CERN and ESA sign cooperation agreement

At a ceremony today at Geneva airport, CERN and ESA signed a framework agreement for future cooperation on research and technology in areas of mutual interest. Future areas may include the development and characterization of innovative materials for applications in extreme conditions and for cutting-edge scientific performances, the development of new micro-technologies to be applied in miniaturized distributed sensor systems and the development and testing of high-performance detectors for high-energy physics experiments and space payloads. 

“CERN and ESA have common roots and share a long history of pioneering research work in their respective fields,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “This new cooperation agreement will foster synergies between the expertise, know-how and facilities available in the two Organizations.”

This year is CERN’s 60th anniversary and ESA’s 50th, making the signature an opportunity to celebrate the memory of a scientist who was a founding father of both organizations: the Italian, Edoardo Amaldi (1908 –1989). 

Amaldi had an unshakeable belief in the open nature of science and the need for international cooperation. After participating in the creation of CERN during the 1950s, he became Secretary General of the provisional organization. Then, in 1958 when CERN was firmly established, he joined forces with French physicist Pierre Auger to urge European governments to set up a European organisation for space research, based on the CERN model. Their vision led to the founding of the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO), which later became ESA. 

During the ceremony, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain presented Heuer with copies of letters by Amaldi in which he lays out his concern for peace, and the role science should play in fostering it. These letters were flown aboard ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle 3 – a spacecraft named in Amaldi’s honour.  The ceremony took place in the presence of members of Amaldi’s family, along with Research Ministers and State Secretaries from Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland. 

“ESA and CERN are the daughters of visionaries like Amaldi,” said Dordain, “testimony that, when we share the same challenging objectives and join forces, Europe is at the leading edge of progress, innovation and growth.” 

For more on the ceremony read the press release