NASA is getting ready for a manned mission to Mars. Greek Astrophysicist Thanasis Economou, explained to an audience at the University of Chicago, on Saturday, the plans associated with the mission.
The Greek Astrophysicist, who, since the mid 1960s has been building instruments for interplanetary spacecrafts for various space agencies, like NASA and ESA, was in Cyprus this week at the invitation of the Troodos Development Company and the community of Agridia in Limassol, Cyprus to give them guidelines regarding their plans to construct a sky observatory in the Troodos mountains area.
In statements to CNA, the scientist referred to the plans for manned missions to Mars, noting that NASA needs to further develop its technologies before sending astronauts to the red planet.
Economou said that NASA wants to send the first person to Mars in under 20 years, sometime in the 2030s.
When asked about the sky observatory in Cyprus, he said that he was asked to contribute to the idea and referred to the numerous benefits of such an observatory, especially for the youth.
“It is a very good idea and I promise to do everything I can so that there is a sky observatory in Cyprus, because this is an important project for many reasons, in particular for children’s education, who will become the future scientists and will be able to help their country,” he said.
He expressed satisfaction with the fact that the idea was welcomed by the government and President Nicos Anastasiades, saying “I hope that the idea will soon become a reality.”
Asked if NASA will be involved in the sky observatory, he said that the observatory is a local initiative but he pointed out that some observations made there could be used by NASA as well.
Economou said that the European Space Agency could show interest in the sky observatory since Cyprus is planning a future accession.
The Greek scientist has received an award from NASA for his long-time contribution to space research.
He is associated with three robotic interplanetary missions: the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Cassini mission to Saturn, and the Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. He also participated in the now-complete Stardust mission to Comet Wild-2, and its redirected mission as Stardust-NExT to Comet Tempel 1. Economou also built the Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer that successfully performed the first chemical analysis of martian rocks aboard the Mars Pathfinder rover in 1997.
CNA has learned that on July 6 this year Cyprus will sign the Cyprus European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA).