The Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) contains a section entitled 'Strengthening of Space Foundations'. For the first round of calls in 2007, eleven proposals were approved corresponding to an investment of €30m.
The priorities for European space science have been defined by two European Space Agency (ESA) programmes: one focusing on the fundamental science of space and the other on Earth science.
The ESA's Scientific Committee endorsed the ESA's 'Cosmic Vision 2020' in May 2005. This vision sets out four key questions that will frame future ESA science missions:
- What are the conditions for life and planetary formation?
- How does our Solar System work?
- What are the fundamental laws of the Universe?
- How did the Universe begin and what is it made of?
The ESA's 'Living Planet'programme has two parts: a science and research component, which includes the Earth Explorer missions; and the Earth Watch component that focuses on Earth observation data, including the well-established meteorological missions of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites ( EUMETSAT) and the new GMES initiative. Priorities within the Living Planet programme include missions to monitor the polar ice caps, ocean circulation systems and the physics of the Earth's core.
There is also an active European Programme for Life and Physical Sciences (ELIPS) and applications utilising the International Space Station (ISS).
Pursuing world-class space science is crucial for expanding our knowledge base, developing new technologies and attracting young people into science and engineering.