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
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.
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.
Vienna Austria, July 19-30,1999 COSPAR session on :
" Recent progress and future plans for solar system exploration"
(V.M. & X.S. March 2001)