SSAC Assessment of F2/F3 Missions
The ongoing schedule of the F2/F3 selection is as follows:
|Call for mission ideas released||
1 October 1999
|Letters of Intent due||
22 October 1999
|Briefing to proposers at ESTEC||
28 October 1999
|Mission Proposals due||
31 January 2000
|Selection of 4 new assessment studies||
1 March -31 May 2000
|Recommendation by SSAC||
15 September 2000
|Selection by SPC of three definition studies||
11-12 October 2000
|Start of definition phase||
|Possible launch date particularly cheap missions||
|F2 launch date||
|Full-size F3 launch date||
The Call for proposals resulted in receipt of 49 proposals covering the fields of Astronomy (16), Solar System research (18), Fundamental Physics (15). Evaluations by the Working/Advisory Groups were carried out on 23-24 February (SSWG), 28 February (AWG), 28-29 February (FPAG), with the technical support from the Executive.
The objective of the SSAC was to select four missions for full assessment studies, in addition to NGST (if supported by the AWG).
On the basis of the review process, the SSAC recommended as candidates for the selection of three definition studies the six proposals, which emerged as the top priorities of the Working/Advisory Groups. The selection of the definition studies will take place in September-October 2000.
|Eddington||A Stellar Physics and Planet Finder Explorer (I. Roxburgh & al.)|
|HYPER||HYPER Precision Atom Interferometry in Space (W.Ertmer & al.)|
|MASTER||Mars + ASTERoid mission (M.A. Barucci & al.)|
|NGST||Next Generation Space Telescope (P.Jakobsen & al.)|
|Solar Orbiter||(E. Marsch & al.)|
|STORMS||A three spacecraft constellation for the study of magnetospheric storms (H.E.J. Koskinen & al.)|
Recognising that technical studies have been carried out previously for NGST and Solar Orbiter, the SSAC considers it possible to include these projects in addition to four full studies (Eddington, HYPER, MASTER, STORMS).
Regarding HYPER, the SSAC noted that the feasibility of the payload was yet to be ascertained and therefore recommended that a short preliminary study on the HYPER payload should be carried out. If a critical issue were to be identified, then the CASIMIR proposal (A Proposal to Investigate the Casimir Effect, R. Bingham & al.), which had been highly rated by the FPAG, will be studied instead of HYPER.
Low Cost Contributions
Included amongst the proposals received, were a number of requests for low cost contributions to missions approved by other agencies.
Three such contributions were considered by the SSAC:
|COROT||COnvection, ROtation and planetary Transits (A. Baglin & al.)|
|MICROSCOPE||MICROSatellite 'à trainée Compensée' for the Observation of the Principle of Equivalence (S. Léon & al.)|
|NETLANDER||NETwork of Mars LANDERs (R. Bonneville & al.)|
These three missions were considered by the SSAC to be of very high scientific merit. Moreover, they are consistent with the scientific priorities of the Horizons 2000 programme. The decision on whether to proceed will be taken in September and will be based on a precise evaluation of the costs to the Science Programme of ESA as well as the specific benefit to ESA and the added value for the European space science community. In case of positive decision funding for these missions could be considered within the F2-F3 envelope.
Three more proposals were recognised to be of very high scientific interest, and possibly suitable for accommodation on the International Space Station. These are:
|EUSO||Extreme Universe Space Observatory (L. Scarsi & al.)|
|LOBSTER||Imaging All-Sky Monitor based on Lobster Eye X-Ray Optics (G.W. Fraser & al.)|
|MOSS||Superconducting Microwave Oscillators on the Space Station (J.A. Lipa & al.)|
The SSAC recommended that these three projects be studied by the Directorate of Manned Spaceflight and Microgravity to assess their suitability for the International Space Station. They will follow a parallel track, which will be defined by the rules for the Utilisation of the International Space Station.
The SSAC recognises the high level of European interest in Space VLBI, which provides uniquely high spatial resolution. There is currently no approved international space VLBI mission to follow on from the Japanese VSOP-1 (HALCA) mission. If one should be identified in the future, the SSAC recommends that an ESA involvement be considered.
The SSAC was impressed by the number of excellent proposals received, which demonstrated the vitality and ingenuity of the European space science community. It also expressed its gratitude to the Working/Advisory Groups for having carried out their tasks, with the support of the Executive, in the most effective way.