoMars she was the manager of the SPIRE instrument on the Herschel Space Observatory and led the internationally distributed operations team and worked as the test and calibration scientist for the instrument.

Abbie Hutty, Airbus Defence and Space Limited.

She has worked at Surrey Satellite Technologies Ltd and at Astrium, now Airbus Defence and Space. In 2012 she joined the ExoMars Rover Team, becoming Lead Spacecraft Structures Engineer for the ExoMars River Vehicle in 2014.

Nick Spall, Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.

Space & science writer, author of articles such as "Ready for Mars? From Mars-500 to zero-gravity issues". His strong leadership of the UK Human Space Flight campaign has been of the utmost importance in enhancing space education outreach in the UK and helped bring about new government funding for UK Human Space Flight, which in turn led to the highly successful Principia mission by the UK/ESA astronaut Tim Peake in 2015/2016. Nick is a keen proponent of human spaceflight as the most effective and inspirational way to explore and one day colonise the Solar System.