Report from Washington, D.C.

U.S. and Europe to Cooperate on Space

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U.S. and Europe to Cooperate on Space NASA has signed a number of agreements to facilitate cooperation between the United States and Europe on matters relating to space.

A memorandum of understanding with the European Space Agency (ESA) signed last month allows NASA and ESA to exchange technical information and personnel, which will aid the eventual development of new space transportation systems. According to a Sept. 14 United Press International article, NASA officials expect ESA’s Ariane 5 (pictured) development and flight experience to provide valuable engineering analyses and technology concepts for NASA’s new launch and spacecraft systems.

NASA and the French Space Agency have signed agreements involving collaboration on four joint missions involving NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in Paris. CNES is responsible for shaping and implementing France’s space policy in Europe and for inventing future space systems, bringing space technologies to maturity, and guaranteeing France’s independent access to space.

The projects are:

  • A Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission scheduled to launch in 2013. This NASA-led project will provide the first direct measurements to address scientific questions about the evolution of the red planet. CNES will provide the solar wind electron analyzer sensor to measure solar wind and ionospheric electrons.
  • A four-spacecraft Magnetospheric MultiScale mission scheduled to launch in 2014. Led by NASA, the mission will take measurements to explore the fundamental physical processes involved with magnetic reconnection, particle acceleration, and turbulence on both the micro and meso scales in the Earth’s magnetosphere. CNES will provide portions of the instrument suite for the investigation.
  • Participation by U.S. scientists in data analysis of planetary observations from the CNES/ESA Convection Rotation and Planetary Transits mission launched in December 2006. NASA will provide follow-up ground observations by the Keck telescope in Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
  • A Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission to study and define potential cooperation on the Earth Science Decadal Survey mission. The project could give scientists the first comprehensive view of Earth’s freshwater bodies from space and more detailed measurements of the ocean surface than ever before, thereby enabling improved water management and climate predictions.

This article is part of Space Watch: October 2009 (Volume: 8, Issue: 10).