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ESA's Voyage 2050 Long-term Plan for Education and Public Engagement (ESA's Voyage 2050 White Paper)

Russo, Pedro; Alwast, Łukasz; Lindberg Christensen, Lars; van Dishoeck, Ewine; Eriksson, Urban; Gomez, Edward; Rivero Gonzalez, Jorge; Heward, Anita; Hurley, Mairéad; Liebl, Veronika; Noronha, Ana; Ortiz-Gil, Amelia; Pomierny, Jan; Pompea, Stephen; Sandrelli, Stefano; Sandu, Oana; Ings, Simon

This white paper responds to the Voyage 2050 Call for White Papers from the Science Programme of the European Space Agency (ESA) and argues that education, communication and public engagement (hereafter EPE) should have priority in the Voyage 2050 planning cycle.

The ESA Science’s Voyage 2050 missions promise insights into the big existential questions of our era: the prevalence of life in the universe; the nature of space and time; and the intertwined nature of matter, energy and gravity. It is likely that innovations in the acquisition, handling and processing of vast data sets will drive these themes to scientific maturity in the next decades. They offer us a timely opportunity to underline the relevance of space sciences to everyday life and thinking.

More generally, space science is maturing to the point where it contributes to every major aspect of our cultural discourse. Citizens need information, resources and opportunities to actively participate in that discourse, and ESA Science can provide these.

This white paper is a modest attempt to support ESA Science to better engage with society. We believe ESA’s Voyage 2050 programme teams have a responsibility to represent Europe’s social and cultural diversity, and our suggestions are conceived in that spirit: to support ESA Science’s complex task of engaging a hugely diverse audience in the complex issues of planning, building and operating fascinating space missions.

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