The Science Programme within the Directorate of Science has two main objectives:
- To provide the scientific community with the best tools possible to maintain Europe’s competence in space.
- To contribute to the sustainability of European space capabilities and associated infrastructures by fostering technological innovation in industry and science communities, and maintaining launch services and spacecraft operations.
Long-term science planning and mission calls are established through bottom-up processes. This relies on broad participation, with input and peer reviews of the space science community. The ESA Science Programme is foremost science-driven.
All Member States contribute pro-rata to their Net National Product (NNP) providing budget stability and allowing long-term planning of its scientific goals. For this reason, the Science Programme is called ‘mandatory’.
The Science Programme has a long and successful history, starting with the Horizon 2000 Programme that lasted 20 years, from 1985–2005.
This was followed by the Horizon 2000+ Programme from 2005–2015, leading to the current Cosmic Vision Programme to 2025.
The missions of the Cosmic Vision Programme will provide answers to four fundamental questions of astronomy, Solar System science and fundamental science:
- What are the conditions for planetary formation and the emergence of life?
- How does the Solar System work?
- What are the physical fundamental laws of the Universe?
- How did the Universe originate and what is it made of?