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ESA fostering the next generation of Earth scientists

ESA has launched a new initiative – the Changing Earth Science Network – to support young scientists undertaking leading-edge research activities aimed at advancing our understanding of the Earth System.

Although the Earth has undergone significant changes in the past, there is mounting evidence that the changes imposed, mostly by human activity, during the last 150 years cannot be compared with any previous change.

Realising the importance of further understanding our planet and how it may react to these recent changes, ESA drafted a new science strategy for Earth Observation (EO) in 2006 titled 'The Changing Earth'.

The strategy, drafted in collaboration with the scientific community, outlines the 25 major scientific challenges faced today in which EO may provide key contributions to better understand the interacting components of the Earth System – including water, atmosphere and land.

The new Changing Earth Science Network initiative will allow young postdoctoral researchers to address these scientific challenges by maximising the use of EO satellite data from ESA and its Third Party Missions.

The initiative will support young scientists starting their career in the area of Earth Science for a period of two years to undertake innovative research projects specifically addressing these key scientific challenges. By providing this opportunity, ESA will support the next generation of Earth scientists to enhance our knowledge of the Earth System while maximising the scientific return of ESA EO data.

The initiative aims to foster the development of a highly dynamic network of young scientist in Europe with a good knowledge of the Agency and its EO programmes. To this end, selected candidates will have the option to carry out part of their research in an ESA centre as a visiting scientist.

The first call for proposals will be issued today. From the proposals received, ESA will select up to 10 postdoctoral scientists from the Agency’s Member States that put forward innovative research projects where ESA data may contribute to better understanding our planet.

The deadline for the proposal submission is 16 January 2009. Selections will be announced in early 2009.

Incorporating the scientific community

Since their advent, satellite missions have become central to monitoring and learning about how the Earth works, resulting in significant progress in a broad range of scientific areas.

In the mid-1990s, ESA set up its Living Planet Programme and began working in close cooperation with the scientific community to define, develop and operate focused satellite missions.

Based on the 25 major scientific challenges identified in 2006, ESA is now reinforcing this strategy. In 2008, the Support to Science Element (STSE) was launched to provide support to future and on-going missions by taking a proactive role in the formulation of new mission concepts and providing multi-mission support to science.

The Changing Earth Science Network was developed as one of the main programmatic components of STSE. To learn more about this research opportunity, please visit

Mariangela D'Acunto | alfa
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