Continuously Open Research Announcement (CORA)

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Research capabilities offered by ground based facilities not only improve the preparation of space flight experiments, but can also further scientific knowledge of the basic influence of gravity or other space or planetary conditions on life-, physical-, and interdisciplinary- processes in general.

The advantage of using ground based facilities will also considerably increase the potential for experimenting under simulated space conditions as compared to real space and microgravity access possibilities, which at present are still limited.

This will allow for more comprehensive research programmes, making them compatible with earth-based research activities, and will favour the development of a strong community of scientists from all disciplines keen to include space relevant research into their daily scientific activities.

Fast-track evaluation

In order to better cope with the need to respond rapidly with the need for accessing a GBF, ESA has implemented a Fast-Track evaluation process for proposals with a threshold maximal cost for ESA of 50 kEuro. Proposals within that range are evaluated at any time, i.e. also independently of the classical international announcement of opportunities.

Wide range of functions offered

The facilities are providing for a wide range of functions mimicking space typical conditions but also planetary conditions and special Earth environments.

Such functions are presently covering: bed rest / hypokinesia / metabolic balances, hypergravity (centrifuges), confinement / pressurisation chambers / climate chambers, telemedicine / behaviour / body-metrics, remote isolation, radiation, movement analysis (body), human rated linear and angular accelerator, magnetic resonance, tomography / high resolution echography, physical & skills training biofeedback, absence of sedimentation (random positioning machines, clinostats, magnetic levitators), phytotron, artificial ecosystems, extreme environments / space power, integrated bioprocesses / tissue engineering, small animals facility, crystallisation, and surface tension.

Complementarily with the AO 2009: integrated research programmes are favoured. Given the natural limitations for any space experiment, it is highly recommended to first test the hypothesis using extensively the simulation capabilities provided by the GBF, confirming the gravity/µg/space influence on the process, and identifying the optimal experimental condition to reach unequivocal confirmation in a later real flight.

Such an approach naturally encourages the long term planning, integrating normal ground research, space simulation, and real space experimenting. A submitted proposal for an experiment using the GBF is therefore expected to indicate guidelines for continuation of the integrated scientific programme and to prepare for the “real” space experiment.

Last update: 23 June 2011

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