December 3, 2020


Thursday 3 December, CNES’s Science Programmes Committee (CPS) met remotely by videoconference in strict accordance with social distancing measures. The CPS advises the CNES Board of Directors on matters relating to space science research and helps it to shape the science priorities of the agency’s programmes.

CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall began with a review of the main events since the last meeting of the CPS. Following the launch failure of Vega on flight VV17 and the subsequent loss of the Taranis satellite, a Task Force was immediately set up in coordination with the national scientific research centre CNRS and the French atomic energy and alternative energies commission CEA to start working on a Taranis 2 mission to match the science goals of the original mission. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich, the reference satellite altimetry mission of the European Copernicus programme, was launched successfully to continue the legacy begun with the French-U.S. TOPEX/Poseidon mission in 1992. And the French government has drawn up a stimulus plan encompassing space to support research and innovation and preserve the critical skills and competitiveness of the sector, where CNES acts as operator on behalf of its three overseeing ministries (Economy & Finance, Higher Education, Research & Innovation, and Armed Forces).

Jean-Yves Le Gall also commented on the report of the High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES), which underlines CNES’s unique position in Europe as a programmatic agency and technical field centre, as well as the quality of its industrial and academic partnerships, both in France and abroad. The report points to numerous indicators confirming the good governance of French space research in terms of funding for research actions, publications and postgraduate training. It also emphasizes the key role of the CPS and its CERES and TOSCA committees behind the sector’s excellent results.

Lastly, CNES’s President paid tribute to the two laureates of the CNES Astrophysics & Space Sciences Prize awarded by the French Academy of Sciences, Philippe Lognonné, a professor at the University of Paris and geophysicist at the IPGP Earth sciences institute, and Sylvestre Maurice, an astronomer at the Midi-Pyrenees Observatory and planetologist at the IRAP astrophysics and planetology research institute, for their remarkable work enabling instruments such as ChemCam and SEIS to be operated on the surface of Mars through CNES/NASA collaborations flying the nation’s colours on the world planetology stage.

The CPS was then given a detailed progress report on CNES’s scientific programmes in the fields of universe and Earth sciences, a presentation of the Balloons programme and a status check on actions arising out of the 2019 Science Survey Seminar.

Pascale Bresson     Press Officer     Tel: +33 (0)1 44 76 75 39
Raphaël Sart    Press Officer    Tel: +33 (0)1 44 76 74 51