CNES and NASA Sign Statement on Mars and Oceanography

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On Monday, June 19 at the 52nd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, the President of CNES, Jean-Yves Le Gall, and NASA’s Acting Administrator, Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., gave new momentum to their cooperation by signing a joint statement. At their meeting, the two agency heads discussed Mars exploration and oceanography, two domains where CNES has key expertise.

France and the United States have built a longstanding partnership in space, combining their talents over the years to advance science programmes and launch exploration missions whose results have had direct impacts on the development and progress of our society. The joint statement signed by Jean-Yves Le Gall and Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. at their meeting on June 19 consolidates this shared commitment to keep moving forward together in space.

In the field of Mars exploration, CNES is working alongside NASA on the InSight mission for which France is supplying the SEIS seismometer (Seismic Experiment for Interior Structures) that will measure tectonic activity on Mars to help probe its interior structure. Jean-Yves Le Gall informed Robert Lightfoot that SEIS will be delivered this summer, in readiness for mission launch in 2018. He also indicated that the SuperCam instrument for the Mars 2020 rover mission will be delivered to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the autumn of 2018 for integration with the rover. The two agency heads were able to admire the full-scale mock-up of the rover on view in CNES’s pavilion at the Paris Air Show.

They also discussed the progress of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission scheduled for launch in 2021. The radiofrequency unit (RFU) of the wide-swath radar interferometer has been delivered as planned to JPL. The SWOT mission scientists now will be getting together at the end of this month in Toulouse to plan science activities.

Lastly, Jean-Yves Le Gall indicated that the DECLIC physics mini-laboratory, a joint CNES-NASA effort, is continuing to operate aboard the International Space Station (ISS) after its launch last October.