Terms of Reference and composition of SSAC

The Space Science Advisory Committee (SSAC) is the senior advisory body to the Director of Science, acting as the Director General’s representative, on all matters concerning space science included in the mandatory science programme of ESA. It is the main interpreter of the views and needs of the European scientific community as regards access to space experimentation and usage of the science data of the mandatory science programme.

The main tasks of SSAC are to advise and/or make recommendations (including ranking, as appropriate) on:

  • the needs of the scientific community for access to space for their research;
  • scientific activities during the definition, implementation, operations and post operations phases of the projects/missions of ESA’s mandatory science programme;
  • the formulation and updating of medium- and long-term space science policy in Europe in regard to the interests of the scientific community;
  • the priorities of the scientific community in the selection and formulation of future space science missions;
  • the scientific studies and activities required to lay the foundations for future missions, taking account of the recommendations of the Working Groups.
  • the selection of new scientific projects.

The SSAC also has the highest-level advisory capacity, through the Director of Science, for matters to be treated at the level of the Science Programme Committee, which may also request advice on issues of a scientific nature.

The SSAC provides advice and/or makes recommendations on items referred to it by the Director of Science. Members of the Committee may however raise issues they wish to discuss. In providing advice and/or making recommendations, the SSAC takes into consideration the views expressed by the Working Groups which are set up to advise on all scientific matters in their respective disciplines.

The SSAC meets at dates and places jointly agreed between the Chair and the Director of Science, but at least about two weeks before every meeting of the Science Programme Committee (SPC). ESA will cover the cost of travel and subsistence in connection with these meetings.

The SSAC is composed of twelve European scientific experts. Membership must reflect an equitable balance across their main disciplines, while at the same time being restricted to scientists of international stature. The members are chosen from within Member States.

The Director General, in consultation with the Director of Science, appoints the Chair and the members of the SSAC.