ESA title
Enabling & Support

About us

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ESA / Enabling & Support / Preparing for the Future / Discovery and Preparation

Since its foundation, ESA has invested in numerous Discovery & Preparation activities. The studies that we support interact in different ways with all of the ESA programmes, but our main role is to lay the groundwork for the Agency’s future activities in the short to medium term.

The objectives of our activities are to:

  • Contribute to the formulation of the overall ESA strategy;
  • Study feasibility for selection of new mission concepts;
  • Prepare/demonstrate the case for approval and funding of new optional projects/programmes;
  • Support the evolution of ESA by analysing and testing new working methodologies.

The Discovery & Preparation activities are organised around three domains:

Mission assessment studies

The programme performs mission feasibility studies, which provide ESA member states and scientific community with the necessary information for the selection of new mission concepts and the approval and funding of new optional programmes. We also perform ESA internal mission concept assessments via the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF).

Interdisciplinary activities

Our activities facilitate inter-directorate work e.g. through the internal biannual Call for Ideas and the 30 to 50 new research studies resulting from it in each cycle. Each proposal for new studies must involve representatives from at least three different directorates. The topics investigated run across the entire spectrum of the Agency’s activities, with the result that ESA staff act as the main "discoverers" and "filters" of new ideas in the European space sector. Each study usually lasts one to two years, sufficient time for in-depth exploration of each subject.

Strategy studies

Our activities also contribute to the formulation of the overall ESA strategy. We support the evolution of ESA by analysing trends and identifying potential issues, and by testing new working methodologies – laying the groundwork for the Agency’s future activities.

Throughout our activities we actively seek the views and suggestions of industry by organising workshops, visits and interviews.

The Discovery & Preparation team

Discovery & Preparation is part of the Future Preparation and Strategic Studies Office, located in ESA's Headquarters in Paris. It is part of the Systems, Software and In-Orbit Demonstration Department within the Directorate of Technical and Quality Management.

Ian Carnelli
Programme Manager
tel. +33 (0)1 5369 7109
e-mail: Ian.Carnelli @

Paola Semeraro
Project Controller
tel. +33 (0)1 5369 8042
e-mail: Paola.Semeraro @

Moritz Fontaine
Discovery & Preparation Officer
tel. +33 (0)1 5369 7506
e-mail: moritz.fontaine @

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