Plans for the future

Artist's impression of the birth of our Galaxy
17 February 2004

ESA's Science Programme Committee (SPC) are proceeding with the planning of Europe's space science activities for the next 20 years.

The 106th meeting of the SPC, the Member State delegate body overseeing the ESA's Science Programme, took place in Paris on 11-12 February 2004.

Following the meeting and keeping account of all ideas which emerged from the discussion of the Long-Term Plan, and the advice of the science advisory system, and in particular, the Space Science Advisory Committee, the Director of ESA's Science Programme, Prof. David Southwood, decided to proceed with the formulation of a long-term 'Cosmic Vision' plan, with the purpose of setting a blueprint for European activities in space science for the next 20 years.

This is the third long planning exercise for the Science Programme of ESA, after those which brought to the definition of Horizon 2000 (1984) and Horizon 2000 Plus (1994).

The next steps will be the definition of the process and the initiation of a science community-wide consultation process. In the spirit of the strategic decisions taken originally by SPC in its meeting in Andenes, Norway, in Summer 2002, the aim over Summer 2004 is not so much to identify specific missions as to bring about the identification of main research themes (and thereby key technological targets) for the next twenty years.

The exercise, involving of the advisory structure of the Science Programme, will be designed to develop and consolidate the plan with the intention of presenting it for endorsement by the SPC in November 2004.

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