Born 23 December 1937, Dourdan 91, France ;
Father of Ariane Bonnet-Dubost, born on 7 November 1988.
University degrees and professional activities:
Graduated from Paris University in Physics and Astronomy, I961;
Doctor in Physics in 1968 (A. Kastler, chairman, J.E. Blamont, J.C. Pecker, E. Schatzman , advisors);
Director of the Laboratoire de Physique Stellaire et Planétaire (Verrières-le Buisson) 1969-1983 ;
Director of the Science Programme of the European Space Agency from May 1983 until April 2001;
Professor of Faculty at Liège University in Belgium ;
Director of Research Emeritus at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique ;
Associate Director General for Science at the French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (Cnes) from January 2002 to January 2003.
Executive Director of the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern ( Switzerland ) since January 2003.
President of COSPAR since October 2002.
The early scientific work of RM. Bonnet was focused on Solar Physics. As early as 1963, he launched the first French space astronomy experiment on board the Veronique rocket, from Hammaguir in Sahara . He presented his thesis in 1968 on the imagery and spectroscopy of the Sun in the ultraviolet. He developed instruments himself that he placed on board both sounding rockets and balloons of the French space programme. His early work culminated in the building of the Transition Region Camera experiment in collaboration with the Lockheed Solar Physics group in Palo Alto, CA, which obtained the best-ever pictures of the Sun in the Lyman-alpha radiation.
He has been the founder and the Director of the Laboratoire de Physique Stellaire et Planétaire (LPSP) of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) from 1969 until 1983. At LPSP, together with his co-workers he developed several experiments which have been carried on board US (OSO-8) or French D2-A and D2-B artificial satellites. His laboratory was involved in the development of the infrared spectrometer on board the VEGA-1 and VEGA-2 soviet missions. He developed the telescope of the Halley Multicolour Camera (Principal Investigator: U. Keller from Max-Planck Institute in Lindau) on board the Giotto mission of ESA, which obtained the first image ever of the nucleus of a Comet in 1986.
Activities within the European Space Agency:
As the Director of the Science Programme of the European Space Agency, R.M. Bonnet, established as early as 1984 the first long term programme of ESA called "Horizon 2000" which incorporated a balanced blend of large, medium and small missions like Giotto, the pioneering mission to Halley's comet; Hipparcos, the first astrometry satellite; ISO, the Infrared Space Observatory; SOHO; Cluster; XMM-Newton, the largest ever built X-ray telescope; the Integral gamma ray mission; FIRST; Planck; Ulysses; the Huygens probe (on board NASA's Cassini mission) planned to land on Titan in 2005; Rosetta, Mars Express; Bep pi Colombo; LISA etc.
In his tenure at ESA he has directed the launch of a total of 17 artificial scientific satellites. In particular, he has initiated the development of the Huygens probe which was placed onboard the NASA Cassini Saturn Orbiter and has successfully landed on Titan on 14 January 2005. He has also developed the Mars Express mission which is successfully orbiting Mars since December 2003 and has obtained the best pictures of the surface of Mars in three dimensions. He was keen on developing small missions to test technologies in space called SMART missions (Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology equivalent to the technology missions of NASA. The first in that series, SMART-1 was launched on 27 September 2003 and is successfully orbiting the Moon, testing Solar Electric Propulsion and analyzing the surface of our natural satellite.
All these missions are second to none in the world. The success of Horizon 2000 can be measured through the increase of the ESA science budget of 5% per annum in absolute terms (above inflation) for 10 years. All information concerning the missions listed above can be found on the ESA web site: www.esa.int ..
At ESA, he was also entrusted the task of defining the European strategy for Earth Sciences and Observation, now called the "Living Planet" programme. This envelope programme was fully endorsed by the ESA ministers in 1999 in Brussels and is developing at full speed now.
Since May 2001, he is also an advisor to the Director General of the European Space Agency (ESA), on the programme of Planetary exploration called " Aurora " whose main aim is to prepare for the landing of a European on the surface of Mars in the course of the third decade of the century.
Activities at CNES
As Joint Director General for Science at CNES, one of his main tasks has been to define the prospective for future programmes at the horizon 2015-2020 and identify the means to match the scientific and technological challenges of the next 15 years, in areas such as Space sciences, Microgravity, Planetary exploration and propulsion including nuclear propulsion.
In November 2002, the French Minister of Research and the Minister of Defence, asked R. M. Bonnet to chair a Commission to reflect on the future of the French Space policy in view of the Europeanization of the space policies. The report was presented to the Ministers on January 15, 2003 and has led to a major reshuffling of the French Space Agency and has put the French space policy back on track.
In the spring of 2003, he was invited by the European Commission to coordinate the consultation of the science community in the formulation of the European Union/ESA Green Paper on Space.
In January 2005 he was called by the Galileo Joint Undertaking enterprise to serve as an observer in the evaluation committee in charge of selecting the Galileo concessionaires.
Since October 2003, he is member of the Board of trustees of the Association of Universities Incorporated (AUI) in Washington .
R.M. Bonnet is the author of more than 150 articles and scientific publications and books among which "Les Horizons Chimériques" (Dunod, 1992), and "International Cooperation in Space" together with V. Manno (Harvard University Press).
Awards and distinctions
Officier de la Légion d'Honneur
1968 Médaille de Bronze du CNRS,
1976 Médaille d'Argent du CNES,
1980 Prix Deslandres de l'Académie des Sciences,
1985 Médaille I. Gagarine de la Fédération de Cosmonautique d'URSS,
1985 Laurel Aviation Week and Space Technology,
1987 Emil Award, International Academy of Astronautique,
1987 Personnalité de l'Année" dans les Sciences en France,
1993 Médaille C. Tsiolkovsky de la Fédération de Cosmonautique of USSR,
1993 « Basic Scientist » of the l'Académie Internationale d'astronautique,
1993 Laurel Aviation Week and Space Technology,
1996 Grand Prix of Association Aéronautique et Astronautique de France,
1998 LaurelAviation Week and Space Technology,
2000 COSPAR Award,
2001 NASA Public Service Medal,
2001 Fellow of the European Geophysical Society,
2001 Prix Icare des Journalistes Scientifiques,
2001 Laureate Hall of Fame Award, Aviation Week and Space Technology,
2002 World Technology Award for Space.
2003 Laurel for Team Achievement of the International Academy of Astronautics ( SOHO Team
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,
The Academia Europaea,
The Académie Nationale de l'Air et de l'Espace
The International Astronomical Union ,
The European Physical Society,
The International Academy of Astronautics,
The Royal Astronomical Society,
The Royal Society of Sciences of Liege ,
The European Academy of Sciences Arts and Humanities.
Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of London ( Imperial College ),
Professor of Faculty at the University of Liege ( Belgium ).