European Space Agency

Europe's gateway to space


ESA is the first thing people think about when someone mentions European space exploration – an unique agency formed by 22 European member states. While it’s not an agency of the European Union – most of its members are also a part of the EU and ESA closely cooperates with it, most notably on the Galileo satellite navigation and Copernicus earth observation programmes.

Mission highlights

These are only a few of many missions of the European Space Agency. For a full list see the ESA missions website.


Primary observations Website Status Comments
XMM-Newton X-ray XMM Newton website Active Largest space observatory launched by ESA to date
INTEGRAL Gamma-ray INTEGRAL website Active International mission lead by ESA, the first telescope to observe targets in Gamma rays, X-rays and visible light
Gaia Astrometry Gaia website Active Building the largest space catalog of astronomical objects
SOHO Solar observatory SOHO ESA website Active NASA’s mission, ESA partnering
Visible Hubble ESA website
Hubble image archive
Active NASA’s mission, ESA partnering
James Webb
Space Telescope
Infrared JWST ESA website To be launched in 2018 Collaborative NASA, ESA, CSA mission
Solar Orbiter Solar observatory SO ESA website To be launched in 2018 Will become the closest man-made object to the Sun

Planetary science & deep space

Destination Website Status Comments
Rosetta / Philae Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko Rosetta website
Rosetta blog
Completed First mission to orbit a comet, first landing on a comet
Venus Express Mercury Venus Express website Completed Discovered active vulcanism on Venus and an evidence of past oceans
ExoMars Mars orbit & surface ESA Mars exploration website Active / Completed / Planned Mission is composed of: Trace Gas Orbiter (2016), Schiaparelli lander (2016), Surface Platform (2020) and Rover (2020). 2016 mission is the largest spacecraft to ever reach Mars
JUICE Icy moons of Jupiter JUICE website Planned First mission with ice-penetrating radar, designed to study ice and oceans beneath the surface of Europa, Ganymede and Calisto
BepiColombo Mercury BepiColombo website Planned Largest spacecraft to ever use ion engines. BepiColombo is a joint ESA-JAXA mission composed of unique spacecraft that will split into two entering different orbits around Mercury


Objective Website Status Comments
Sentinels Wide scope of earth observation Copernicus Programme homepage
Detailed information about Sentinel satellites
Active / Planned European Commission’s programme composed of multiple spacecraft belonging to 6 major families, collecting earth observation data from the entire globe
Cluster Study of the Earth’s magnetosphere Cluster website Active Mission composed of 4 independent spacecrafts
Envisat Radar and multi-spectral Earth Observation Detailed information about Envisat Completed Largest civilian Earth Observation satellite

European Space Agency HQ


European Space Research and Technology Centre


European Space Operations Centre


Centre for Earth Observation


European Astronaut Centre


European Space Astronomy Centre

Redu Centre

Part of ESA’s network of the ground stations used to control and test satellites on orbit. Also a location of the Space Weather Data Centre storing space weather data archive and an infrastructure for related services.


European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications

Guiana Space Centre

Le Centre Spatial Guyanais, Europe’s space port in French Guiana co-owned by CNES and ESA with Arianespace facilities and a military base of Forces armées en Guyane, securing the spaceport.


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