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The Space Sciences part of the ESF's PESSC Unit, supervised by the ESSC, will manage two new EC contracts in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Both will be funded through the EC 7th Framework Programme.
The MEGAHIT project, aimed at establishing a European programmatic roadmap for the development of breakthrough propulsion systems and advanced power sources for long-duration exploration missions, is a Coordination Action that will run between March 2013 and May 2014. Partners are: AREVA, CNES, DLR, KeRC, TAS-I.
The AstRoMap project has the goal to prepare a White Book about the astrobiology missions in the next 20 years. The consortium is composed of players at European level, namely: the Belgian User Support and Operations Centre, the Spanish Centro de Astrobiologia, the German Space Agency, the new UK centre for Astrobiology, the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, and the European Astrobiology Network Association. This Coordination Action has started on 14 October 2012 in Stockholm and will last 3 years.
This foresight activity takes place within the context of an ESF ‘Forward Look’ that was initiated as a request from ESA. The ESF supports this foresight instrument to develop medium to long-term views and analyses of future research developments with the aim of defining research agendas at national and European level. Recent TECHBREAK (Technology breakthroughs for scientific progress) events were a series of thematic workshops on Key Enabling Technologies, that followed on the launch conference held in Brussels, on 29-30 November 2010. The intended outcomes are to identify technology areas of use to the space sector and the granularity level at which they can be useful.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has asked ESF and its space sciences committee ESSC to define an acceptable risk level for the possibility of introducing a potential Martian life form into the terrestrial biosphere in the context of a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission (backward contamination). After considering the upcoming technology development and mission study activities for an international MSR mission, the fact that the acceptable risk requirement will drive some of the fail-safe approaches for sample containment, and the current status of the relevant requirement, the Planetary Protection Working Group (PPWG) of ESA recommended in their 12th meeting in April 2010 to request advice from the ESF. This recommendation has been coordinated with the NASA Planetary Protection Officer to avoid duplication of efforts on the part of the US National Research Council Space Studies Board. A framework agreement was thus set up between ESA and ESF and this activity formally started in February 2011. It ended in May 2012.