The European Space Agency (ESA) is an inter-governmental organisation which was established in 1975 which took the place of European Space Research Organisation and the European Launcher Development Organisation. The main motive behind the organisation is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.
It has a space plan in the area of science, earth observation, telecommunications, and space segment technologies, around infrastructures, space transport systems and microgravity research.
Member States of European Space Agency (ESA)
It has 22 Member States. By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, it can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Canada takes part in some projects under a Cooperation agreement. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia has cooperation agreements with ESA.
Functions of European Space Agency (ESA)
• Exploitation of space science.
• Research and technology to be deployed for peaceful purposes.
• Defines and implements a long-term European Space Policy, so that Europe remains competitive in the area of space technology.
• Co-operation with various partners in order to pool resources and share the work to boast up the effectiveness of the programmes.
Achievement of European Space Agency (ESA)
• Artemis — Europe's most advanced telecommunication satellite.
• Cluster II — a group of four probes studying the magnetosphere.
• COROT — a space telescope for detecting rocky exo-planets larger than Earth. Launched Dec 2006. A project led by the French space agency CNES.
• CryoSat-2 — a three-year radar altimetry mission launched on 8 April 2010 to determine variations in the thickness of the Earth’s continental ice sheets and marine ice cover; built to replace Cryosat after launch failure.
• Envisat — is the world's largest and most complex environmental satellite.
• ERS-2 — is an earth-observing satellite launched in 1995. It is the successor to ERS-1.
• GIOVE-A — Experimental satellite launched Dec 2005 as forerunner for the Galileo positioning system.
• GIOVE-B — the second Galileo in-orbit validation satellite launched on April 2008.
• GOCE — a mission designed to measure the Earth's gravity field, launched on March 2009.
• Herschel Space Observatory — a space telescope observing in the far-infrared.
• Hubble Space Telescope — built and operated in cooperation with NASA.
• INTEGRAL — is the first space observatory that can simultaneously observe objects in gamma rays, X-rays and visible light.
• Mars Express — a space probe to Mars.
• MetOp-A — is the first polar orbiting satellite dedicated to operational meteorology. A satellite to study temperature and humidity, wind speed and direction, ozone and other trace gases on Earth.
• Planck — The next generation Cosmic Microwave Background explorer, after COBE & WMAP. launched in may of 2009.
• Proba-2 — the second satellite in the PROBA series, launched in 2009 together with SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite).
• Rosetta — a space probe launched in 2004 that will explore comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.
• SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) — a space-based observatory to study the sun (together with NASA).
• SMOS (Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity satellite) — the second Earth Explorer mission launched on November of 2009 designed to measure Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity.
• Venus Express — a space probe to Venus which was launched in Nov 2005 and arrived in orbit around Venus in April 2006.
• XMM-Newton — an X-ray observatory satellite which participates in the Cosmic Evolution Survey.