Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cosmic Vision 2015-2025: ready to launch

27.02.2007
Within a few weeks, ESA will invite the scientific community to propose the first missions for Cosmic Vision 2015-2025. The first medium-class mission should be launched in the 2016-2017 timeframe at the latest. The first large mission is targeted to launch in autumn 2018.

The European desire to perform space science is stronger than ever. The recent consultative exercise led by the Agency's Space Science Advisory Committee showed this clearly.

The call to the community for science themes led to a rich diversity of destinations being presented: from the icy moons of the outer solar system to the traditional planets, the asteroids and comets, and of course the Solar System's fiery heart, the Sun. Similarly, there is no end of exciting ways to view the more distant Universe. Searching for Earth-like worlds, charting the formation of stars and peering into the hearts of violent galaxies, are all at the top of the astronomical agenda.

There is so much good science that can be done. "The hardest thing in the world is going to be choosing between the various missions," says Professor David Southwood, ESA's Director of Science.

To remain successful, ESA must work within a tight budget. That is a challenge because scientific missions by their very nature always try to do things that have never been done before.

Recently, a better understanding of the technical challenges faced by two missions has tested ESA Science. Both Solar Orbiter and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) are proving more demanding than even their original assessments suggested. So the prospective cost of the missions has risen.

Cancelling a mission would be a drastic solution but would hardly advance science. Thankfully, there is another way. "By shuffling the missions and looking for partnerships, we have a route to performing everything we have committed to," says Southwood. The shuffle will give the project teams more opportunities to make these missions successful.

For Solar Orbiter, there is a natural fit with NASA's Solar Sentinels programme. By joining forces, the projects can become a strong co-ordinated mission in the tradition of previous collaborations such as Ulysses and SOHO. Negotiations with NASA are going well. Solar Orbiter will be cost-capped at 300M€ and is scheduled for launch in mid-2015.

For LISA, the extra time needed for technical development and implementation of the present pre-cursor Pathfinder mission means that it must move from Cosmic Vision 2005-2015 and become a contender for the first large mission in Cosmic Vision 2015-2025. At the same time, the move could open up more money for the project.

These steps come at an unprecedented time of success for ESA Science. More missions are flying than ever before: Mars Express, Venus Express, CoRoT, Cassini, HST, SOHO, Cluster, Double Star, Ulysses, XMM-Newton, Integral, Rosetta, Hinode, Akari. More are on the way: Herschel and Planck will launch in July 2008, followed by LISA Pathfinder, Gaia and JWST.

Keeping all these operational is expensive and cannot be sustained in the long run. "We have to face financial reality and come down smoothly from this peak of activity," says Southwood, "To do otherwise would not only mean delaying the start of Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 but also lead to a crunch because we are not building spacecraft fast enough to replace them." As operations scale down naturally, they will save 60 M€. To further keep the programme on schedule, there will be internal savings of 20M€ within the Science Directorate, although these will not come from the science projects themselves.

"In the last ten years, we have developed faster and better ways of doing things. By using all that we have learned, we will be able to face financial reality and perform the world-leading science ESA is known for," says Southwood.

ESA Media Relations Office | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM1I0CE8YE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Midwife and signpost for photons
11.12.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht New research identifies how 3-D printed metals can be both strong and ductile
11.12.2017 | University of Birmingham

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: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>