Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The affordable Cosmic Vision

07.11.2003


Yesterday, at its 105th meeting, ESA’s Science Programme Committee (SPC) has made important decisions concerning the Cosmic Vision programme. Due to the current financial exigencies and an outlook with no budget increase or other relief, the SPC was forced to cancel the Eddington mission and rescope the BepiColombo mission.



Eddington had two aims, both remarkable and very pertinent to front-line astronomical interests. The first aim was to look for Earth-like planets outside our solar system - one of the key goals in the search to understand how life came to be, how we came to live where we do in the universe and whether there are other potential life supporting environments ’out there’. At the same time it was going to follow on the path blazed by the ESA-NASA mission SOHO had taken with the Sun of using astroseismology to look ’inside’ stars. In the longer term, the loss of this one mission will not stop us pursuing the grand quests for which it is a step.

The loss of the BepiColombo lander is also scientifically hard to take. ESA, in conjunction with the Japanese space agency, JAXA, will still put two orbiters around Mercury but the ‘ground truth’ provided by the lander is a big loss. However, to land on a planet so near the Sun is no small matter and was a bridge too far in present circumstances, and this chance for Europe to be first has probably been lost.
The origins of the problems were recognized at the ESA Council, held in June 2003. Several sudden demands on finance occurred in the spring, the most obvious and public being the unforeseen Ariane 5 grounding in January. A loan of 100 million Euro was temporarily granted, that must be paid back out of present resources by the end of 2006.



ESA’s SPC were therefore caught in a vice. Immediate mission starts had to be severely limited and the overall envelope of the programme kept down.

By making today’s decision, the SPC has brought down the scope of the Cosmic Vision programme to a level that necessarily reflects the financial conditions rather than the ambitions of the scientific community.

A long and painful discussion during the SPC meeting resulted in the conclusion that only one new mission can be started at this time, namely LISA Pathfinder. The mission is the technical precursor to the world’s first gravitational wave astronomical observatory, LISA. The LISA mission itself (to be made in cooperation with the United States) is scheduled for launch in 2012.

ESA’s Cosmic Vision, set to last until 2012, is a living programme. It has to be able to constantly adapt to to the available funding as well as respond to the expectations of the scientific community, to technological developments. Within these boundaries, the decisions made by the SPC try to maximize the outcome of Cosmic Vision across disciplines, keeping it at the same time challenging and affordable. Nonetheless, there are many European scientists with ambitions that exceed the programme’s ability to respond.

ESA Media Relations | European Space Agency
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/SEMDVTWLDMD_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht APEX takes a glimpse into the heart of darkness
25.05.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR
24.05.2018 | Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>