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NASA, France to Collaborate on Planetary Science and Space Exploration

NASA and the Astrophysics and Planetology Research Institute (IRAP), located in Toulouse, France, have signed an Affiliate Member statement with NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), which supports lunar and planetary science research to advance human exploration of the solar system through scientific discovery. With the establishment of a NASA SSERVI French team, the planetary science community in France can now participate in SSERVI programs on a no-exchange-of-funds basis.

“France’s impressive proposal to SSERVI offers scientific and technological expertise in the study of the Moon and Mercury, Vesta and Ceres asteroids in the Dawn mission, and comets like Churuymov-Gerasimenko (67P) of the ongoing Rosetta mission,” said Dr. Yvonne Pendleton, director of SSERVI. “We are eager to see what scientific discoveries result from this partnership.”

Dr. Patrick Pinet, who submitted the proposal, is a senior scientist at the French National Research Center (CNRS) and deputy-director of the IRAP laboratory. Belonging to the Midi-Pyrénées Observatory, the laboratory benefits from the support of the CNRS’ National Institute for Study of the Universe, the Paul Sabatier Toulouse III University, and the French Space Agency. “The lab works closely with the European Space Agency, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Indian Space Research Organization, and now SSERVI. This is a special moment for France,” said Pinet.

“Our French partners have put together a compelling proposal that outlines multiple topics for potential collaborative research. This partnership will be important to NASA and its international partners who are successfully conducting the ambitious activities of exploring the solar system with robots and humans,” said Greg Schmidt, deputy director of SSERVI, who directs international partnerships.

SSERVI, a virtual institute of domestic and international partnerships, enables cross-team and interdisciplinary research to push the boundaries of science and exploration. Located at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, SSERVI is funded jointly by the agency’s Science Mission and Human Exploration and Operations Mission directorates at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

For more information about SSERVI and select member teams, visit:


Kimberly Williams
Ames Research Center