The latest edition of Aviation Week and Space Technology reports that ESA will request only 3.5% budget increase for the science program. This reportedly will impact ESA’s Cosmic Vision program, which consists of a medium class (300M euro) and a large class (650M euro mission) mission to be launched by 2018. If this budget goes forward, the large class mission could not fly before 2020.
If ESA partners with NASA on an outer planet flagship mission, it will be through the large class mission. (NASA has recently pushed its launch target for this mission to ~2020, reportedly to enable it to synch up with ESA funding.)
ESA appears to be on target to secure partnerships with other space agencies that would enable all the currently planned ExoMars mission to launch in 2016.
ESA has a website on the candidate missions for its Cosmic Vision program: http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=100
From the website, the previously planned upcoming key decision dates were:
Feb 2009 – Decide on target for outer planets flagship mission
Oct/Nov 2009 – Select two missions for each mission class for further definition
Fall 2011 – Select final missions for each mission class
The current missions being considered are (copied from the website):
Large class candidates:
- LAPLACE/EJSM - carry out an in-depth study of Europa and the Jupiter system
- LISA - detect and observe gravitational waves
- TandEM/TSSM - carry out an in-depth investigation of Titan
- XEUS/IXO -potential successor to XMM-Newton, ESA's current X-ray observatory (ESA, NASA and JAXA)
Medium class candidates:
- Cross-Scale - quantify the coupling in plasmas between different physical scales
- Euclid - Mapping the geometry of the dark Universe
- Marco Polo - return a sample from a Near-Earth Object belonging to a primitive class to the Earth
- PLATO - PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars for a full statistical analysis of exoplanetary systems
- SPICA - probe galaxy, star and planetary system formation, as well as the evolution of dust and gas in the interstellar medium of our own and distant galaxies.