On the 18th of Febraury 2010, Solar Orbiter
has been selected by the ESA's
Science Programme Committee as one of the M-class missions that enter the
so-called ``definition phase'',
the last step before the final decision that will
determine which mission has to be implemented.
Two other missions were chosen to enter this pre-final stage:
, that will address the fundamental
questions concerning the nature of dark energy and dark matter; and
, whose main objective consists in
detecting extra-solar planets and hence to put constraints
on the frequency of planets around stars.
Among these three missions only two of them will be selected for the M-class
launch slots. The final decision will be taken around the mid-2011, when the
definition activities are expected to be completed. The Science
Programme Commettee will then be able to verifsy which mission fits within
the available budget, this appearing to be a crucial criterium in the
More information can be found
in the ESA Cosmic Vision programme.