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Exo-Planet Roadmap Advisory Team appointed by ESA

22 April 2008

An expert advisory team has been appointed by ESA with the purpose of advising the Agency on the best scientific and technological roadmap to pursue in order to address one of the most exciting goals in modern astrophysics: the characterization of terrestrial exo-planets (up to the possible detection of biomarkers). The Exo-Planet Roadmap Advisory Team (EPR-AT) will consult with the scientific community and will report back to the Agency on the time-scale of one year. A Call for White Papers from the scientific community will be issued by ESA in May 2008.

One of the four primary themes within the Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan addresses the subjects of conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life. A key long term goal within this context is to understand and characterize exo-planets, in particular Earth-like planets. ESA’s Astronomy Working Group, following the analysis of the responses to the first Call for Mission for the Cosmic Vision Plan, has recognized the importance of this objective. It has therefore recommended to ESA to develop the necessary preconditions and technologies for achieving this goal. In response ESA has established the Exo-Planet Roadmap Advisory Team.

The Advisory Team will consult with the broad community. Input will be solicited via an open Call for White Papers to be issued by ESA in May 2008.  The Advisory Team will evaluate the papers received and will take due account of them in the preparation of the final report. This report is expected to cover the intermediate and long-term scientific goals for the field of exo-planet research. It will include a survey of existing and planned facilities, both ground- and space-based; and the scientific goals likely to be achieved with these facilities. The team will identify future facilities and the relevant technologies needed at these facilities to achieve the goals. It will also consider the intermediate milestones that must be met before the longer-term goals can be considered feasible.

At present the following provisional schedule of activities is foreseen:

End-May 2008: ESA issues Call for White Papers
30 July 2008 (12:00 CEST): Deadline for submission of White Papers
August 2008 – April 2009: EPR-AT prepares a draft roadmap
Spring 2009: Workshop at which EPR-AT presents draft roadmap report to community and solicits feedback
Summer 2009: Final roadmap report is presented to ESA and to the scientific community.

The members of the Exo-Planet Roadmap Advisory Team are:

Artie Hatzes, (Chair), Thuringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg, Germany
Malcolm Fridlund, (Secretary), ESA
Anthony Boccaletti, Observatoire de Meudon, France
Rudolf Dvorak, Institute for Astronomy, University of Vienna, Austria
Giusi Micela, INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Italy
Alessandro Morbidelli, Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, France
Andreas Quirrenbach, ZAH, Landessternwarte, Germany
Heike Rauer, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Germany
Franck Selsis, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux (LAB), France
Giovanna Tinetti, University College London, UK
Stephane Udry, Université de Genève, Switzerland

For further details please contact:
Dr. Fabio Favata
Astronomy and Fundamental Physics Missions Coordinator, ESA


Last Update: 27 May 2008

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