Only one more step to the selection of ESA's future Science missions
15 September 2000SSAC recommendations to SPC for the selection of F2/F3, CS5 and CS6 missionsThe SSAC (Space Science Advisory Committee) was impressed by the high quality of the Cornerstones and Flexi-mission candidates as presented in Paris on 12-13 September 2000.
Having thoroughly reviewed the two candidates for Cornerstone 5, BepiColombo and Gaia, which were unanimously supported by the Solar System Working Group (SSWG) and Astronomy Working Group (AWG) respectively, as well as the F2/F3 mission candidates recommended by the AWG, SSWG and FPAG (Fundamental Physics Working Group), the SSAC recommends that:
- BepiColombo should be selected as CS5 and the Gaia mission as CS6;
- LISA, the Fundamental Physics Cornerstone, should be implemented within a Flexi-mission envelope, in collaboration with NASA;
- The European involvement in NGST should be pursued with the highest priority;
- Solar Orbiter should be selected as a Flexi-mission, to be implemented after BepiColombo;
- Eddington should be selected as a "reserve mission", which could be implemented depending on the NGST and LISA schedules or provision of further resources.
The SSAC identified two missions (NGST and LISA) whose schedules are outside of ESA's control. This consideration raised the opportunity to recommend to SPC (Science Programme Committee) all missions in items 1 to 5, as a package consistent with the recommendations expressed by the working/advisory groups, which is also in accordance with the scientific priorities set by the Survey Committee for Horizons 2000.
The SSAC notes that maintaining the purchasing power of the Scientific Programme at the 2002 level, as recommended by SPC for planning purposes, would allow the implementation of all missions in the timeframe 2008-2013 with a launch of BepiColombo in 2009 and Gaia not later than 2012 and gives the Executive the mandate to optimise the implementation of this package.
The SSAC is very concerned about the timespan required to implement this package within the present financial constraints and requests the Executive to explore scenarios that could significantly accelerate the implementation and make a proposal for additional resources.