“Typically, it could be used for a mission for Mars. Today astronauts are in lower Earth orbit at 350km of altitude, so we don’t have so much radiation. Radiation starts at what is called the Van Allen belt, which is at 15,000 km of altitude.
“So when you go to the Moon you have to cross this belt and it is dangerous. But if you go to Mars of course, with a trip duration of six months, you will have a lot of radiation and this is why we need to understand what will happen.”
As well as the deal with ANSTO, Mr Le Gall has signed agreements with the Australian National University on space co-operation, including innovation, communications and space law, and with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
The agreement with CSIRO will see Australia join the Space Climate Observatory, a federation of the world’s space agencies to research global warming. Australia will help spearhead efforts in the Pacific.
Mr Le Gall said of the 50 essential climate variables being monitored, 26 were tracked from space.
New era between nations
The agreements build on the partnership CNES signed with the University of NSW, Canberra, two years ago on planning space missions. Part of that work includes the development of small satellites, miniaturising technology to bring down the cost of sending a payload into space. Mr Le Gall said such technology would open space to a wider range of countries.
With Australia and France already collaborating on the design and build of the next generation submarines, Mr Le Gall said co-operation on space was also propelling the relationship between the two countries into a new era.
France’s space agency is the third oldest in the world and had a lot to offer the newly created Australian Space Agency, Mr Le Gall said.
“There is already a space industry [in Australia] but it is basically an industry with a lot of equipment providers and I think now Australia should go one step beyond in developing the capability to be a prime [contractor] and manufacture satellites,” he said.
Mr Le Gall is visiting Australia as part of a 50-strong delegation of French officials and experts led by French Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Frederique Vidal.