Thursday 25 February, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), held a videoconference meeting to review their bilateral space cooperation. The two heads of agency discussed the COVID-19 health situation and key milestones ahead this year. They also reviewed the status of main projects underway, among them the Callisto reusable launcher demonstrator to be launched from the Guiana Space Centre and MMX (Martian Moons Exploration), the Japanese sample return mission to Phobos, one of Mars’ two moons, for which CNES is supplying a spectrometer, expertise in spaceflight dynamics and a rover built in partnership with the German space agency DLR.
Jean-Yves Le Gall congratulated JAXA for the historic feat accomplished by its Hayabusa2 mission in bringing back to Earth on 6 December 2020 5.4 grams of samples from asteroid Ryugu, where the French-German MASCOT lander also set down in October 2019 to conduct in-situ analyses. He looked forward eagerly to the first results from analysis of samples to which the French team at the IAS space astrophysics institute is contributing through the MicrOmega instrument delivered to JAXA last July.
In the field of Earth observation, Jean-Yves Le Gall emphasized the importance of working together to curb greenhouse gases, a key contribution of CNES and JAXA to the Paris Agreement. This contribution was formally enshrined at the One Planet Summit in 2017 with the signature of an agreement on cross-validation of data from greenhouse gas monitoring missions operated by each agency. The two agency heads also hailed the participation of the Japanese GOSAT-1 and GOSAT-2 satellites in the 2019 and 2020 MAGIC campaigns (Monitoring Atmospheric composition and Greenhouse gases through multi-Instrument Campaigns) and discussed prospects for stepping up current collaborations.
Lastly, the two agency heads lauded the excellent spirit of cooperation that augurs well for forthcoming projects and milestones, beginning with the third France-Japan space dialogue scheduled to be held shortly in France.