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Technology preparation for the M4 mission

Technology preparation for the M4 mission

Three candidate missions for the fourth medium-class (M4) mission in ESA’s Science Programme were selected in 2015 to undergo further assessment:

  • ARIEL: the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey, a mission for determining the chemical composition and physical conditions of the atmosphere for a set of exoplanets
  • THOR: a plasma mission aiming at understanding the physical mechanisms underlying the energy dissipation of turbulent fluctuations in plasma.
  • XIPE: an X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer providing a high-sensitivity polarization measurement for a large collection of X-ray sources.

The selection of one of the three candidate missions to enter a Phase B1 mission definition study phase will be made in November 2017. The mission adoption is planned for 2019, with a launch opportunity in 2026.

The M4 candidate missions have been defined to be compliant with a reduced preparation phase and Cost-at-Completion in comparison to standard M-class missions. Therefore, the missions rely heavily on mature technologies, meaning technology preparation activities are limited for the three M4 candidate missions.


Critical technologies or elements under ESA responsibility
for each of the candidate M4 missions

 M4  candidate

 Technology area

 Technology Development Activity



 Tip/Tilt mechanism

 Ne Joule-Thomson Cryocooler

 EMC pre-verification and simulation


 Environment & Verifications

 Plasma environment modelling for ASPOC instrument

 Radiation shielding analysis

 Star Tracker performance on spinning spacecraft


 Radiation Environment

 Radiation environment modelling

Last Update: 1 September 2019
14-Jul-2020 14:42 UT

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