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ESA forms new Earth observation advisory group

22 March 2018

Science strategy for our planet

ESA's former Earth Science Advisory Committee has been changed, in name and in fact. Now called the Advisory Committee for Earth Observation, it is the senior advisory body to the Director of Earth Observation Programmes, acting as the Director General's representative, on all matters concerning Earth sciences included in ESA's Earth observation science programme.

Composed of 13 members and one chair plus two ex-officio members, all of whom are senior European scientific experts, the Advisory Committee for Earth Observation (ACEO) is the main interpreter of the views and needs of the European scientific community on access to space experimentation and data exploitation in Earth science programmes.

As stated in the Terms of Reference, its main tasks are to advise and/or make recommendations on a series of science-related activities and projects, including the formulation and updating of the medium- and long-term Earth Observation Science Strategy in Europe, the selection (and extension) and formulation of future Earth observation missions, the impact of Space 4.0 (including New Space) on ESA Earth observation programmes, and the contribution of ESA Earth observation missions to address major societal issues, among many others.

The new Chairman of the group is Professor Martin Visbeck, from GEOMAR. The Chairman and members of ACEO, as well as the observers, are appointed by the Director General in consultation with the Director of Earth Observation Programmes. The PB-EO is informed of the appointments.

Membership appointments are for a period of two years with the possibility of extending to a second term. The Chair is occupied for two years, independent of previous normal membership, with the possibility of a one-year extension.

The Committee meets at dates and places jointly agreed between the Chairman and the Director of Earth Observation Programmes, providing advice and/or recommendations on the items referred to it by the Director. The committee met for the first time last week, at ESA's ESRIN centre in Frascati, Italy.

In addition to programmatic advice, a new standing agenda item called "Frontiers of Science" was introduced, where topics of particular scientific interest will be discussed. In providing advice and/or making recommendations, ACEO takes into consideration the views expressed by its ad-hoc Working Groups or Peer Review Panels set up by ACEO, if deemed necessary, to advise on specific, well-defined topics.

Professor Visbeck stated that, "I am extremely excited by this new role in providing advice to ESA's Earth observation portfolio. ESA has the potential to provide space data and integrated information on pressing societal challenges. These include climate change, and diverse pressure on our planet's ecosystems. My personal interests are the marine and ocean portfolio.

"I strongly believe that working with this new advisory committee we can support ESA's powerful Earth observation programmes."

Members of the new ACEO