September 15, 2017

CNES’s Science Programmes Committee meets

CNES’s Science Programmes Committee (CPS) convened at the agency’s Head Office in Paris on Thursday 14 September. The CPS advises the CNES Board of Directors on matters relating to space science research and helps it to shape the agency’s science priorities.

Kicking off the meeting, CNES Associate Director General Lionel Suchet reviewed the highlights of recent months, notably Thomas Pesquet’s return to Earth on 2 June, streamed live from the agency’s Head Office in the presence of President Emmanuel Macon, after his fantastic Proxima mission on the International Space Station. He also underlined the huge success of the 52nd Paris International Air Show at Le Bourget, from 19-25 June, where President Macron was shown what CNES is doing in the fields of innovation, climate science and space exploration in the agency’s futuristic Pavilion, which attracted some 17,000 visitors, as well as the launch atop a Vega vehicle from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG) on 2 August of the French-Israeli VENμS vegetation-monitoring mission, which has already started sending back high-quality imagery.

The meeting also reviewed progress on NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, with the delivery of the flight model of the SEIS seismometer for integration on the rover, as well as the CFOSat oceanography mission with the delivery to the agency’s Chinese partner of the SWIM instrument (Surface Waves Investigation and Monitoring). France and the United States’ continuing successful space cooperation was marked by a number of commemorations, like the 25 years of altimetry celebrations in the U.S. and in Toulouse with NASA and JPL, and the 100th anniversary of NASA’s Langley Research Center. The two nations are firmly committed to pursuing their partnership in the domains of oceanography, hydrology and climate science.

Other items on the CPS meeting’s agenda included Earth observation and climate change, which has been in the news with the recent events in Texas and the West Indies. The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was activated on several occasions to aid relief efforts. The meeting also mentioned the World Climate Summit that France is organizing on 12 December to review progress on implementing the terms of the Paris Agreement. Lastly, the meeting mentioned the ‘Grand Finale’ of the Cassini mission set for 15 September. A joint endeavour of Europe and the United States, the Cassini-Huygens mission has enabled scientists to study Saturn, its rings and moons for the last 13 years. The landing of the European Huygens probe on the surface of Titan in January 2005 is a feat only surpassed since by Philae’s landing on the nucleus of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014.

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