ESA's space astrophysics programme
Review articleOpen access

AbstractCurrently ESA is operating one satellite for astronomy the IUE, in collaboration with NASA. Four other space missions are in development or awaiting launch: Hipparcos for astrometry, the Space Telescope to which ESA contributes the Faint Object Camera, Ulysses for solar system studies at high heliographic latitude and ISO the Infrared Space Observatory. Two ‘cornerstone’ missions of the future ESA space science programme are in an advance state of preparation, the Solar-Terrestrial Science Programme with its SOHO and Cluster satellites and the High Throughput X-ray Spectroscopy Mission. A new medium class mission will be selected in 1988/89 from on-going phase A studies: Lyman for far-UV astronomy, Quasat for a space-based ratio telescope linked to VLBI networks ,GRASP for gamma-ray astronomy, Cassini the Titan probe and Vesta for asteroid and comet investigations. The sequence of the third and fourth cornerstone missions, i.e. the Far Infrared-Submillimetre Mission and the Comet Nucleus Sample Return Mission is expected to be determined in 1991. The scenario for programmes to be launched up to the year 2006 includes three further medium class missions and four opportunities for participation in space station or similar activities.

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