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The Inter-Agency Consultative Group (IACG) for Space Sciences is an international forum in which multilateral coordination among  space science missions of its member agencies is discussed on an informal basis. The member agencies of the IACG are : the European Space Agency(ESA), the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), Japan, the then Intercosmos Council of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, now the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (RASA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The IACG was established in Padova, Italy in September 1981 with the prime objective to coordinate the missions of its member agencies to Comet Halley in 1986. During its  Phase 1, directed  to  Comet Halley,  the IACG successfully demonstrated the added value that multilateral coordination  brings to the overall scientific return of the various flight projects and the importance of disposing of  a focal point for discussion of common problems among the four agencies.

At its 6th plenary meeting  on 4 November 1986 in Padua that concluded the Halley phase, the IACG decided to further develop  inter-agency coordination activity and adopted the Solar Terrestrial Science Project as prime focus for its next Phase 2.
At the 16th  meeting held on December 10-11, 1996, at Cape Canaveral, Florida, the IACG discussed potential foci centered on Solar System Exploration   for  its future Phase 3  and undertook an organizational structure  which was completed and approved at its 17th plenary meeting in Moscow, December 10-11,1997.

At its 18th plenary meeting in Bern, Switzerland, on October 7-8, 1998  the IACG identified "Exploration of Small Bodies in the Solar System" as a specific focus within the Phase 3 theme on Solar System Exploration.

The 19th meeting was held in Okinawa, Japan, November 17-18, 1999.  The Heads of Delegation requested that in future  a new emphasis be given to forward consultations on, and coordination of, the strategic planning of its member  agencies in parallel to the traditional inter-Agency coordination of the preceeding phases. They set up  an  executive group to conduct a reflection on this and make  proposals on  future  directions and working procedures of the IACG. They also  decided to terminate those Panels and Working groups that had completed their task (cfr. Summary Conclusions).
The executive group presented its recommandations  and proposed new Terms of Reference in July, 2000 that were approved unanimously by the Heads of Delegation.

The 20th meeting was held in La Jolla, California on September 27-28, 2000. The IACG met in conformance to the rules established in the new Terms, and adopted a series of measures to implement the new objectives. The Heads of Delegation established three Task Groups on long term issues   and reviewed and confirmed / redirected or terminated the current  Working Groups (cfr. Summary Conclusions). In fulfillment of the La Jolla resolutions a new organizational  structure emerged.
The 21st meeting will be held in Padova (Italy) the birthplace of IACG, twenty years earlier.

Status of Phase 2

The Phase 2  on Solar Terrestrial Science  was terminated within IACG at the 20th meeting in La Jolla. The Heads of Delegation expressed the highest satisfaction at the scientific significance and value of the scientific output resulting from  the campaigns conducted so far under the aegis of IACG. A very significant progress had been made in the investigation of the solar-terrestrial plasma environment that had led to numerous scientific papers and several scientific conferences. However the on-going and future activities (enhanced by the entry in operation of Cluster and IMAGE) could better proceed and be further expanded within the framework offered by COSPAR, as they  no longer depended on the impulse and  support provided until now by IACG.

Phase 3 on Solar System Exploration

A two-pronged approach is pursued under the overall cover of a Working Group on Solar System Exploration. One prong lays  the  emphasis  on  the coordination of projects  in development or operation dedicated to the exploration of  Small Bodies (Comets and Asteroids). There are about 7 such projects to fly within the decade that would benefit substantially from coordination, exchange of information , mutual cooperation and from the experience acquired with proceeding projects of the four Agencies such as those directed to Comet Halley.
The other prong lays  the emphasis  on  advanced coordination of projects, still in an early state of realization, dedicated to the exploration of Mercury. These would be launched  later in the decade.

Related Activities

* Workshop on "International monitoring Programs for Asteroid and Comet Threat 
(IMPACT Workshop)
"  Turin Italy, June1-4,1999       (Sponsored by IACG)

* UNISPACE III, Vienna Austria, July 19-30,1999 COSPAR session on :
" Recent progress and future plans for solar system exploration"

Additional Information

* Terms of Reference
* IACG Organizational Structure 2000 (Working Groups, Task Groups)
* IACG Working Groups and Task Groups (membership, charters and plans)
* IACG Meetings, updated
* IACG Plenary minutes

Last Modified:
(V.M. & X.S. March 2001)