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Returning from the IPPW-5

Updated Monday, 9th July 2007

Andrew Morris reports on IPPW-5, the international interplanetary workshop.

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The Exomars Rover Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: ESA - AOES Medialab The Exomars Rover Well that was a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen the previous post about getting ready for the Interplanetary Probe Workshop (IPPW) I should just go back over the basics.

The IPPW is an annual conference where a diverse range of people (people who model atmospheres, people who build spacecraft, people who make entry and descent capsules, communication specialists, etc.) get together and present their work to one another so everyone has a good understanding of the advancements within each field. Since space science involves so many branches of specialities it really is important everyone has a decent grasp on what everyone else is up to.

The beginning of my stay in Bordeaux (where the conference was being held) began with a short course in interplanetary probes. This was separate from the main conference and began two days before to allow the attendees of the short course (mostly students) to learn more of the field and gain a little experience. This is quite common for large conferences since it is the perfect opportunity for people to learn the basics of one another’s field but invaluable for later in the week.

The knowledge gained over this short time can prove the difference between taking something significant from a later talk or being completely oblivious as important points sail over your head. The last portion of the short course involved designing a space mission for a (Solar system) target of your choice. The team I was in went for a Titan (largest moon of Saturn) mission to follow up the successful Huygens lander. After sorting out the payload and the mechanics of how we were going to stop the probe from burning up as it entered the alien world we presented it to the group. All seemed to go well with only a couple of hick ups, bringing the short course to a close.

The next day the number of delegates tripled to about 150 for the conference proper. The rest of the week was then full of presentations with which some fantastic, innovative and really interesting ideas were put forward. There were some presentations that I did not find too gripping but that is to be expected with such a diverse range of topics being discussed.

I presented my poster at the end of the first day and was able to share my own research with the other delegates. I didn't have too much trouble answering the questions about my work and I got to talk to people which could go on to help me. This is one of the most important aspects of conferences since institutions in space science are scattered across the world. Getting together and having a proper face to face chat can get a lot done. All in all a well worth while conference with enough to keep me busy as I chase up some of the avenues now open to me. The city of Bordeaux was also extremely pleasant with it obtaining world heritage status on the last day of the conference (deservedly so).

P.S. The wine was very, very good.

 

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