Summary: Response to the call for White Papers for the definition of the L2 and L3 missions in the ESA Science Programme
Motivation for a brief white paper on space astrometry
The call for white papers for the definition of the L2 and L3 missions in ESA's science programme asks for the development of science themes for these future large missions. With the launch of Gaia to occur later in 2013, it is appropriate to assess the full scientific potential of Gaia in the light of its actual in orbit performance, before embarking on a detailed road mapping exercise for the next leap in astrometry. We anticipate the production of the final science data products from Gaia in 2021/22 and thus a range of new questions to emerge around 2025. This implies the need for the next leap in observational capability in the 2030+ time frame – consistent with an L3 astrometry mission around 2034. Thus, in this short white paper we outline a few broad discovery themes that could be addressed by such a mission and stress the need to keep the ESA and European expertise on space astrometry up to date in order to make sure that in due time suitable proposals for the next space astrometry mission can be put forward.
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