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 Inauguration of a Joint Laboratory between LAM and Thales Group

Publication date : 13 July 2017

Marseille, July 13, 2017
Longstanding partners on numerous instrumental projects for space astronomy, the Astrophysics Laboratory of Marseille - LAM, a joint research unit of CNRS and Aix-Marseille University - , and the Thales group, through its entities Thales-Alenia-Space, Thales-SESO and Thales-Optronics, have chosen to further strengthen their collaboration by setting up a "Joint Laboratory" dedicated to the development of Optical System and Spaceborne Instrumentation. This important initiative is in line with the preparation of future space missions for the Sciences of the Universe or Earth Observation and their instrumentation. This joint laboratory was inaugurated today at the LAM Château-Gombert site in Marseille.



The LAM teams and those of the Thales group have collaborated for many years in the framework of programs of the national or international space agencies (eg: the CoRoT satellite of the French space agency CNES, the Rosetta mission of the European Space Agency ESA ...). They also work very closely on activities for technological development in optics and instrumentation (optical manufacturing, space active optics techniques, spectrometry systems based on micro-components, etc.).

These collaborations, supported by the co-financing of numerous doctoral scholarships and the setting up of collaborative research projects, were particularly successful, resulting in the filing of numerous patents and licenses in joint ownership between the laboratory and the entities of the group Thales.

The aim of this joint laboratory "Systèmes Optiques & Instrumentation Embarquée (SOIE)" is to amplify these synergies between public research in astrophysical instrumentation and industrial applications in similar or related fields: Science of the Universe, Earth observation / Planetology, Space Surveillance, Defense and Security, etc. for which the development of innovative optical solutions is essential.

Today, it is a matter of bringing together the competences of the LAM and the Thales group around a joint technological development roadmap, defining a strategy and program of research and innovation structured over several years and re-evaluated annually depending on the evolution of the projects.

With a research team of some thirty people (researchers, doctoral students, post-doctoral fellows) entirely dedicated to innovative optical instrumentation for astrophysics, and a set of technological equipment and platforms at the European level, the LAM has an original and unique positioning within the national academic landscape which makes it an ideal partner for a group like Thales, both on the developments of innovative optical components and systems and for their validation in the space environment.

The research topics included in the roadmap of the joint laboratory address the themes of : design / manufacture of mirrors and optical components - Optical metrology - Active optics - Optical instrumentation based on MOEMS * or freeforms optics - Design of focal planes - Detectors and fast cameras - Assembly, Integration and Testing in space environment.

Thanks to this joint laboratory three PhD thesis, financed or co-financed by the Thales group, are already in the process of being launched for the 2017-2018 school year. They include the manufacture of large lightweight mirrors for future space missions, the use of micro-optical components (MOEMS) in spectrographs for imagery of the Earth or planets, or the compactification of large field imaging systems at high spatial resolution. Several other collaborative research programs are also under preparation.

Young researchers and doctoral students involved in these programs will clearly benefit from the rapprochement between academic and industrial teams, particularly in terms of working methods including project management and quality aspects. This opening to the industrial world during the doctorate will obviously be a valuable asset when looking for a job with their diploma in hand.

The setting up of this joint laboratory will allow the pooling of resources and skills, with a strong integration of academic and industrial cultures around a common objective, an adjustable work program adapted at regular intervals, all in a stable contractual framework with a predefined sharing of intellectual property and provisions to optimize and accelerate economic valorization and technology transfer.
It is fully in line with the development policy of the PACA region, notably by supporting the OPTITEC Competitiveness Cluster in Photonics and Imaging, and identifying photonics as a key cross-cutting technology within the framework of the Regional Innovation Strategy.

* Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems

LAM/Thales Joint Laboratory contacts:
Director : Marc Ferrari, +33 (0) 495 044 191 ; marc.ferrari@lam.fr
Deputy Director : Hervé Bénard, +33 (0) 492 923 445 ; herve.benard@thalesaleniaspace.com

Press contacts :
CNRS Provence and Corsica : Karine Baligand, +33 (0) 682 994 125 ; karine.baligand@dr12.cnrs.fr
Aix-Marseille University : Delphine Bucquet, +33 (0) 612 746 232 ; delphine.bucquet@univ-amu.fr
Thales Alenia Space : Sandrine Bielecki, +33 (0) 492 927 094 ; sandrine.bielecki@thalesaleniaspace.com
Thales Alenia Space : Chrystelle Dugimont, +33 (0) 492 927 406 ; chrystelle.dugimont@thalesaleniaspace.com


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