Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

European Space Agency chooses three scientific missions for further study

Date:
February 22, 2010
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
Dark energy, habitable planets around other stars, and the mysterious nature of our own Sun, have been chosen by the European Space Agency as candidates for two medium-class missions to be launched no earlier than 2017.

The ESA has selected candidates for two medium-class missions to be launched no earlier than 2017.
Credit: ESA

Dark energy, habitable planets around other stars, and the mysterious nature of our own Sun, have been chosen by ESA as candidates for two medium-class missions to be launched no earlier than 2017.

Related Articles


On Thursday 18 February, ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC) approved three missions to enter the so-called definition phase. This is the next step required before the final decision is taken as to which missions are implemented. The three proposals chosen to proceed are Euclid, PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO), and Solar Orbiter.

Euclid would address key questions relevant to fundamental physics and cosmology, namely the nature of the mysterious dark energy and dark matter. Astronomers are now convinced that these substances dominate ordinary matter. Euclid would map the distribution of galaxies to reveal the underlying 'dark' architecture of the Universe.

The PLATO mission would address one of the most timely and long-standing questions in science, namely the frequency of planets around other stars. This would include terrestrial planets in a star's habitable zone, so-called Earth-analogues. In addition, PLATO would probe stellar interiors by detecting the gaseous waves rippling their surfaces.

Solar Orbiter would take the closest look at our Sun yet possible, approaching to just 62 solar radii. It would deliver images and data that include views of the Sun's polar regions and the solar far side when it is not visible from Earth.

These three missions are the finalists from 52 proposals that were either made or carried forward in 2007. They were whittled down to just six mission proposals in 2008 and sent for industrial assessment. Now that the reports from those studies are in, the missions have been pared down again. "It was a very difficult selection process. All the missions contained very strong science cases," says Lennart Nordh, Swedish National Space Board and chair of the SPC.

And the tough decisions are not yet over. Only two missions out of three of them: Euclid, PLATO and Solar Orbiter, can be selected for the M-class launch slots. All three missions present challenges that will have to be resolved at the definition phase. A specific challenge, of which the SPC was conscious, is the ability of these missions to fit within the available budget. The final decision about which missions to implement will be taken after the definition activities are completed, which is foreseen to be in mid-2011.

In addition, the SPC has decided to consider at its next meeting in June, whether to also select a European contribution to the SPICA mission.

SPICA would be an infrared space telescope led by the Japanese Space Agency JAXA. It would provide 'missing-link' infrared coverage in the region of the spectrum between that seen by the ESA-NASA Webb telescope and the ground-based ALMA telescope. SPICA would focus on the conditions for planet formation and distant young galaxies.

"These missions continue the European commitment to world-class space science," says David Southwood, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, "They demonstrate that ESA's Cosmic Vision programme is still clearly focused on addressing the most important space science."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "European Space Agency chooses three scientific missions for further study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100219102733.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2010, February 22). European Space Agency chooses three scientific missions for further study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100219102733.htm
European Space Agency. "European Space Agency chooses three scientific missions for further study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100219102733.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

NASA's Planet-Finding Kepler Mission Isn't Over After All

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) More than a year after NASA declared the Kepler spacecraft broken beyond repair, scientists have figured out how to continue getting useful data. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Evidence of Life on Mars? NASA Rover Finds Methane, Organic Chemicals

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 16, 2014) NASA's Mars Curiosity rover finds methane in the Martian atmosphere and organic chemicals in the planet's soil, the latest hint that Mars was once suitable for microbial life. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Geminids Meteor Shower Lights Up Skies in China

Geminids Meteor Shower Lights Up Skies in China

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) The Geminids meteor shower lights up the skies over the Changbai Mountains in northeast China. Duration: 01:03 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins