Jean-Yves Le Gall recalled that CNES’s actions in space research in support of the French scientific community are built on international cooperation serving ambitious science missions around the world. In the field of solar system exploration, he pointed to the forthcoming landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars with the French SuperCam instrument on board, the Solar Orbiter mission now beginning to acquire science data as it approaches the Sun, the eagerly awaited results of scientific investigation of samples collected from asteroid Ryugu by Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission and the Euclid mission that will seek to unlock the secrets of dark matter and dark energy 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.
He also underlined how CNES is supporting the 14 French science experiments set to be conducted on the International Space Station (ISS) by French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet starting this spring. He stressed in particular the agency’s commitment from the outset to studying our planet and its changing climate, an effort it is continuing today through concrete actions like the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) to which 27 space agencies and governmental organizations have already signed up, its involvement in the future SWOT (Surface Water Ocean Topography) mission and, this year, the Hemera-3 and Strateole-2 scientific balloon flight campaigns to conduct research into Earth’s upper atmosphere,
Concluding his address, Jean-Yves Le Gall said: “2021 marks the 60th anniversary of CNES’s inception and I am very proud to report on our activities, which owe so much to our agency’s engineers and to our national space ecosystem, research scientists and institutions, downstream sectors, start-ups, administrations and of course our international partners. Our conviction is that they are all part of the same space environment, and that investing in science, research and development is the only way to keep innovation going and to push the boundaries of progress. Science is our cultural heritage and our future, and we must preserve it.”