The project “European Satellite PArtnership for Computing Ephemerides” (ESPaCE) started in June 2011 for four years and gathered seven institutions : IMCCE-Paris Observatory (coordinator), Royal Observatory of Belgium, Joint Institute VLBI in Europe, DLR and Technical University in Berlin, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées-CNES in Toulouse and Technical University of Delft. Four institutions among them have been partners in the JRA1 structure of Europlanet (Mission support) and this new FP7 project was a wonderful opportunity for further investigations in their domains. ESPaCE aims at strengthening these collaborative activities in the domain of the development of ephemerides and reference systems for natural satellites and spacecraft. An important part of the project will consist in the extraction and analysis of observations acquired by spacecraft in order to better cover the dynamics involved in the ephemerides construction. These observations will be combined with digitized ground-based astrometry in order to improve the constraints on the dynamics and the physics of these solar system objects. We will use all these data to provide improved ephemerides for natural satellites and spacecraft and to characterize rotation properties of selected satellites. We also intend to investigate how to bring further information from new technologies in particular VLBI and Laser Ranging (LR) techniques. All the results and documents will be made available using standard formats (VO standard, SPICE kernels) for the use by space agencies, planetary scientists, or the public.
ESPaCE board: J.-E. Arlot, V. Lainey, W. Thuillot (IMCCE-Paris Obs.), V. Dehant, P. Rosenblatt (ORB), J. Oberst (TUB), L. Gurvits (JIVE), B. Vermeersen (TUD), J.-C. Marty (CNES), H. Hussmann (DLR)