ESA Science & Technology - Publication Archive
Document reference: ESA-SCI-F-ESTEC-RP-2019-001
The EPIG (ESA Probe for Investigation of the Giants) CDF study explored the feasibility of a European "stand-alone" mission to the Ice Giants (or Saturn as back-up). It corresponds to an ESA internal assessment of the capabilities to use only European technology to explore the outer planets.
The study was carried out by an interdisciplinary team of experts from ESA in eight sessions, starting with a kick-off on 28 March 2019 and ending with an Internal Final Presentation on 9 May 2019. This is a summary report of the EPIG CDF study. The full CDF study report will be made available at a later date.
This brochure summarises the Herschel mission and its science achievements to date, capturing the basis for the science yet to come and its enduring legacy.
The European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory flew the largest single mirror ever built for a space telescope. At 3.5-metres in diameter the mirror collected long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. In addition, Herschel was the only space observatory to cover a spectral range from the far infrared to sub-millimetre.
The Herschel mission leaves behind a lasting legacy in the form of a treasure trove of data, thousands of scientific papers, and a new generation of astronomers whose professional lives have been formed by working on this remarkable endeavour.
- The other half of the light
- Tools of the trade
- The Herschel mission
- Gathering the light
- The infrared Universe
- Engines of star formation
- From dust to planets
- The water trail
- An international enterprise
- A lasting legacy
CHEOPS is ESA's CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite. It is the first mission dedicated to studying bright, nearby stars that are already known to host exoplanets, in order to make high-precision observations of the planet's size as it passes in front of its host star. It will focus on planets in the super-Earth to Neptune size range, with its data enabling the bulk density of the planets to be derived – a first-step characterisation towards understanding these alien worlds.
- Why exoplanets
- Enter CHEOPS
- How CHEOPS will characterise exoplanets
- Designing a planet watcher
- A European collaboration
- Welcome onboard!
The scale of groundwater upwelling on Mars, as well as its relation to sedimentary systems, remains an ongoing debate. Several deep craters (basins) in the northern equatorial regions show compelling signs that large amounts of water once existed on Mars at a planet-wide scale. The presence of water-formed features, including fluvial Gilbert and sapping deltas fed by sapping valleys, constitute strong evidence of groundwater upwelling resulting in long term standing bodies of water inside the basins. Terrestrial field evidence shows that sapping valleys can occur in basalt bedrock and not only in unconsolidated sediments. A hypothesis that considers the elevation differences between the observed morphologies and the assumed basal groundwater level is presented and described as the "dike-confined water" model, already present on Earth and introduced for the first time in the Martian geological literature. Only the deepest basins considered in this study, those with bases deeper than −4000 m in elevation below the Mars datum, intercepted the water-saturated zone and exhibit evidence of groundwater fluctuations. The discovery of these groundwater discharge sites on a planet-wide scale strongly suggests a link between the putative Martian ocean and various configurations of sedimentary deposits that were formed as a result of groundwater fluctuations during the Hesperian period. This newly recognized evidence of water-formed features significantly increases the chance that biosignatures could be buried in the sediment. These deep basins (groundwater-fed lakes) will be of interest to future exploration missions as they might provide evidence of geological conditions suitable for life.
Document reference: CDF-187(C)
A mission to the Ice Giants (Neptune and Uranus) will be among the ones examined by the next Planetary Sciences Decadal, which also fits with the potential launch opportunity, with a Jupiter swing-by, that would allow to reach both planets by launching in the early 2030s.
ESA is exploring potential contributions to a NASA-led mission to the ice giants aimed at understanding the interior structure and bulk composition of the planet(s), including isotopes and noble gases.
ESA and NASA agreed to study a palette of possible configurations of varying cost to ESA and complexity, keeping in mind the need for clear interfaces.
It is important to keep this background in mind and remember that this study is not analysing a specific science proposal but trying to understand potential contributions following a top-down approach.
Requested by SCI-FM and funded by GSP, the M* (Ice Giants) study was set to analyse the feasibility of "stand-alone" elements provided by ESA to be part of the NASA-led mission to Uranus, Neptune and their moons (M-class mission budget but not proposed following a Cosmic Vision Programme Call, hence M*).
The internal Phase 0 study of the M5 mission candidate THESEUS has been performed at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) between June and November 2018. An internal final presentation has been prepared by the CDF Team, summarizing the outcome of the Phase 0 study. This presentation can be downloaded as a PDF (10 MB) by clicking the image to the right, or the 'link to publication' link below.
The internal Phase 0 study of the M5 mission candidate SPICA has been performed at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) between June and November 2018. An internal final presentation has been prepared by the CDF Team, summarizing the outcome of the Phase 0 study. This presentation can be downloaded as a PDF (6 MB) by clicking the image to the right, or the 'link to publication' link below.
The internal Phase 0 study of the M5 mission candidate EnVision has been performed at ESA's Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) between June and November 2018. An internal final presentation has been prepared by the CDF Team, summarizing the outcome of the Phase 0 study. This presentation can be downloaded as a PDF (10 MB) by clicking the image to the right, or the 'link to publication' link below.
SMILE (Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer) was selected from a pool of 13 potential missions that were proposed to the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) as a result of a joint call for mission concepts in June 2015.
Following its selection in November 2015, detailed studies were performed by ESA, CAS, three European industrial contractors and the Science Study Team to finalise the mission architecture, including the space and ground elements that are required to fulfil the science requirements. This report, also known as the Red Book, summarizes the SMILE definition study.
This document presents the activities in the Science Core Technology Programme (CTP) and in the Technology Development Element (TDE, replacing the TRP) of the Discovery, Preparation & Technology Development Basic Activities supporting the implementation of ESA's Science Programme. The national initiatives activities of relevance to the Science programme are provided for information.
This document is provided for information only and is subject to future updates.