The Comet Interceptor space mission has been approved by the European Space Agency (ESA) to be the next mission to explore the solar system. Developed in collaboration with the Japanese space agency (JAXA), several national space agencies and research centres in Europe, including CNES and CNRS, Comet Interceptor will be the first space mission to visit a comet from the farthest reaches of the Solar System, or even outside the Solar System. A unique feature of this space mission will be that it will stand by the Solar System before merging with the comet. Such a comet will only be discovered in a few years' time and potentially after Comet Interceptor leaves Earth. In Nice, the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur is playing a major role in this mission.
In its visit to Psyche, NASA hopes to glimpse the center of the Earth. NASA’s mission to the solar system's largest metallic asteroid promises to show us the iron-nickel core of a dead planet. New research, however, hints that this asteroid is much more. The article was written by Megan I. Gannon for the journal Popular Science. Guy Libourel, professor at the Université Côte d'Azur, and Mark Wieczorek, senior scientist CNRS, lagrange laboratory (CNRS-UCA-OCA) have contributed to this research.
An international team of researchers including astrophysicists from the Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg, the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur and the Observatoire de Paris discovered the remnants of a star cluster whose stars share a uniquely low fraction of elements heavier than Hydrogen and Helium. As successive generations of stars enrich with heavy elements the interstellar gas from which future stars are born, this cluster must have been formed from very early generations of stars and provides a remarkable relic from a time when the very first stellar structures were assembling. It was not known that star clusters with such pristine stars existed — some theories even hypothesized they could not form at all, others that they would have all vanished by now — which makes this a key discovery for our understanding of how stars form in the early Universe.
The UniversCity telescope, whose construction is being finalized at Plateau de Calern, was used to obtain scientific data on occultations for the first time on July 10, 2021, by a remote observer. Both observations (the first one in the early hours of that day, the second on the following night), turned out to be positive thus producing useful measurements. They concerned the asteroids (2207) Antenor and (884) Priamus, trojans of Jupiter and selected targets of the Lucky Star project (https://lesia.obspm.fr/lucky-star/index.php).
The moons of planets that have no parent star can possess an atmosphere and retain liquid water. Astrophysicists from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, University of Concepción in Chile, Lagrange Laboratory, and University of Tokyo have calculated that such systems could harbor sufficient water to make life possible – and sustain it.
Lagrange laboratory is recruiting an engineer in Software engineering.
Lagrange laboratory is recruiting an engineer in Instrumental development.
The 2021 Olivier Chesneau Prize has been awarded to Mathias Novak for his doctoral work entitled : «The 2017 conjunction of Beta Pictoris b: the Life and Death of PicSat, followed by a VLTI/GRAVITY observation of the re-emergence » that was successfully defended in 2019 at the Observatoire de Paris.
Undismayed by the loss of the PicSat satellite which was the centerpiece of his planned doctoral work, two years into the works, Mathias was able to switch gears, while keeping his objective. He started to work on the then newly commissioned GRAVITY instrument at the focus of ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer. Taking advantage of his practical experience with the problem of injection of light into single-mode fibers, acquired while working on PicSat, he was able in a very short time, to make technical contributions that led to improving the astrometric capability of GRAVITY. Building up from there, he joined the exoplanet program of GRAVITY, where his data processing skills contributed to the first GRAVITY observation of the exoplanet HR 8799e. He was eventually able to close the circle of his doctoral work by finally observing Beta Pictoris: he produced the first very high quality spectrum of Beta Pictoris b, and ultimately, led the first direct detection of Beta Pictoris c, a planet that had only been indirectly detected by radial velocity. Overall, this work has had a major technical and scientific impact in both the interferometry and the exoplanet communities.
These impressive achievements, owed to a deep understanding of technical issues and their consequences on astrophysical measurements, combined with resilience of face of adversity, are the hallmark of the spirit of the Olivier Chesneau Prize, which this year's board of judges is absolutely delighted to award to Dr. Mathias Novak.
Illustration : Vue d'artiste Beta Pictoris B - © ESO L. Calçada/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org)
Apophis, an Earth-crossing asteroid, fascinates both scientists and public since it regularly encounters the Earth. It has passed at 16.8 millions km in March 2021, and in April 2029 it will come as close as 31000 km to the Earth surface (12 times closer than Moon). Its trajectory is thus under close surveillance since its discovery in 2004.
Two astronomy networks are coming together to form Europe’s largest ground-based astronomy collaborative network: the ORP. The ORP will provide scientists with access to a wide range of instruments, promote training for young astronomers, and open the way to new discoveries. The CNRS will be responsible for coordinating the ORP, which is supported by €15 million of funding from the H2020 programme.