News and Comments about Life
ESA is looking for ideas to use the International Space Station as a platform to conduct research into global climate change. The International Space Station (ISS) is a manned orbital platform with a permanent crew of six. Its assembly will be completed next year, providing a multipurpose research facility in low orbit until 2015 and possibly beyond. Europe’s scientific community is already using the ISS in a multitude of areas such as life and microgravity sciences, and now Earth science and climate change initiatives are to be considered too. Potentially, it can be used as an observation platform for studies into global change, supplementing observations from dedicated satellites.
“The ISS is the obvious laboratory on which, with which and from which we can really help our planet, understand it and develop countermeasures to protect it, and to protect ourselves,” said Simonetta Di Pippo, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight.
“On the ISS we are developing and testing technologies that find a direct application in improving life back on Earth. As we are about to complete the ISS and look into extending its lifetime to 2020 and beyond, using it as a platform to collect data and study Earth phenomena is the clear demonstration that human spaceflight does serve terrestrial needs.
“This is the case since the first astronauts realised how fragile our Earth is as seen from space. I hope therefore that this Call for Ideas finds a lot of resonance within the Earth science community and I am looking forward to many interesting proposals.”
Instruments can be attached outside the Station, especially on Europe’s Columbus laboratory, as well as positioned inside to view through windows. The orbit inclination of 51.6° and altitude of 350–460 km are different to those of most Earth observation satellites, offering other ground patterns over an area that covers about 95% of Earth’s population.
ESA has issued a Call for Ideas to gauge the interest in deploying remote-sensing instruments for global change experiments on the ISS. Depending on the level of interest and the suitability of the research proposals, it may be followed by a specific Announcement of Opportunity for instruments or multi-user payloads.