Tuesday 9 March, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall held a videoconference meeting with Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), for a status check of the bilateral space cooperation between the two agencies, which encompasses Earth observation, universe sciences and space exploration.
Environmental and climate science are key fields of investigation underpinning France and China’s space relationship, of which CFOSat is the first flagship programme. After the successful completion on 2 March of the first operational review of this major mission to observe ocean surface winds and waves, orbited in October 2018, Jean-Yves Le Gall hailed its operational prowess. Its excellent data are freely available to the world’s scientists since February last year. To extend their ambitious collaboration in Earth observation, CNES and CNSA agreed to pursue their discussions on outlining a future joint mission dedicated to the water cycle. CNES’s President also lauded CNSA’s strong commitment to the Space Climate Observatory (SCO), welcoming the large number of projects that China has submitted for accreditation and recalling the SCO’s goal of presenting its international governance charter at the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November.
In the field of space science, Jean-Yves Le Gall called on all stakeholders to pull together on the development of the flagship SVOM gamma- and X-ray space observatory now planned for launch in June 2022 and to overcome the difficulties engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In space exploration, CNES’s President expressed satisfaction with the progress in developing the French DORN instrument designed to study the transport of volatiles through the lunar regolith and in the lunar exosphere, with assembly now completed and the first tests successfully performed on the structural and mechanical model of the instrument built by the IRAP astrophysics and planetology research institute. Other potential areas for cooperation in relation to the Moon and Mars were also discussed during today’s meeting.
In conclusion, Jean-Yves Le Gall and Zhang Kejian reaffirmed their commitment to sustaining and strengthening the fine momentum of France-China space cooperation, despite the challenging context.