BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 18 September, 2002, 18:53 GMT 19:53 UK
The Grand Prix of space missions
Launch, Esa
Ferrari and Mars Express: World and Solar System champions?

Ferrari has proved itself to be the best racing team on Earth and now it is headed for Mars.

A blob of the mark's famous red paint sealed inside a tiny glass globe is to travel to the fourth planet on Europe's Mars Express mission.

The paint sample (c. European Space Agency)
The special paint sample
It was placed on board at a formal ceremony here in Toulouse, France, after being declared "space qualified".

"Long life to Ferrari and long life to Mars Express and the scientific programme of the European Space Agency (Esa)," said Jean-Louis Marce, director-general of Intespace, the company that tested and cleared the paint for flight.

The link with Ferrari marks a new move by Esa to get more Europeans interested in space.

David Southwood, the director of science at Esa, said Europe would be going to nine celestial bodies in the next decade. "This is a serious programme and Mars will open the door," he said.

Achieve the best

Mars Express is due to be launched next May and should arrive at its destination in time for Christmas 2003.

It will speed to Mars at 10,800 kilometres per hour (6,700 miles per hour), much faster than anything seen at a Grand Prix.

Ferrari agreed to the idea in response to a proposal by Esa.

Space promotions
1998: Cosmonauts on Mir advertise products on a shopping channel
2000: Pizza Hut advertises on a Russian rocket
2001: Cosmonauts on the International Space Station place an advert for Kodak on the outside of the platform
Director-general of the agency, Antonio Rodota, said it was an entirely non-commercial tie-up. He said there was symbolic value in joining the red paint of Ferrari with the Red Planet.

"To achieve the best results in space and in a race, we have to use the best technology in the world," he added.

This venture by Esa into space marketing follows moves by the Russian space agency that include hosting ads for photographic company Kodak on the International Space Station and putting a Pizza Hut ad on the side of a rocket.

Some scientists, though, are uneasy about what they see as the over-commercialisation of space missions.

Mark Williamson, an independent space technology consultant, says it seems like a bit of a gimmick.

"There's no logical reason why you should space qualify paint for Ferrari (cars)," he said.

But he thinks the idea of private companies getting involved in space missions is a good one.

Ads for aliens

Dr Steve Miller, a planetary scientist at University College, London, UK, agrees.


Logos on rockets and a bit of press and publicity are one thing. The limit is if it starts getting in the way of scientific work

Dr Martin Barstow
A case in point is Beagle-2, the British-built lander that will be dropped on to the Martian surface by Mars Express.

Team leader Professor Colin Pillinger says they need to pay back money they borrowed in order to meet their schedule for producing the space craft.

He says they are careful to avoid unethical advertising or anything that would reduce resources available for the mission's science.

"We certainly would draw the line on Beagle on doing anything such as sticking up a placard for advertising's sake," he told BBC News Online.

Night sky

It is a question of where you draw the line, says Dr Martin Barstow of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester in central England.

"Advertising is okay as long as it doesn't get out of hand," he told BBC News Online.

Cosmonaut Yuri Usachov takes a pizza delivery
"Logos on rockets and a bit of press and publicity is one thing. The limit is if it starts getting in the way of scientific work.

"Space exploration is about scientific curiosity - we don't want where we go in space taken out of our hands by advertising."

He balks at the idea of space literally being used as a huge billboard.

"To unfurl some kind of giant advertising hoarding in space is on the edge of being technically feasible," he said.

"It's a terrible idea and would pollute the night sky for astronomers and everyone else."

Soft drink giants Coca Cola and Pepsi were recently criticised over the painting of their logos on Himalayan rocks.

It looks like any attempts by companies to use space as a canvas would face similar controversy.

See also:

16 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
08 Feb 98 | Science/Nature
11 Jul 00 | Europe
22 Aug 02 | Business
25 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
23 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
05 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
22 May 01 | Americas
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes