Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall was in Israel on 28 January 2020 to speak at the 15th Ilan Ramon International Conference, focused this year on the theme of the next decade in space. On this occasion, he met Avi Blasberger, Director General of the Israel Space Agency (ISA), to discuss space cooperation between France and Israel. The two nations are working together in a number of areas, notably on the VENµS (Vegetation and Environment monitoring on a New Microsatellite) and C3IEL (Cluster for Cloud Evolution, ClImatE and Lightning) missions.
The VENµS mission is dedicated to closely monitoring Earth’s vegetation. Every two days, the microsatellite acquires images of more than 100 sites around the globe, covering forests, crops and protected natural areas. No other space-based sensor currently in orbit combines such revisit frequency and spatial resolution to track vegetation. The mission’s operational phase is proceeding to plan. Users at the session dedicated to VENµS at the latest COSPAR symposium from 4–8 November 2019 expressed great satisfaction with the data from the satellite. At the start of this year, CNES and ISA approved a baseline scenario to extend the mission. The science mission begun on 1 March 2018 and originally scheduled to end on 31 August 2020 could thus be extended to 31 October 2020. It would be followed, as initially planned, by a technology mission that will consist in lowering the microsatellite’s orbit to 410 kilometres from where it will conduct daily revisits for a limited period of three months. This technology mission would be followed by two further extensions to raise the satellite’s
After speaking at the conference, Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “France and Israel have a long and prolific history of cooperation in space. The success of the VENµS mission soon led us to study the concept for a new mission, called C3IEL, which will further improve our ability to observe our home planet. VENµS and C3IEL are both fundamental to climate change research, which forms the central thread of our joint efforts.”