In his introductory remarks, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall reviewed the main events in space science of recent months. Despite the major disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, numerous space science projects reached key milestones. In Earth sciences, CNES’s Board of Directors gave the go-ahead for the Trishna mission with India to observe the surface of the planet at high spatial and temporal resolution in the thermal infrared. The flight validation review of the first Strateole 2 stratospheric balloon flight campaign was held remotely on 7 May with all of the science partners, including from the United States. In universe sciences, the flight model of the Near Infrared SpectroPhotometer (NISP) was delivered on 19 May for integration on the Euclid satellite, a medium-class mission of ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme. The last publications regarding the collaboration on Planck have just been released with a series of articles detailing data processing and reviewing the mission’s cosmology results.
The current unprecedented situation has also highlighted how space is helping to tackle environmental issues. CNES gave testimony for a hearing at the National Assembly on changes in pollution levels during the lockdown, taking the opportunity to present results from Earth-observation missions, Copernicus satellites (Sentinel-5P for nitrogen dioxide) and IASI instruments (carbon monoxide, ammonia and methane).
With CNES’s 2016-2020 ‘Innovation & Inspiration’ Objectives and Performance Contract (OPC) soon set to reach its term, preparations have begun for the 2021-2025 OPC. CNES submitted its self-assessment report on 20 March to HCERES, the High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education, for vetting ahead of the 2021-2025 OPC.
The CPS was then given a detailed progress report on CNES’s scientific programmes in the fields of universe and Earth sciences, and a status check on the agency’s space exploration and human spaceflight actions and projects.