Invitation to Tender: “EO science strategy foundation study”

This study provides a unique opportunity for the wider international Earth Observation (EO) scientific community to participate and express their views and ideas in the elaboration of a new ESA EO Science Strategy.

The new Strategy is expected to guide the selection and development of new future EO research satellites, and the scientific content and technology goals of EO Programmes starting in 2024. The new EO science strategy will guide activities and priorities of the Future EO Programme including:

  1. new science-driven satellite missions including Earth Explorers, Scouts and Missions of Opportunity which form a primary element of the science and research element of the Programme, offering opportunities for new remote sensing techniques and innovative mission concepts and
  2. scientific data exploitation through large-scale demonstration projects, and developing innovative uses of satellite information products.

Since the publication of ESA’s Living Planet Programme: Scientific Achievements and Future Challenges strategy document in 2015, the EO landscape has changed significantly and the volume and diversity of spaceborne Earth observations continues to increase substantially, accompanied and supported by new developments in the use of these data for scientific discovery and applications and commercial use. Major new developments include amongst others the launch of Copernicus operational Sentinel missions and EO science missions by various space agencies including ESA, the launch of new EO scientific missions, the publication of National Space Strategies and mission roadmaps, and the rapid development of commercial space satellites and EO-based applications.

In this changing context, the EO Science Strategy Foundation Study represents an innovative new approach for scientists to contribute to and shape the future ESA EO Science Strategy. The deliverables (outputs) of this study will provide the basis for a renewed EO science strategy for ESA and the scientific content of its EO Programmes to be developed under the guidance of the Advisory Committee for Earth Observation (ACEO).

The study builds on a new conceptual approach to developing the new science strategy, which includes:

  • To identify a limited number of timely, domain cross-cutting core science questions that are considered as priorities to be addressed in the 2024-2030 timeframe.
  • To ensure that these core science questions are justified and directly traceable in terms of societal benefits, and in turn linked to international programmes, themes and context.
  • To ensure that these core science questions are traceable to geophysical and observational needs, which are in turn mapped to gaps in current EO capabilities as well as research and development priorities building on the capabilities of current and near future EO mission missions.
  • To achieve its objectives, the study team is expected to research and review the international Earth Observation context and the current state of the art and trends in EO research and development, as well as develop a consolidated view of the geophysical and observational capabilities of current and planned EO assets at national and international level.

The main output of the study is expected to be the selection of a limited number of candidate core science questions which will be justified in terms of:

  1. societal needs and relevance with respect to international themes;
  2. their scientific impact and attractiveness;
  3. addressing identified needs in terms of geophysical observables and associated EO observation gaps.

Learn more about this Invitation To Tender on the esa-star Publication page.

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