The ESA’s fifth call for medium-class missions (M5) is in its full study phase. Three finalists, EnVision, SPICA, and THESEUS, remain from more than two dozen proposals. A selection will be made in the summer of 2021, with a launch date tentatively set for 2032. In February, the author attended the EnVision conference in Paris, and reported on the progress of that consortium. The THESEUS meeting is meant to be in Malaga, Spain, in May, and the SPICA collaboration was scheduled for March 9–11 in Leiden, The Netherlands. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic intervened and the physical meeting was cancelled. Instead, the group met via Zoom teleconference.
Cosmic Vision is the moniker for the ESA’s current space science campaign. Formulated in 2005, it succeeded the Horizon 2000 Plus campaign and described a number of different mission classes in the fields of astronomy, solar system exploration, and fundamental physics beyond 2015. Early on, it was decided that their overall scientific goals would center around four fundamental questions: