Cosmic Vision (also known as Cosmic Vision 2015–2025) is an European Space Agency (ESA) long-term space science missions programme spanning between years 2015 and 2025, a successor to the Horizon 2000 long-term scientific programme.
The initial call of ideas and concepts was launched in 2004 with a subsequent workshop held in Paris to define more fully the themes of the Vision under the broader headings of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Solar System Exploration and Fundamental Physics.
By early 2006 the formulation for a 10-year plan based around 4 key questions emerged:
- What are the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life?
- How does the Solar System work?
- What are the fundamental physical laws of the Universe?
- How did the Universe originate and what is it made of?
In March 2007 a call for mission ideas was formally released, which yielded in 19 astrophysics, 12 fundamental physics and 19 solar system mission proposals.
In March 2012 ESA announced it had begun working on a series of small science missions. The first winning "S Class" idea is set to receive 50 million euros (£42m) and will be readied for launch in 2017.
Large missions (L)
Originally it was intended that L-class projects were to be carried out in collaboration with other partners and should have an ESA cost not exceeding 900 million euros. However, in April 2011 it became clear that budget pressures in the US meant that an expected collaboration with NASA on the L1 mission would not be practical; so the down-selection was delayed and the missions re-scoped on the assumption of ESA lead with some limited international participation.
Two large missions have been selected:
- L1, JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer), a selected mission to the Jupiter system (with heritage from Laplace); launch planned for 2022.
- L2, ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics), an X-ray observatory with a launch planned for 2028.
- L3 mission is still to be announced. Its launch is planned for 2034. Though originally planned to be announced along with L2 mission, no such announcement was made as of August 2014. ESA has selected the gravitational Universe science theme for its L3 mission. LISA is a main candidate for L3 mission. It is a proposed space mission concept designed to detect and accurately measure gravitational waves.
Medium-size missions (M)
M-class projects will usually be relatively stand-alone ESA projects and have a price cap of approximately 500 million Euros. The two first M-class missions, M1 and M2, were selected in October 2011:
- M1, Solar Orbiter, an adopted mission for close-up observations of the sun; launch planned in 2017.
- M2, Euclid, a selected mission to study dark energy and dark matter; launch planned for 2020.
The third M-class mission, M3, was selected on 19 February 2014:
- M3, PLATO, a selected mission to search for exoplanets and measure stellar oscillations; launch planned for 2024.
M4 is still to be selected. Its launch is planned for 2025 and ESA announced a call for missions in August 2014 with a deadline of 15 January 2015. The few mission proposals selected for further study will be announced in March 2015.
Small missions (S)
S-class missions are intended to have a cost to ESA not exceeding 50 million euros. A first call for mission proposals was issued in March 2012. Approximately 70 letters of Intent were received. In October 2012 the first S-class mission was selected:
Missions of Opportunity
Occasionally ESA makes contributions to space missions led by another space agency. There is currently one candidate for such a mission of opportunity within Cosmic Vision:
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