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Science & Exploration

Research Announcements

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Research

ESA research announcements are the official access routes for institutional users to use research facilities managed by ESA's Directorate of Human and Robotic Exploration. The Science Department of ESA’s Human Spaceflight and Exploration Directorate recently undertook an extensive exercise to create a new strategy, focusing on a set of newly-defined goals to positively shape its research programme and maximise research. 

The roadmaps can be found here.

Scientists are strongly encouraged to address at least one the topics highlighted in the document above in their proposal. The following research announcement opportunities are available:

Gateway Ground-based facilities programme
SciSpacE Roadmaps Update
Concordia – Antarctica Investigating biological effects of space radiation
Topical Team opportunity Parabolic flights
Drop Tower Sounding rockets



Gateway research announcements

Gateway is a crew-tended platform in lunar vicinity which will be assembled during the 2020s through international partnership between ESA, NASA, CSA and JAXA.

The Gateway is a platform where scientific research can be performed in deep space, taking advantage of the location and environment that is found there and facilitating research at the surface. The research performed at Gateway will address fundamental  science questions, support exploration on the Moon and prepare for human missions to Mars. Open Research Announcements for Gateway are shown below.

Research Anouncement for Heliophysics Environmental and Radiation Measurement Experiment Suite (HERMES) Interdisciplinary Science Teams

The first two scientific payloads to fly with the first Gateway elements are NASA’s Heliophysics Environmental and Radiation Measurement Experiment Suite (HERMES) and ESA’s European Radiation Sensor Array (ERSA). Together these instruments will characterise the radiation, plasma, and fields environment at the Gateway  to prepare for further exploration activities and to perform scientific investigations in the deep space environment.

The science objectives of the HERMES payload take advantage of the Near-Rectilinear Halo Orbit around the Moon the Gateway will use and the presence of the two THEMIS/ARTEMIS spacecraft in equatorial lunar orbit. With this triad of observing points of HERMES and ERSA, and the two THEMIS/ARTEMIS spacecraft, investigations of solar wind dynamics are possible at scales not currently available.

Furthermore, in coordination with other spacecraft in GEO-space, investigations at lunar distances are possible as the Moon traverses Earth’s magnetotail. The science goals and objectives of the HERMES payload are fully consistent with the NASA Artemis Program.       

The science goal of HERMES is to conduct Heliophysics science investigations uniquely enabled by the Gateway. The HERMES Science Goals and Objectives are to:

  • A. Determine mechanisms of solar wind mass and energy transport.
    • A1. Determine effects of large-scale structures on plasma transport and particle energies within the solar wind.
    • A2. Determine effects of small-scale structures on plasma transport and particle energies within the solar wind.
  • B. Characterize energy, topology, and ion composition in the deep magnetotail.
    • B1. Determine structure and dynamics of the magnetotail at lunar orbit.
    • B2. Quantify energy content of the magnetotail at lunar orbit.
    • B3. Quantify transport of atmospheric ions.
  • C. Establish observational capabilities of an on-board pathfinder payload measuring local space weather to support deep-space and long-term human exploration.
    • C1. HERMES shall assess the effects of field of view limitations associated with its accommodation on Gateway.
    • C2. HERMES shall assess interference with measurements due to electric currents and surface charging.

An opportunity for selection of interdisciplinary science teams for HERMES has been released by NASA. Through ESA’s cooperation on Gateway this call is also open to European investigators.

Details on HERMES and the NASA call can be found here in PDF format.

The research announcement can be found here.

Research Announcement for European Radiation Sensor Array (ERSA) International Science Team

An announcement for selection of the ERSA international science team is coming soon.


The Steering Committee of Concordia (representing the Italian and French National Antarctic programmes) and ESA release this joint Announcement of Opportunity for biomedical experiments to be implemented on the Concordia station and to address human research questions that are relevant to prepare for ESA’s overarching goal to enable a human mission to the Moon, Mars or beyond.
More information can be found on the OSIP campaign, which is accessible via


Letter of Intent* - 28th of February 2021 (*non-binding, not mandatory)
Virtual AO workshop - 16th of March 2021 (10 am - 12h30 pm)
Full proposals - 3rd of May 2021


Topical Team opportunity

ESA has a long history of supporting so-called Topical Teams to enhance European collaboration and focus on research. Topical Teams, depending on their subject, include experts from European universities, research entities and industries who together formulate succinct and relevant proposals for comprehensive research. Support to new Topical Teams in the “Science in the Space Environment (SciSpacE)” programme will continue and expanded to multidisciplinary research to increase international collaboration.

Download the information package in PDF format.

Download the submission proposal template in Word format.

Drop tower

The Bremen drop tower is one of the tallest and best-known drop tower facilities in Europe. At the heart of the facility is the 146-m tall tower surrounded by support facilities that include control rooms, laboratories and workshops. Capsules are released from a height of 120 m offering 4.74 s of microgravity experiment time. The capsule experiences a deceleration of up to 50 g after the experiment is completed. Through this continuously-open research announcement, scientists are invited to apply with experiment proposals that use the unique capabilities of the drop tower.

Dedicated information package in PDF format

Proposal submission template

Ground-based facilities programme

ESA's ground-based facilities programme is a highly valuable low-cost tool allowing scientists to push forward their understanding of basic science aspects, preparing for more complex spaceflight experiments and advancing human and biological aspects for exploration. Through this continuously-open research announcement, scientists are invited to apply with experiment proposals that use the capabilities of the facilities in this programme.

Dedicated information package in PDF format

Proposal submission template

Facilities that would like to join ESA's pool of Ground Based Facilities programme and allow research to be conducted can use this Application Template Word document


SciSpacE Roadmaps Update - Public Consultation

The SciSpacE Roadmaps represent the research community’s recommendations on scientific goals and focus for research within the E3P programme. They provide a reference for definition of priorities for community-driven research taking advantage of the platforms and opportunities available within the programme. The initial SciSpacE roadmaps were elaborated with the research community in 2016 and mapped out priorities for research with the available capabilities in the programme until 2024. The E3P programme is now evolving to include Low-Earth Orbit, Moon and Mars and a more significant exploration focus. As a result a broader range of research topics can be potentially addressed. Therefore, the roadmaps have been updated to reflect the science priorities identified by the research community until 2030, covering the extended International Space Station lifetime as well as the availability of the new exploration platforms.

Over the course of 2020, the ESA SciSpacE team has intensively worked with members from the European science community in the different disciplines to work on this update. For Physical Sciences, Biology and Human Research, a Call for Ideas was already released to solicit for specific recommendations to be taken into account with this update of the research roadmaps. To finalise the roadmaps we invite the science community to provide input and feedback on the draft roadmaps . The inputs will be consolidated and presented for consideration to the respective Roadmap Expert Working Groups in the different disciplines and fields, as well as the ESA advisory structure including the Life and Physical Sciences Working Group (L/PSWG) and the Human spaceflight and Exploration Science Advisory Committee (HESAC). After this the final roadmaps will be published by the end of 2Q/2021, providing an import input to the overall elaboration of the E3P Research Strategy.

The draft updates of the SciSpacE Research Roadmaps are now available online for the community consultation via ESA's OSIP platform. The link to the draft Roadmaps and consultation can be found at the following link:

Note: To access OSIP and comment you need to first register in the system. The deadline for providing feedback is Wednesday 3rd March 2021.


Investigating biological effects of space radiation

Radiation in space is considered a potential ‘show-stopper’ for human exploration of space. ESA' programme "Investigating biological effects of space radiation" (IBER) was formed to advance knowledge that is needed sustain long-duration human exploration missions. This continuously-open research announcement scientists are invited to apply with experiment proposals that use the capabilities of the facilities that are part of IBER.

Dedicated information package in PDF format

Proposal submission template

Microgravity Application Promotion

Due to funding issues, this programme has been discontinued. The Microgravity Application Promotions programme will be continued in 2020 in an evolved form within ESA's Business in Space Growth Network (for more information, please go to:

Parabolic flights

 Parabolic flights are the only sub-orbital carriers that allow scientists to run biological, biomedical and physiological experiments in microgravity or other (reduced) gravity levels. In addition to testing facilities before use in space, parabolic flights validate operational and experimental procedures, and train astronauts for future spaceflight. Through this continuously-open research announcement, scientists are invited to apply with experiment proposals that use the the parabolic flight aircraft.

Dedicated information package in PDF format

Proposal submission template

Sounding rockets

Sounding rockets launch experiments to the edge of space before falling back to Earth. These flights can carry 100-kg experiments up to 750 km high with up to 13 minutes of microgravity. Through this continuously-open research announcement, scientists are invited to apply with experiment proposals that use the sounding rocket launches that participate in this programme.

Research opportunities in 2020–2022 for ESA-sponsored sounding rockets are almost filled, this research announcement will therefore be temporarily closed from 30 June 2020. 

Proposals submitted before 30 June 2020 will still be evaluated and – subject to a high science merit score as well as technical feasibility – will be considered for implementation in the 2020–2022 period. 

Proposals submitted after 30 June 2020 will not be accepted nor considered for implementation for the 2020–2022 period.

This research announcement will be re-opened in the course of 2021 to solicit experiments that will be implemented in 2023–2025.

Dedicated information package in PDF format

Proposal submission template

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