Dr. Ir. Vladimir Pletser's lecture to Metropolitan College in Thessaloniki
“Is life on Mars possible?”. This was the question that Dr. Ir. Vladimir Pletser, an astronaut candidate from Belgium, attempted to answer and decode at the lecture organized by the Faculty of Architecture, Engineering & the Built Environment in Thessaloniki. Hundreds of people attended the lecture which was held at Capsis Hotel. Dr. Pletser, who participated in the 1st and 2nd international simulation of manned mission to Mars described the extreme conditions he faced and shared data from his scientific and research work in microgravity conditions.
Giving an exciting speech, the World Record owner for his participation in 14 different airbus types designed for parabolic flights in microgravity conditions, analyzed humanity's and techology's common future regarding the probability of Mars colonization.
The Director of Metropolitan College in Thessaloniki, Mr Evaggelos Kontaxakis, opened the lecture refering to the need of attracting more people, and especially the young ones, to new technologies and exact sciences culture, as well as encourage them into the innovating way of thinking. «Metropolitan College wishes to educate young people in an active way which will lead to the connection of the academic environment with the job market and the professionals».
Undoubtedly, one of Dr. Pletser's lecture most interesting part was the description of his experience and personal battle during the period he was recruited to live under microgravity conditions by the European Space Agency (ESA) where he got the opportunity to come in contact with an exciting research field: parabolic flights and microgravity experiments. Mentioning the manned missions to Mars, he predicts that they will take place over the next fifteen years: "Despite the enormous progress of the space technology, send humans to planet Mars στον Άρη remains a complex and extremely difficult task. We have to organize automatic preparation missions along with all the required technologies in order to collect as much information as we can regarding Mars' atmosphere, surface and mineral wealth".
Finally, addressing to the young audience, he advised: "Stay open to new opportunities and don’t persist in decisions you have made in the past years for your professional life. We, the engineers, have a duty to the future generations to make our planet a pure and resourceful place. Open up new horizons, always respecting the Earth".
The lecture translated Dr. Nicolaos Divinis, Aerospace Engineer, Head of the MEng Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing Technology department of Metropolitan College in Thessaloniki.