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 ESSC provides unbiased, expert advice to the European Space Agency, the European Commission, EU national space agencies, and other decision-makers in the space domain. It has become the reference body in Europe for independent scientific advice on space matters and a focal point for international research collaboration.

The ESSC aims to:

  • Underpin the role of space sciences and technology as pillars of the European space venture
  • Support European visibility and enhance the position of Europe in global space initiatives (also taking national priorities into account)
  • Assess the status and perspectives of European space activities on a regular basis

Additional information on the ESSC’s mission and vision can be found in the ESSC leaflet.

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 Dr. Athena Coustenis (Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, France) and includes 31 members across four panels:

Solar System and Exploration Panel – SSEP

  • Hermann Opgenoorth (Swedish Institute of Space Physics, SE), Earth sciences and space physics (Panel Chair)
  • Mahesh Anand (The Open University, UK), Moon
  • Ester Antonucci (Torino Observatory of Astronomy, IT), solar physics
  • Luisa Maria Lara (Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia-CSIC, ES), planetary sciences
  • Franck Montmessin (CNRS, FR), terrestrial planets
  • Kari Muinonen (University of Helsinki, FI), small bodies
  • Gerhard Paar (JOANNEUM RESEARCH, AT), robotics
  • Petra Rettberg, (DLR, DE), astro/exobiology, biology
  • Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber (University of Kiel, DE), heliophysics

Life and Physical Sciences-LPSP

  • Dominique Langevin (University Paris Sud, FR) fluid physics and foams (Panel Chair)
  • Sarah Baatout (Belgian Nuclear Research Centre, BE), biology 
  • Alexander Chouker (Hospital of the Ludwig Maximilian University, DE), integrated physiology
  • Berndt Feuerbacher (DLR, DE), solid state physics
  • Helen J. Fraser (The Open University, UK), ices & physical sciences
  • Anne Pavy-Le Traon (University Hospital of Toulouse, FR), neurology
  • Roberto Piazza (Milano Politecnico, IT), colloids
  • Peter Preu (DLR, DE), materials
  • Hubertus Thomas (DLR, DE), complex plasmas

Earth Sciences –ESP

  • Ian Brown (Stockholm University, SE), glaciology (Panel Chair)
  • Laurence Eymard (Pierre and Marie Curie University, FR), ocean/atmosphere
  • Andreas Kääb (Oslo University, NO), EO and satellite based glaciology
  • Maarten Krol (Wageningen University, NL), atmospheric physics. & chemistry, climate
  • Rosemary Morrow (Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales, LEGOS, FR), ocean altimtery
  • Sindy Sterckx (VITO, BE), optical instrumentation and cal/val
  • Pepijn Veefkind (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, NL), Sentinel algorithms and climate

Astronomy and Fundamental Physics Panel - AFP

  • Stéphane Udry (University of Geneva, CH) exoplanets, (Panel Chair)
  • Conny Aerts (KU Leuven, BE), asteroseismology
  • Nabila Aghanim (Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, FR), cosmology, reionisation, galaxy clusters
  • Paolo de Bernardis (La Sapienza University, IT), Ir/sub-mm astronomy
  • Chris Done (University of Durham, UK), astrophysics
  • Michael Perryman (North University College,UK), astrophysics
  • Manolis Plionis, (National Observatoris of Athens, GR), cosmology, extragalatic astrophysics
  • Jordi Torra (Universidad de Barcelona, ES), galactic astronomy & astrometry

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
  • Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, (DASTI), Denmark
  • European Space Agency (ESA) Europe
  • Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNR), Luxembourg
  • Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), Belgium
  • Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO), Belgium
  • Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung  (FWF), Austria
  • Helmholtz Gemeinschaft, Germany
  • Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness  (MICINN), Spain
  • Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO), Netherlands
  • Norges Forskningsråd and the Norwegian Space Centre, Norway
  • Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (SNF), Switzerland
  • Suomen Akatemia/Finlands Akademi (AKA), Finland
  • Swedish National Space Board (SNSB), 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.