October 10, 2017

CNES hosts 143rd ESO Council

Tuesday 10 October, the 143rd Council of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) was held for the first time at CNES Head Office in Paris. ESO is the pre-eminent intergovernmental science and technology organization in astronomy, with an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities for astronomy. It also plays a leading role in promoting and organizing cooperation in astronomical research.

In his welcome address to the Council, Gilles Rabin, CNES’s Director of Innovation, Applications and Science, began by saluting Patrick Roche, the President of the ESO Council, its new Director General Xavier Barcons and Council members. He then detailed CNES’s role shaping and executing the French government’s space policy and implementing it within a European framework. More specifically, he pointed to the agency’s science missions and how it conducts them with international and industry partners, research organizations, research laboratories, academia and other agencies, and the role of its teams in developing and executing these missions.

He next explained the role of the various bodies involved in managing the scientific community’s human and technical resources, such as ESA’s Programme Committees and CNES’s own Science Programmes Committee (CPS), as illustrated by the recent successes of ESA’s Herschel, Planck, GAIA and Rosetta-Philae missions, as well as its PHARAO and Microscope fundamental physics programmes.

Gilles Rabin also hailed the close coordination between ground-based and space-based observation, going further than just follow-up by pooling approaches and merging data. This new approach started with ESA missions like GAIA and is set to continue with the Euclid, PLATO and Athena missions. He concluded: “CNES and ESO share the same vision for the development of science, and together with other European space agencies we are going to pursue this cooperation in the planning of future missions.”