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International Cooperation in space science


Specific challenge: Europe has a long-standing tradition of international collaboration in space sciences with missions open to international partnerships or by participating to missions of partners (e.g. with USA, Japan, Russia, China, and India). With the increasing international competition in space science Europe should continue to play a leading role in planetary science shaping the research in the field including the elaboration of planetary protection guidelines.

Scope: In line with the objectives of the Union's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with space powers active in planetary science. The diverse range of competences spread among universities, research institutes, and space agencies in different countries in the world, should be harnessed in this proposal in view of establishing a coordinated authoritative position in the planetary protection research field. Networking, experts meetings and workshops resulting in recommendations for further action and guidelines for future missions are part of the effort.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 1 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: This activity would allow reviewing the planetary protection status of outer Solar System bodies including small Solar System bodies. That may include to establish a new categorisation and the measures that should be taken (or not) to protect them from Earth-sourced biological and organic contamination. Addressing the categorisations of future missions to the outer Solar System and making recommendations will help improving the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Planetary Protection Policy and help to resolve scientific uncertainties associated with current knowledge. This action should provide the basis for a regular exchange of information on the issue of planetary protection and identify also opportunities for European scientists to participate in future international missions.

Type of action: Coordination and support action