Sunday, February 27, 2011

Candidates Selected For ESA's Cosmic Vision

Looking ahead to the next decade of scientific exploration, ESA selected Friday four candidates for a medium-class mission that will launch in the period 2020-22. The candidates cover very different areas of scientific research, ranging from investigations of black holes and general relativity to near-Earth asteroid sample return and studies of planets orbiting distant stars.

"There was huge interest in this flight opportunity from right across the scientific community," said Fabio Favata, Head of ESA's Science Planning and Community Coordination Office. "The competition for this launch opportunity is the strongest to date for the ESA Science Programme."

ESA issued a call to the scientific community on 29 July 2010, soliciting proposals for a third medium-class mission (M3) within the long-term science plan known as Cosmic Vision 2015-2025. A total of 47 proposals was submitted and then peer reviewed by the Advisory Structure to the Science Programme.

As a result of this review process, recommendations based on the scientific excellence of the missions were forwarded by the Space Science Advisory Committee to David Southwood, ESA's Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.

The Director has now selected four missions to undergo an initial Assessment Phase. Once this is completed, a further down-selection will be performed, leading to a decision on which mission will be finally implemented.

"This selection of medium-class mission candidates is a major milestone in the definition of ESA's future science programme," said Professor Southwood.

"All of the missions selected for the Assessment Phase promise exciting scientific breakthroughs and choosing the mission that will be implemented will be a difficult process."

The four proposals chosen to proceed for assessment are EChO, LOFT, MarcoPolo-R and STE-QUEST.

Four Candidates Selected For ESA's Cosmic Vision

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