The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), now the International Council for Science, established its Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) during an international meeting in London in 1958. COSPAR's first Space Science Symposium was organised in Nice in January 1960. From the COSPAR website:
"COSPAR's objectives are to promote on an international level scientific research in space, with emphasis on the exchange of results, information and opinions, and to provide a forum, open to all scientists, for the discussion of problems that may affect scientific space research. These objectives are achieved through the organisation of Scientific Assemblies, publications and other means."
There are eight scientific commissions. I am now a member of Scientific Commission B: Space Studies of the Earth-Moon System, Planets, and Small Bodies of the Solar System. This covers "the planetary bodies of the solar system (including the Earth), especially evolutionary, dynamic and structural aspects; planetary atmospheres are included insofar as these are essential attributes of their main body; smaller bodies, including satellites, planetary rings, asteroids, comets, meteorites, and cosmic dust." It consists of five sub-commissions:
- B1: Small Bodies
- B2: International Coordination of Space Techniques for Geodesy
- B3: The Moon
- B4: Terrestrial Planets
- B5: Outer Planets and Satellites
COSPAR Scientific Assemblies are held every two years (even numbered years). These events attract currently between 2000 and 3000 participants. The 42nd Assembly will be held 14 - 22 July 2018 in Pasadena, California, and I've been helping to organise the giant planet sessions. Previous assemblies during my academic career have included:
2016 - Istanbul, Turkey - sadly cancelled at short notice, so I didn't get to visit Istanbul.
2014 - Moscow, Russia
2012 - Mysore, India
2010 - Bremen, Germany - my second COSPAR meeting.
2008 - Montréal, Canada
2006 - Beijing, China - my first experience of COSPAR as an ESA-sponsored student.
Exciting times ahead!