Cooperation is afoot between two major agencies, those being the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)—the Senior Scientific Advisor for the ESA, Mark McCaughrean, divulged this plan for additional collaboration by both agencies for upcoming space missions.
Certainly the ISRO's successful launch of 104 satellites has proven to be a highly positive event for the Indian space agency, with McCaughrean stating that the ISRO precision in placing satellites as well as cost reduction played an important role in furthering cooperation between the two bureaus.
With the ESA planning 15 space missions in the not-too-distant future, to include a 2018 launch of the Bepe Colombo to Mercury and in 20022 JUICE heading to Jupiter, collaboration is definitely in the card for the agencies.
Let's not forget that ESA had previously collaborated with ISRO on the Chandrayaan-1 mission to Moon and has engaged in collaborative projects with 22 countries that have included the US, China, Russia, Japan and India.
ESA's Bepe Colombo mission will be the first probe to Mercury in 2018 and is a joint mission between ESA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and is challenging in that place the spacecraft in a stable orbit around Mercury, the Sun's substantial gravity pull will pose a significant challenge in accomplishing such a monumental task.
Bepe Colombo will then be followed four years later with JUICE (Jupiter Icy moons Explorer), with the plan calling for this spacecraft to make detailed observations of the giant gas planet, with three years of examination being called for by ESA, to include the planet's three moons: Ganymede, Europa and Callisto.
Regarding ESA's Gaia mission, McCaughrean said that this is an ambitious space mission that will scan a six-dimensional map of the Milky Way galaxy of about one billion stars—that's approximately one percent of the Galactic stellar population. Also being prepared is the Euclid mission, which will observe billions of galaxies and will map out and measure dark matter and dark energy which constitutes roughly about 80 percent of the mass of the Universe. Studies on dark matter reveal that the universe today is expanding faster than in the past and such expansion is possible only if the universe contained enough energy to overcome gravity (the dark energy).
To assist in gravitational waves detection, the government of India is working on a proposal to establish a LIGO detector, all part of plan to decipher the enigmas of black holes and the universe. According to McCaughrean, ESA also has a program to build their own gravitational wave detector by the year 2030—this is called the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna mission, hence the aforementioned acronym, and will be using laser technologies to observe and measure these waves.
Additional article information courtesy of The Better India online infosite.