The theme of this year’s World Space Week is: “Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth,” and as part of the celebrations, the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) and jewelry-maker Swarovski teamed up to create the first ever crystals made of Earth rocks and a Mars meteorite.

During the biggest World Space Week event, the Mars Simulation mission, the Austrian Space Forum announced the opportunity to be part of this unique project. The OeWF is inviting people around the world to collect rocks from their places of origin, and send them to the Forum’s office, specifying the coordinates and including a picture from the location where the object was collected. The rocks must be at the offices of the OeWF in Innsbruck, Austria, by November 15.

The rocks will be mixed all together to create one “Earth master sample” to be later mixed with a Mars meteorite, to create a unique product: a special edition batch of 5mm Swarovski crystals. These special crystals will then be redistributed around the world to decision-makers and space institutions to increase awareness of space exploration and outreach.

The Mars meteorite that will be used for the creation of these crystals is a small part of a meteorite found in Morocco in 2007. This is the first time that a part of Earth and a part of Mars will be mixed, and involvement in the opportunity is open to everyone.

We asked the leader of this project, Gernot Groemer, for the reason behind this undertaking. “For most people participating in the ’Earth master sample,’ it will be the only time in their life that they are taking geological samples,” he said, not to mention associating geological pursuits with space exploration. “We hope some of them, especially the young people, will be in the position to say: ‘wow, this is so cool, maybe it is easy to do, but I will ask my teacher about geological sampling on other worlds!’ And maybe with this, we set the first path of future explorers for Mars as well.”

The Executive Director of World Space Week Association, Remco Timmermans, indicated that young people aren’t the only ones they’d like to influence: “By demonstrating support for this campaign, we can show decision makers that Mars exploration is something that humanity – across all borders and cultural divides – really wants to achieve.”

One of the activities in which future Martian explorers will certainly engage is geological recognition and geological research; this activity is about mimicking Mars exploration here on Earth. Scientists around the world study geology to be applied on the red planet, and some of the Mars analog locations do this kind of sampling during their missions. The Austrian Space Forum is running a Mars Analog in collaboration with the Mars Desert Research Station as one of the activities of this World Space Week 2013.

Don’t let this opportunity pass, be part of this exciting project: Two worlds, one crystal!

On to Mars and Beyond!

For instructions on how to participate in the Earth Master Sample, visit http://www.oewf.org/cms/earth-master-sample.phtml

Image caption: Two worlds, one crystal (Credits: OEWF/Paul Santek).

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Carmen Felix

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Carmen Felix is a Mexican space professional with a Master in Space Science from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, and a BS. in Electronics and Communications from the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico. She is the Deputy Manager for the Space Safety Magazine and the National Point of Contact in Mexico for Space Generation. She is driven by space exploration and human spaceflight. She has experience in Telecommunication industry, satellite technology and space analogs.