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Artist's impression of JUICE

Mandatory Scientific Programme

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ESA / About Us / Ministerial Council 2012

The Mandatory Scientific Programme has been the Agency’s backbone from the beginning. Its success is demonstrated by the large number of spacecraft in operation, each of which has led to Europe becoming a leader in the respective field.

A number of new missions have been initiated since the Council at Ministerial Level in 2008: Solar Orbiter and Euclid, due for launch in 2017 and 2019, respectively, and JUICE, planned for 2022. Three missions are due for launch in the next three years: Gaia in 2013, LISA PathFinder in 2014 and BepiColombo in 2015.

Following the first Call for Small Missions, resulting in the selection of Cheops, new missions are being studied, showing that the programme is providing a constant flow of new opportunities, and allows serving a broad range of communities. The programme is characterised by its bottom-up approach with new ideas springing from the science community and by the selection of the best missions through a peer-review process that is again driven by the science community.

Artist impression of Cheops
Artist impression of Cheops

Its mandatory nature ensures that its benefits accrue to all Member States and its stability provides a long-term horizon for both the European science community and European industry.

The Programme has a long-standing cooperative approach with Member States and their national programmes. Scientific payloads, which represent a significant portion of the total cost of scientific missions, are procured by nationally-funded consortia in Member State scientific institutes. This leverages investments in the Scientific Programme, resulting in more ambitious and more frequent missions than would be possible based on the Scientific Programme budget alone.

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way
Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way

Proposal to the Ministerial Council

The timely execution of the ambitious missions under development and those recently decided, together with the continuous exploitation of missions in orbit, continue providing the science community with new opportunities and require to maintain the purchasing power of the Scientific Programme within the Level of Resources (LoR) in the next period 2013-17.

The stability of financial resources will allow Europe to consolidate its global leadership and to extend it to new areas, including the exploration of planets and their moons with the JUICE, mission, the study of the most fundamental forces in the Universe with Euclid and the study of the structure of our Galaxy with Gaia to name but a few.

With no competing missions in each of these areas on the current calendar, this Programme allows the Agency to continue extending its lead for the benefit of the scientific community, European industry and the Agency’s stakeholders.

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