Jean-Yves Le Gall began by emphasizing this year’s packed science programme, notably the launch last May of the InSight mission carrying the French SEIS seismometer set to land on Mars on 26 November to ‘take the pulse’ of the red planet. He also mentioned the launch on 12 August of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission in which France is closely involved, supplying instruments designed to unlock the secrets of the temperature of the Sun’s corona. And on 3 October, the MASCOT rover will be landing on asteroid Ryugu with the French MicrOmega instrument that will be analysing its surface composition to yield new data eagerly awaited by the scientific community. CNES’s President also recalled the upcoming launch of the BepiColombo mission scheduled for 19 October from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG). This mission’s two modules will be surveying the surface of Mercury and its magnetic field and magnetosphere, thanks to the efforts of French research laboratories that are contributing six of their 16 instruments.
Jean-Yves Le Gall underlined the advances CNES is making in tackling climate change, with the Space Climate Observatory (SCO) unveiled at the Toulouse Space Show in June in the presence of Frédérique Vidal, the Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation. The SCO is set to pool satellite data on a range of climate variables and thus inform decisions underpinning climate actions. CNES’s President then hailed the successful launch of the European Aeolus satellite, the first ever with the capability to measure winds using lidar technology and to model dynamic 3D maps of surface winds around the globe. He also mentioned the launch on 29 October of the French-Chinese CFOSat satellite that is set to improve forecasting of sea state and gain new insights into how the oceans and atmosphere interact.
Jean-Yves Le Gall concluded by officially announcing that CNES’s next Space Science Survey Seminar will be held in October 2019 in Le Havre. This event will mark a major milestone and an opportunity to bring together the scientific community to chart the way ahead for French space science.