European scientists invited to participate in MICROSCOPE
20 December 2001The European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency, CNES, solicit proposals from European scientists to participate in the MICROSCOPE mission. Responses to the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for science contributions to this collaborative CNES/ESA mission to test the Equivalence Principle are due by 22 February 2002.
The primary goal of the MICROSCOPE mission is to test the Equivalence Principle between inertial mass and gravitational mass with a level of precision 2 to 3 orders of magnitude better than current ground-based measurements.
In addition to providing contributions to the primary goal, this AO solicits proposals to demonstrate technological benefits related to drag-free satellite control for future astronomy and fundamental physics missions, and to make optimum use of spacecraft resources by providing additional hardware which may benefit the mission in a wider context. (One or more 'stand-alone instruments' with a total mass of up to about 1 kg mass, 3W power and 0.5 litres volume can be proposed.)
The core programme of MICROSCOPE, which addresses the test of the Equivalence Principle, is under the responsibility of the MICROSCOPE principal investigator, Pierre Touboul (ONERA). Additional scientists from ESA Member States(*) who intend to make hardware, software or other scientific contributions to the core programme are invited jointly by CNES and ESA to send a proposal in response to this AO. The invitation also extends to the contribution of stand-alone instruments.
Specific operations of the drag-free satellite or of the payload could be undertaken after the success of the prime scientific experiment if the impact on the mission is acceptable. Scientists wishing to propose such ideas are also invited to respond to the AO.
A launch in 2005 is foreseen for MICROSCOPE.
Further details are available in the Announcement of Opportunity document.
(*)The following countries comprise the ESA Member States: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.