1 October 2020 - Comments Off on Wanted: your ideas for ESA’s future space missions
Do you have a compelling idea for a future space mission? ESA wants to hear it.
The European Space Agency is issuing an open call for new mission concepts across its entire range of activities. Anyone is encouraged to submit in response, from research institutes and companies to ‘citizen scientist’ members of the public.
Ideas can be submitted via ESA’s new Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP), which also provides full details of the timing, process and evaluation criteria.
“Following the successful Space19+ Ministerial meeting, it’s time to plant the seeds for new programmatic decisions on new missions and new space projects. This time we’re tapping into the insight, competence and creativity of industry, academia and private citizens to identify the best ideas for new space missions beyond our current planning or scope.” - ESA Director General Jan Wörner
The scope of future space missions is figuratively and literally infinite. Proposed space mission concepts can also be outside of the current scope of ESA space missions, but they need to be within the mandate assigned to ESA by its Convention.
Missions might aim to solve a prevailing scientific puzzle, like ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, seeking to pin down the source of mysterious methane emissions on the red planet. Or look back at the world in a new way, such as the Aeolus mission mapping wind fields from orbit. Or they can test out new ways of accessing space, as with the resuable Space Rider.
Novel technology is often a spur to new missions: ESA’s Biomass Earth Explorer mission will map all the trees on Earth through an innovative P-band synthetic aperture radar system. Or a mission might be chosen to prove a novel operating approach, as with the double-satellite Proba-3, which will demonstrate precision formation flying to form an artificial eclipse in orbit, to observe the Sun’s ghostly corona.
Alternatively, missions can form the basis of space-based services, like ESA’s Telecom missions. For instance, the just-launched ESAIL microsatellite uses automatically-transmitted ‘AIS’ identification signals from ships as the basis of global maritime tracking.
The smallest missions tend to be among the most experimental, such as CubeSat missions built up from 10-cm boxes, including the twin RACE CubeSats to demonstrate miniaturised rendezvous and docking, or PRETTY, employing reflected satellite navigation signals to gather details of the terrestrial environment.
Published by: Lisa