Tuesday 15 October, Hélène Conway-Mouret, Vice-President of the French Senate, and CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall, opened an exhibition of 80 exceptional photographs on the railings of the Jardin du Luxembourg gardens, presented as the commemorations marking the 50th anniversary of man’s first steps on the Moon come to a close.
“A Journey through the Universe” takes visitors to the gardens on a tour of past, present and future space exploration programmes, from the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Rosetta-Philae’s encounter with comet Chury to the Curiosity rover that has now been exploring the surface of Mars for over seven years. As well as highlighting the technological feats, this exhibition seeks to gain a human perspective of the adventure, spanning the Earth to meet the research scientists and engineers working in laboratories and clean rooms, and at the Guiana Space Centre, where such missions are lofted into the cosmos.
While humans have been exploring space for more than 60 years, they have only actually set foot on two places: the International Space Station in Earth orbit and the surface of the Moon. Beyond, it has been left to robotic explorers to send back pictures from unknown worlds. We can wager that by the middle of this century, a picture of a human standing on Mars will be added to the collection.
These impressive images show scenes that are a blaze of colours and textures, and others that depict desolate landscapes, all of them thought-provoking and tapping into our collective imagination. But we must not lose sight of the fact that they are above all a source of science data on the nature of our universe, yielding vital clues about the formation and chemical composition of stars, and the history of planets. In this sense, they are as precious as the cosmic dust, moonrocks and samples returned from asteroids by probes and astronauts.
Exhibition partners: Ciel & Espace and Michel Lafon
‘Journey through the Universe’
21 September 2019 to 19 January 2020
Railings of the Jardin du Luxembourg
Rue de Médicis – 75006 Paris
Entry free, open to the public 24/7 – night lighting