Maar ook een diepgaand onderzoek –letterlijk- naar de oceanen die onder het ijs van Jupitermaan Europa lijken te golven zou erg passen bij de Europese ruimtevaart. Met de Japanse ruimteorganisatie JAXA is nog een ander ambitieus plan in de maak: 12 satellieten tegelijk “would make simultaneous measurements of plasma on different scales at shocks, reconnection sites, and turbulent regions in near-Earth space. It will address fundamental questions such as how shocks accelerate and heat particles or how magnetic reconnection phenomena generate or convert energy.”
Het volledig overzicht van de voorziene missies en hun bijzondere doelen en impact leest u hieronder
Cross-Scale – multi-scale coupling in space plasmas
Cross-Scale, proposed to employ 12 spacecraft, would make simultaneous measurements of plasma on different scales at shocks, reconnection sites, and turbulent regions in near-Earth space. It will address fundamental questions such as how shocks accelerate and heat particles or how magnetic reconnection phenomena generate or convert energy. If approved, the mission would be implemented in collaboration with JAXA, the Japanese space and exploration agency.
Laplace – a mission to Europa and the Jupiter System
The Jovian System, with Jupiter and its moons, is a small planetary system in its own right. Unique among the moons, Europa is believed to shelter an ocean between its geodynamically active icy crust and its silicate mantle. The proposed mission would answer questions on habitability of Europa and of the Jovian system in relation to the formation of the Jovian satellites and to the workings of the Jovian system itself. The mission will deploy three orbiting platforms to perform coordinated observations of Europa, the Jovian satellites, Jupiter’s magnetosphere and its atmosphere and interior. If approved, the mission would be implemented in collaboration with NASA.
Marco Polo – a near-Earth object sample return mission
A sample-return mission to a near-Earth object (NEO), Marco Polo would characterise a NEO at multiple scales and return a sample. If approved, the mission would study the origins and evolution of the Solar System, the role of minor bodies in the process, origins and evolution of Earth and of life itself. It would consist of a mother satellite which would carry a lander, sampling devices, reentry capsule as well as instruments. If approved, the mission would be implemented in collaboration with JAXA.
TANDEM – Titan AND Enceladus Mission
TANDEM has been proposed to explore two of Saturn’s satellites (Titan and Enceladus) in-situ and from orbit. Building on questions raised by Cassini, the mission would investigate the Titan and Enceladus systems, their origins, interiors and evolution as well as their astrobiological potential. The mission would comprise two spacecraft – an orbiter and a carrier which will deliver a balloon and three probes onto Titan. I
If finally approved, the mission would be implemented in collaboration with NASA. It is expected that a first down-select between Laplace or TANDEM, i.e. Jupiter or Saturn targets, will be made in consultation with foreign partners in the coming years.
A dark energy mission
Two proposals have been received (DUNE, the dark universe investigator and SPACE, the new near-infrared all- sky cosmic explorer) addressing the study of dark matter and dark energy – a hot topic in astronomy. While they propose to use different techniques (DUNE is proposed as a a wide-field imager, while SPACE is proposed as a near-infrared all-sky surveyor), they address the same basic science goal. In the follow-up study phase a trade-off will be performed leading to the definition in the spring of next year of a proposal for a European dark energy mission to go forward in competition.
PLATO – PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars
The proposed next-generation planet finder is a photometry mission that will detect and characterise transiting exoplanets as well as measure the seismic oscillations of their parent stars. It will be capable of observing rocky exoplanets around brighter and better characterized stars than its predecessors. Observations of the mission will be complemented by ground- and space-based follow-up observations to derive the planet’s masses and study their atmospheres.
SPICA – SPace Infrared telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics
SPICA is a proposed medium- and far-infrared observatory with a large-aperture cryogenic telescope. The mission would address planetary formation, the way the solar system works and the origin of the universe. It would perform wide field, high sensitivity photometric mapping at high spatial resolution, spectral analysis as well as coronography of planets and planetary disks.
SPICA is proposed in collaboration with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, with ESA providing the telescope and a contribution to the operations.
XEUS – X-ray Evolving Universe Spectroscopy
XEUS is a next-generation X-ray space observatory to study the fundamental laws of the Universe and the origins of the universe. With unprecedented sensitivity to the hot, million-degree universe, XEUS would explore key areas of contemporary astrophysics: growth of supermassive black holes, cosmic feedback and galaxy evolution, evolution of large-scale structures, extreme gravity and matter under extreme conditions, the dynamical evolution of cosmic plasmas and cosmic chemistry. XEUS would be stationed in a halo orbit at L2, the second Lagrange point, with two satellites (one mirror satellite and the other a detector satellite) that would fly in formation. Various international partners have expressed interest in cooperation in XEUS and discussions will start by the end of the year with the interested agencies to ensure the earliest involvement in study work.
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