Dear LOFT Colleagues,
as you all know, in its 18th February meeting the ESA Science Program Committee endorsed the Advisory Structure's recommendation of PLATO as M3 mission.
The LOFT Consortium Board (the national representatives) met in Amsterdam last week to analyse the outcome of the M3 selection.
Based on the ESA Technical and Programmatic review for the presentation, the scientific reports by the Advisory Structure and the Q&A session with the Astronomy Working Group and Fundamental Physics Advisory Group, the feedbacks for LOFT in M3 have all been very positive and LOFT was explicitly ranked 2nd by the AWG.
The LOFT science was fully recognized as very strong and the mission suitable to address it.
The LOFT technology was evaluated as mature and the mission feasible within the boundaries of an ESA M-class mission.
The non-overlap between the LOFT science and the science case of the Athena mission was also clearly acknowledged.
Such excellent performance of LOFT in the M3 competition could be achieved only thanks to the deep, highly professional and enthusiastic work by the whole LOFT teams, for which we would like to congratulate and thank you once more.
The high level of readiness and maturity of the mission and payload design, as well as the clean and solid assessment of the unique science case still make LOFT a very competitive mission with a compelling science case.
For this reason, the LOFT Consortium Board confirmed the intention to continue the development of this mission and aim at the upcoming M4 ESA launch slot (2025).
This is only slightly delayed with respect to M3 (2024) and we are firmly convinced that the dense matter and strong field gravity science have to be addressed by a mission like LOFT.
As soon as the time-line for the M4 will become available (the call is expected in a few months) we will call a general consortium meeting to get organized for the proposal preparation.
We look forward for your continued support to the science case of LOFT and stay tuned at http://www.isdc.unige.ch/loft !