Questions and Answers
- Why is ESA running a public consultation?
- How will public opinion be taken into account in ESA's long-term planning?
- Why do you not mention crewed missions or sending humans to other planets and moons in the Solar System?
- I will complete my studies in space science/astronomy soon. Should I respond to the public survey or to the professional consultation?
- There is no survey in my native language. Can I reply in my language to one of the other surveys?
- Why is ESA planning now for missions that will be operating in 30 years time?
- Why do you need another X-ray/infrared/microwave mission when there have already been several?
- I don't live in/am not a citizen of an ESA Member State. Do you want my opinion?
- I have an idea for a mission for the Science Programme. Where can I send it?
- I cannot use a computer but I want to share my views on the future science programme. Can I submit my responses on paper?
ESA's Science Directorate is responsible for developing the long-term plan for space science missions at ESA. Since the mid 1980s this plan has been developed in consultation with the scientific community in Europe. The Director of Science, Günther Hasinger, is responsible for preparing Voyage 2050 the next long-term plan. This will cover the period from about 2035 to 2050. In addition to consulting the scientific community, the Director is inviting the public to share their views about the big science questions that should be addressed by space missions during that time period. By providing an opportunity to participate in the formation of Voyage 2050, ESA wishes to foster a sense of ownership and involvement in the missions, as well as creating a transparent and open process.
The views expressed by the public during this consultation will be presented to the Director and decision-makers in the Science Directorate, as well as to the scientists from the community who have been tasked with devising the future programme.
Why do you not mention crewed missions or sending humans to other planets and moons in the Solar System?
ESA's Science Programme falls under the responsibility of the Directorate of Science and is focused on the investigation of astrophysical phenomena and natural bodies in outer space using spacecraft or scientific probes for remote and/or in-situ physical measurements. Crewed missions and human exploration beyond Earth fall under the responsibility of the Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration Programmes and do not form part of the long-term Science Programme.
I will complete my studies in space science/astronomy soon. Should I respond to the public survey or to the professional consultation?
If you are not yet active in the field you are welcome to respond to the public consultation. If you are already an active space scientist/astronomer we encourage you to participate in the consultation with the professional community, details of this are available here.
We can only support the survey in these languages: Dutch, English, Estonian, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Spanish. You are welcome to submit your replies, in your native language, via any of the forms.
The missions in ESA's Science Programme form the building blocks of a long-term space science plan that has been devised to answer big science questions, such as:
- What are the conditions for planetary formation and the emergence of life?
- How does the Solar System work?
- What are the physical fundamental laws of the Universe?
- How did the Universe originate and what is it made of?
The existence of a long-term plan has led to ground-breaking missions such as:
- Huygens, the probe that landed on Saturn's moon, Titan, in 2005;
- Rosetta, the spacecraft that accompanied a comet during its closest approach to the Sun and, in 2014, deployed a lander to the comet's surface;
- Gaia, which since 2014 has been mapping the positions and motions of more than 1 billion stars in our Milky Way and beyond;
and many more.
Missions like these take decades to come to fruition, requiring a long period of preparation and technological development before construction can begin. The existence of a long-term plan for the Science Programme provides the confidence for scientists, engineers, industry, and funding agencies that their sustained efforts for decades are not in vain.
Each new generation of spacecraft and instruments takes advantage of developments in technology and builds on the knowledge that has already been gained to choose new questions that can be fruitfully tackled with the available tools.
We welcome your opinion, even if you are not resident in an ESA Member State.
Specific ideas for missions can be submitted under the Call for White Papers; for further details, see this web page.
I cannot use a computer but I want to share my views on the future science programme. Can I submit my responses on paper?
If you cannot respond to the survey online we will accept responses on paper. Please post your response to:
Discovering our Universe – public consultation
European Space Research & Technology Centre
2200 AG Noordwijk