August 20, 2018

French and European space science honoured - Jean-Loup Puget, Chair of CNES’s Science Programmes Committee, receives 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize in Vienna

Monday 20 August, at the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Vienna, Robert Kennicutt, editor of the Astrophysical Journal, presented the 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize to Jean-Loup Puget and Nazzareno Mandolesi, Principal Investigators for the Planck high-frequency (HFI) and low-frequency (LFI) instruments, and to the Planck science team, in the presence of Patricia Gruber and the IAU President and Secretary General, and Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES and Chair of the European Space Agency (ESA) Council.

Jean-Loup Puget led development of the HFI instrument on ESA’s Planck mission and subsequent exploitation of its data through a broad international collaboration and with funding from CNES. The Planck space observatory developed by ESA with significant involvement of NASA was selected in 1996 as the third medium-sized mission (M3) of ESA’s Horizon 2000 scientific research programme. CNES’s involvement in this effort was twofold, through its contribution to ESA’s mandatory science programme and to the development of the HFI instrument, led by French science teams, and its data processing centre. From 2009 to 2013, Planck surveyed the skies to probe the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the relic radiation dating to just 380,000 years after the Big Bang, yielding key new insights into the birth of the Universe and the formation of large structures, notably the mechanisms that led to the appearance of galaxies.

Jean-Loup Puget from the IAS space astrophysics institute (CNRS) at Paris-Sud University and the physics department of the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) is a member of the French science academy since 2002, Emeritus director of research at the French scientific research centre CNRS and Chair of CNES’s Science Programmes Committee (CPS). He was the laureate of the Jean Ricard Prize in 1989 and received the COSPAR Space Science Award in 2014. He also recently received the Shaw Prize in Astronomy 2018.

After the prizegiving ceremony, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “As President of CNES and Chair of ESA Council, I am proud and honoured to be here for this award of the 2018 Gruber Cosmology Prize to the teams from ESA’s Planck mission and in particular to my friend Jean-Loup Puget, who I have known for many years and is the chair of CNES’s Science Programmes Committee. This distinction is a great reward for the work he has accomplished throughout his career bearing the standard for our space science programme. It also comes at a time when we are eagerly awaiting the results from a range of space science missions like Hayabusa 2-MASCOT at asteroid Ryugu, InSight-SEIS on Mars, BepiColombo to probe Mercury and Parker Solar Probe to survey the Sun. This award of the Gruber Cosmology Prize to Jean-Loup Puget and the Planck team confirms once again the outstanding record of success achieved by our national science community.”

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