June 8, 2016

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s Proxima mission High-schools put finishing touches to experiments at Toulouse Space Centre for launch to the ISS

As part of astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s Proxima mission on the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled from November 2016 to May 2017, high-school pupils are at the Toulouse Space Centre on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 June to put the finishing touches to their experiments. The youngsters are from five schools selected after a call for projects in March 2015 by the agency’s Youth Education department.

In Toulouse, the pupils will finalize the flight models of their three innovative educational experiments. Final integration will be performed with life science experts from the GSBMS space biology and medicine group at the Toulouse Medical School. The experiments will subsequently be delivered to ESA and then to NASA for launch to the ISS on Thomas Pesquet’s mission along with the six French technology experiments devoted chiefly to life sciences, scientific research and astronaut health monitoring, prepared and coordinated by CNES’s CADMOS centre for the development of microgravity applications and space operations.

The schools’ experiments are designed to provide a visual illustration of the specific effects of weightlessness. The CatalISS experiment from the Lycée Lachenal in Annecy concerns protein digestion by enzymes; Ceres, developed jointly by three schools—the Lycée Charles de Gaulle in Dijon, the Lycée Léon Blum in Le Creusot and the Lycée Pierre Paul Riquet in Saint-Orens—aims to demonstrate the influence of gravity on seed growth; and CrISStal by the Lycée de la Mer in Gujan-Mestras will be looking at crystal growth in microgravity conditions.

All of these experiments have been developed to fit the special size, mass and equipment and crew safety constraints of the ISS, as well as operational criteria. Once aboard the station, Thomas Pesquet will be conducting this programme of educational experiments employing detailed procedures drawn up by experts at CNES and ESA. Classes will be able to replicate the experiments on the ground and compare their results with those obtained on the station, using educational kits provided by CNES.

This project ties in with CNES’s mission to educate and get youngsters interested in science. The agency’s Youth Education department offers numerous educational projects in its domains of interest for 10-to-25-year-olds to pursue in class, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, or in their leisure time with local non-profit associations. Every year, 200,000 youngsters take part in learning activities organized by CNES and 2,000 teachers are trained to use the teaching tools it develops.

Pascale Bresson Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 75 39 pascale.bresson@cnes.fr
Julien Watelet Tel. +33 (0)1 44 76 78 37 julien.watelet@cnes.fr