Since 2011, every third Tuesday of the month, CNES and the Bar des Sciences association have been organizing Tuesday space talks open to all from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Café du Pont Neuf in Paris. Entry is free.
Talks focus on a space theme, with a journalist moderating the evening’s speakers and questions from the audience. A pianist also provides musical interludes. You get to talk with experts from CNES and other scientific bodies and institutions on topics as varied as Mars exploration, science-fiction films or the future Ariane 6 launcher.
Upcoming space talks
Europe’s Rosetta orbiter arrived in the vicinity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the summer of 2014. A few months later, the tiny Philae lander accomplished an acrobatic touchdown on the comet’s surface, where it conducted science operations for 3 days until its battery ran out. The orbiter has since made a wealth of discoveries about the comet’s structure and processes. At the end of September, the orbiter itself will crash into the comet after a controlled descent for a fitting finale to the mission. During the descent it will enable analyses and observations close to the nucleus to add to the rich harvest of data already obtained. Mission teams will take advantage of the close flyby phases to find Philae and thus better understand why re-establishing contact with it early in the summer of 2015 proved so problematic.
Speakers: Francis Rocard, CNES; Sylvain Lodiot, ESA.
15 November 2016 - NewSpace brings a wind of change
Space has seen seismic shifts in recent years as private entrepreneurs, often young billionaires from the Internet sphere, have invested in space with the goal of bringing it to a wider public. Elon Musk wants to take us to Mars, while Jeff Bezos wants to take us into Earth orbit. At the same time, advances in technology and digital disruptions are encouraging new players to launch constellations of microsatellites and nanosatellites to observe planet Earth. This movement seeking to foster a private space sector has been dubbed NewSpace.
CNES’s Gilles Ragain and Michel Faup will be sharing their insights into this game-changing shift and showing us how, aside from space advocates, the U.S. government is playing a driving role and China is also setting out its stall. NewSpace is a mixture of geopolitics, dreams and innovation that is transforming the sector, with the promise of exciting times ahead.
13 December 2016 - Star Wars: where myth meets reality
The Star Wars film saga has been hugely successful. While it features futuristic technologies obviously way ahead of our own, some scenes nevertheless seem familiar. Just where is the line between science and fiction, dream and reality? In this space talk, we propose to use physics to delve deeper into certain scenes from the films. For example, what might be the exact nature of the Force used by the Jedi warriors? How could we build a lightsaber? What kind of propulsion do interstellar spacecraft use? And where is the planet Tatooine? The aim here, of course, is not to destroy the stuff of dreams inherent in any work of fiction, but rather to look at physics in a fun way through a new lens. In the process, the spectator starts thinking much like an astrophysicist, who only has the starlight sensed by instruments to go on in attempting to pierce the secrets of the Universe. By the end of this investigation, your world view will be transformed. May the Force be with you!
Two scientists and science-fiction aficionados—Elisa Cliquet, an engineer at CNES’s Launch Vehicles Directorate, and Roland Lehoucq, an astrophysicist at CEA, the French atomic energy and alternative energies commission—will be on hand to answer the audience’s questions.
Speakers: Elisa Cliquet, CNES; Roland Lehoucq, CEA.
17 January 2017 - Subjecting the human body to space
At the end of 2016, ESA’s French astronaut Thomas Pesquet departed for a six-month sojourn on the International Space Station. Meanwhile, the world’s top space agencies are looking further ahead to crewed missions to the Moon and Mars. And closer to home, parabolic flights are on offer for scientists, training astronauts and even the public.
What physiological effects does microgravity have on the human body? Are osteoporosis, muscle wasting, cardiac and balance disorders reversible?
Three speakers—one a doctor and another a fellow astronaut of Thomas Pesquet—will explain the constraints and current solutions devised to counter them, and answer questions from the audience.
Speakers: François Spiero, CNES; Jean-François Clervoy, astronaut; and Franck Lehot, Novespace.
The international Cospas-Sarsat programme supplies fast, precise and reliable data to help search-and-research (SAR) teams locate and respond to distress callers. Since its inception, Cospas-Sarsat has helped to save some 40,000 lives on 11,000 SAR operations. It is also used on search operations and investigations after aircraft accidents, both on land and at sea. Today, an estimated 1,600 000 distress beacons are being used around the globe.
How does Cospas-Sarsat work? What satellite coverage does it offer? What kind of technological advances have been made on distress beacons? What are the most compelling life-saving stories on land, at sea and in the air? The two speakers will answer all of these questions and more.
Speakers: Bruno Chazal, CNES; Philippe Plantin de Hugues, BEA.
To the ancients, the broad white band across the night sky was made up of countless droplets of milk from the infant Hercules suckling the breasts of the goddess Juno. It wasn’t until 1610 that Galileo discovered with his telescope that the Milky Way was in fact a multitude of stars that our eyes are unable to tell apart. But the GAIA satellite is doing just that. Indeed, its goal is to observe more than a billion stars in our galaxy to calculate their positions and distances. It is thus compiling a 3D map of the Milky Way and its majestic rotation, like taking a photo from outside the galaxy looking in. Two years into the mission, this talk will look at GAIA’s first results.
Speakers: Olivier La Marle, CNES; François Mignard, CNRS/Côte d’Azur Observatory.
The COP21 in Paris at the end of 2015 highlighted the urgency of curbing CO2 emissions. The latest report from the IPCC* reaffirms the central role this greenhouse gas is playing in climate change, and atmospheric levels of CO2 have been rising continually since the start of the 20th century. While vegetation and the oceans draw down on average half of the CO2 we are generating, we don’t know how long they can go on doing this in the decades ahead. Deforestation and forest management are also key elements in controlling the carbon cycle in plants and soils.
Just how much CO2 can the oceans absorb? How will boreal and equatorial forests and temperate regions respond to rising temperatures and increasingly frequent extreme climate events like droughts and floods? How can we observe such changes spatially and temporally? What can we learn from ground networks? How can satellite data help to solve the puzzle? And what technologies are currently being used and envisioned for the future?
* International Panel on Climate Change
Speakers: Carole Deniel, CNES; Philippe Ciais, CEA.
Could life have existed on Mars? Two missions launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2016 and 2020 are going to attempt to find out.
ExoMars 2016 inserted the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) satellite into Martian orbit to study the planet’s atmosphere and evolution, and to serve as a telecommunications relay to Earth for future missions operating on its surface. The satellite was also carrying a lander demonstrator called Schiaparelli.
ExoMars 2020 will land a Russian platform and a European rover on Mars. The platform’s Russian and European instruments will measure the surrounding environment for one Martian year (687 Earth days). The rover will be equipped with a drill and caching system to analyse and identify any carbon and other molecules that could point to the emergence of lifeforms in Mars’ ancient past.
CNES and French research laboratories are in charge of several of the mission’s instruments. CNES was also involved in analysing atmospheric re-entry parameters for the Schiaparelli lander.
Speakers: Michel Viso, CNES; François Forget, CNRS/LMD; Valérie Ciarletti, LATMOS.
20 June 2017 - Keeping track of wildlife
The ability of space systems to gauge the impacts of global warming is now clearly identified. Indeed, tracking wildlife migration paths and populations in extreme environments is only possible from space. The Argos satellite-based system has been delivering data to the international scientific community since the 1980s and is today being used to track more than 8,000 animals. Scientists are thus learning more about how bears, leatherback turtles, elephant seals, penguins and all sorts of birds live and where they go. Such wildlife also serve as valuable bio-indicators, as changes in their habitat are informing us about climate change.
Argos transmitter technologies are also continually evolving. With the latest advances in miniaturization, the smallest solar Argos transmitter will soon be lighter than a one euro-cent coin, at just 2.3 grams.
Speakers: Eric Luvisutto, CNES; Yann Bernard, CLS.
How to get there and how it works
Tuesday space talks from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. - Upstairs at the Café du Pont Neuf, 14 Quai du Louvre, 75001 Paris (metro/RER Châtelet-Les Halles and metro 7 Pont-Neuf).
If you feel like a drink while slaking your thirst for knowledge:
€6* for first drink if coffee, tea, soft drink, 25 cl glass of beer or glass of wine
€10* for first drink if whisky, gin, port or similar, or 50 cl glass of beer
* Surcharge on first drink if ordered with a meal.