Press Release

ESA Call for Ideas – Planetary Exploration – To Define the Scientific Objectives for An Exploration Programme

By SpaceRef Editor
February 15, 2001
Filed under ,

Note: complete information including submission forms is online at:


Manned and robotic exploration of solar system planets and bodies will
be a fascinating challenge and endeavour in the next decades. The European
Space Agency (ESA) intends to prepare a European long-term strategy for
the exploration of the Solar System’s planets. A programme proposal will
be prepared this year with the intention to give Europe an equal footing
compared to itís international partners and to federate European initiatives
for planetary exploration. This shall provide a coherent European approach
with solid scientific rationales, mission scenarios  and related technologies.
In addition, this approach will be building on already approved scientific
missions and on International Space Station (ISS) utilisation to enhance
our knowledge of the Solar System and prepare the next step of human exploration.
It is recognised that various planetary exploration projects have already
been and are currently being, developed. The new ESA programme proposal
will not attempt to duplicate existing efforts on national or international
levels. Instead the aim is to propose a complementary programme, that will
ensure an integrated European approach.

Objective of the call for ideas

This general call for ideas is meant to ensure that the interests of
the European scientific community are the basis on which the planetary
exploration programme proposal will be built. If the programme proposal
is successful a full call for research proposals will be issued end 2001/early
2002. So the question that should be answered now is: what would your 
research priorities be if you were given the opportunity to use planetary
exploration missions?

For this call for ideas the scope  is not limited to a specific
target (like Mars, the Moon, or Europa), but should reflect your personal
interests and scientific opinions as to which goals, missions, research
areas might be of great scientific benefit. General research areas for
example could be the origin of life, limits of life (including on Earth),
planetary protection, in situ resources utilisation, extra-terrestrial
meteorology, survivability  for manned planetary exploration missions
(tele-medicine, psychological challenges, life support, radiation hazards,
etc.) or any other area you may think of. 

Submission of ideas

Your response to this call for ideas should not exceed 1 page. The first
part should state a long-term (~20 years) perspective of the kind of research
you would envisage in relation to planetary exploration. This part can
include a vision beyond what is technologically feasible today. The second
part should propose steps to be taken in the next 2- 3 years in order to
work towards fulfilling your long-term perspective. This should include,
but not be limited to, preparatory ground-based research as well as the
use of the International Space Station or already planned robotic missions.
Also possibilities for transnational co-operation should be indicated.

Name, contact information (phone, fax, e-mail) and affiliation (university,
institute….) must be included in your reply. It is important to note
that this initiative for a programme proposal can only be successful if
a large scientific community will express its interest.

Ideas should preferably be submitted electronically, using the prepared
Form . Documents should be sent as attachments to the following address:

If electronic submission is not possible the Form can be faxed to the
following number:

+31 71 565 3661

The deadline for the submission of ideas is the 14th of March 2001.
However, you are encouraged to submit your response as soon as possible.

Scientific ideas can be proposed either for: 

– experiments during robotic or eventually human missions (still to
be defined), either on the way to a planet/solar system body or in orbit
around a planet/solar system body (remote sensing) or during descent or
by using a Lander or any other means of surface transport

– ground-based preparatory research or research being performed during
already planned planetary missions or on ISS or other flights in low Earth

The main aim of this call for ideas is to identify new, creative ideas
to shape the future programme proposal. An additional goal is to evaluate
the interest of European scientists knowing that such a new initiative
can only be successful if a large scientific community will respond to
the present call. The submission of an idea will give you the opportunity
to actively participate in the shaping of the future exploration program.

The ideas submitted will be analysed by the newly appointed Exploration
Scientific Experts Group (ESEG). In parallel, ideas for technological needs
and mission scenarios will be submitted by industry. The scientific and
the technological sides will then have to come up with a consensus after
a workshop in order to produce a final recommendation for a long-term strategy
and vision and a programme proposal for the next 3-5 years. 


Please forward this call for ideas to any other colleague who might
be interested.

Note: complete information including submission forms is online at:

SpaceRef staff editor.