Link to the dedicated ESSC website 

Europe’s advisor on space science and policy


The European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC) was established in 1974, as a means to establish an independent voice and leadership role for European space scientists in the international space arena.  The ESSC is an Expert Board hosted and administered by the European Science Foundation.

The European Space Sciences Committee provides impartial scientific advice to the European Space Agency, the European Commission, European national space agencies, and other decision-makers in the space domain.

They strive to be the reference body in Europe for independent expertise on matters of space science, acting as a representative voice of the European space science community and promoting international cooperation in the field.


ESSC Vision is to be widely established as an authentic and trusted voice of the European Space Sciences Community, recognized for their expertise in the field of space sciences, promoting fundamental, use-inspired, and applied space research, seeking to ensure maximum scientific benefits of Europe’s investments in the space domain (including the commercial sector), and increasing interest in and support for space sciences in the general public, the private sector, and the media.

Membership, Structure, and Funders

ESSC members are acknowledged experts in all fields of space research and are nominated on the basis of their expertise, experience and achievements within the science community.
The ESSC is currently chaired by Professor Chris Rapley (University College London, UK) and includes 28 members across four panels:


  • Nabila Aghanim - Panel Chair (Université Paris-Sud, FR), cosmology CMB, reionisation, galaxy clusters
  • Ravit Helled (Center for Theoretical Astrophysics & Cosmology, University of Zurich, CH), exoplanets
  • Saskia Hekker (HITS, Zentrum für Astronomie, University of Heidelberg, DE), stellar physics
  • Michael Perryman(University College Dublin, IE), astrophysics
  • Manolis Plionis (National Observatory of Athens, GR), cosmology, galaxy formation
  • Juri Poutanen (Tuorla Observatory, University of Turku, FI), astrophysics
  • Floris van der Tak (SRON,NL), infrared & instrumentation


  • Anny Cazenave - Panel Chair (Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales, LEGOS, FR), oceanography, hydrology and climate, altimetry & space gravimetry
  • Camilla Brekke (UiT The Arctic University of Norway, NO), remote sensing, synthetic aperture radar, marine and sea ice applications
  • Gustau Camps-Valls (University of Valencia, ES), machine learning, earth observation
  • Michaela Hegglin (University of Reading, UK), Earth observations, atmospheric composition & transport, chemistry-climate coupling
  • Yann Kerr(CESBIO,FR), SMOS mission, land hydrology, land surfaces
  • Sindy Sterckx(VITO, BE), optical instrumentation and cal/val


  • Alexander Chouker - Panel Chair (Hospital of the Ludwig Maximilian University, DE), integrated physiology
  • Sarah Baatout (Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, BE), biology  
  • Kai Bongs(School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, UK), quantum physics, atom interferometry, optical clocks
  • Luca Cipelletti (Université de Montpellier, FR), soft matters, colloids
  • Marc Heppener (Consultant, FR), human spaceflight and exploration
  • Ann-Iren Kittang Jost(CIRiS, NTNU Social Research, NO), plants, interdisciplinary research, payload integration, operation
  • Zita Martins (Instituto Superior Técnico, IST, PT), astrobiology, cosmochemistry
  • Nicola Montano (University of Milano, UNIMI, IT) neurophysiology, internal medicine


  • Mahesh Anand - Panel Chair (The Open University, UK), moon
  • Vinciane Debaille, (ULB, BE), solar system composition, geochemistry, exploration
  • Sonia Fornasier, (LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, FR), small solar system bodies
  • Mauro Messerotti(INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Trieste, IT), space-geospace interactions, space weather, solar radio physics and radio astronomy
  • Christina Plainaki (ASI, IT), Outer Planets and icy moons, planetary space weather
  • Nicole Schmitz (DLR, DE), missions, instrumentation
  • Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber (University of Kiel, DE), heliophysics


The work of the ESSC is financially supported by the following Member Organisations:

  • Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI), Italy
  • Centre national d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), France
  • Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Spain
  • European Space Agency (ESA) Europe
  • Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNR), Luxembourg
  • Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), Belgium
  • Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung  (FWF), Austria
  • Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO), Belgium
  • Helmholtz Gemeinschaft (HGF), Germany
  • National Observatory of Athens (NOA), Greece
  • Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON), Netherlands
  • Norges Forskningsråd (RCN) and the Norwegian Space Agency (NOSA), Norway
  • Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (SNF), Switzerland
  • Suomen Akatemia/Finlands Akademi (AKA), Finland
  • Swedish National Space Agency (SNSA), Sweden
  • UK Space Agency, United Kingdom


ESSC-ESF Statement following the ESA Council at Ministerial level

The European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC) was represented by its Chair, Dr Athena Coustenis, and its Executive Scientific Secretary, Mr Nicolas Walter, at the ESA Ministerial Council, which took place in Luzern, Switzerland, 1 and 2 December 2016. The European Science Foundation was represented by its Chief Executive Dr. Jean-Claude Worms. [See more]

ESSC Contribution to the public consultation on a Space Strategy for Europe


Last April, the European Commission opened a public consultation on a Space Strategy for Europe. The objective of this public consultation is to obtain stakeholder views on the policy priorities, challenges and opportunities that could shape a future Space Strategy for Europe. [See more]

ESSC Recommendations on the Horizon 2020 SPACE Work programme for 2018-2020

The following document highlights the recommendations and input of the ESSC to the EC consultation for the 2018-2020 work programme of Horizon 2020 (H2020) SPACE. There are three main areas for which ESSC provides inputs: transversal issues that touch all aspects of the H2020 SPACE calls, Space Science and Technology related issues and Earth Observation (Copernicus) related issues.