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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 5:31 EDT

Fundamental Physics Roadmap Released

August 12, 2010

After an in-depth consultation with the European scientific community, the ESA-appointed Fundamental Physics Roadmap Advisory Team (FPR-AT) has released its final report.

The 51 page document includes a series of recommendations stating priorities among current and candidate future space missions and relative technologies in the field of fundamental physics, within ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 plan.

The diverse scientific fields within fundamental physics covered by the roadmap are:

* Tests of fundamental laws and principles;
* Detection and study of gravitational waves;
* Quantum mechanics in a clean environment;
* Cold atom physics, new frequency standards and quantum technologies;
* The fundamental physics of dark energy and dark matter;
* Space-based efforts in astroparticle physics.

The first call for missions under the Cosmic Vision plan, issued in 2007, attracted a large number of proposals from the fundamental physics community. The obvious vitality of this scientific community in Europe and the large demand for space-based studies of fundamental physics led to the creation of the FPR-AT by ESA.

The Advisory Team’s task was to advise ESA and to support the community by developing a roadmap in preparation for the next call for missions.

The first step in the consultation process was a call for white papers in April 2009. This was followed by a series of meetings of the FPR-AT, with the aim of producing a draft roadmap that could be discussed by the entire community. Finally, 120 physicists attended an open workshop, held at ESTEC on 21-22 January 2010, to discuss the draft document. After taking into account the inputs from the workshop and subsequent discussions with individuals, the Advisory Team was able to produce the final version of the roadmap.

“The work of the FPR-AT has been completed and the release of the roadmap is very timely in light of the recent announcement of the second call for missions under Cosmic Vision,” said Fabio Favata, Head of ESA Science Planning and Community Coordination Office.

The roadmap concludes: “Europe is presently holding a strong position in the field of fundamental physics in space. The Advisory Team strongly believes that, if ESA, national space agencies and the entire community work together to address the recommendations proposed in the Fundamental Physics Roadmap, Europe will have a thriving fundamental physics community, contributing with the rest of the world both to the understanding of the most fundamental aspects of Nature, and to the development of very promising technologies.”

Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 is ESA’s long-term plan for space science missions. New missions to be implemented as part of this plan are selected from proposals received from the European scientific community.

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