March 9, 2017


A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in November 2006 by both space agencies Presidents (CNES/CNSA) during an official visit of the French President to China. A new MoU setting out a revised sharing of responsibilities was signed in August 2014 during the visit of CNES' President to Beijing. This document serves as the baseline for CNES' involvement in SVOM, a joint project of China National Space Administration (CNSA), the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and CNES. The respective responsibilities are as follow:

  • The mission, launch, satellite and operations are under Chinese responsibility, while the instruments and ground segments are shared between China and France.
  • The system, satellite and payload definition studies are based on technical cooperation between CNES and SECM (Shanghai Engineering Center for Microsatellites) teams, each entity acting for the elements under its own responsibility.
  • More precisely, CNES is prime contractor for the French payload development (ECLAIRs, MXT), for the alert system (VHF ground network) and for the French elements of the ground segment (payload monitoring centre, scientific expertise centres).

The main Chinese contributors are:

  • China National Space Administration (CNSA), mission lead
  • Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), project technical lead as proxy for CNSA, through the following institutions:
    • Shanghai Engineering Centre for Microsatellites (SECM), satellite and payload module lead and the main technical interface for CNES
    • laboratories involved in instrument development:
      • National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC), mission science lead with responsibility for development of the GFT (Ground Follow-up Telescope) and GWAC (Ground Wide Angle Camera) ground instrument
      • Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) for the GRM (Gamma Ray Monitor) instrument
      • and Xi'an Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics (XIOPM) for the VT (Visible Telescope) instrument.

The main French scientific laboratories are:

  • CEA/IRFU (Institut de Recherche sur les lois Fondamentales de l'Univers) through its contribution to the development of ECLAIRs and MXT instruments and as the prime contractor for the development of the scientific expertise centre dedicated to alert management, and generation, distribution and archiving of the science products, and monitoring of the MXT instrument.
  • IRAP (Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie) for its contribution to development of DPIX (ECLAIRs instrument detection plane), and as prime contractor for the development of the infrared camera (CAGIRE) and for its participation in developing the ECLAIRs expertise centre.
  • LAM (Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille) for its participation in the development of the MXT instrument and in follow-up programme of observations with ground telescopes, the development of analysis tools and the generation of science products.
  • APC (laboratoire AstroParticules et Cosmologie) for its participation in developing the ECLAIRs instrument.
  • IAP (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris) for its participation in developing the scientific expertise centres and more particularly to the generation of science products.

CPPM (Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille), Strasbourg Observatory, LUPM (Laboratoire Univers et Particules de Montpellier), GEPI(laboratoire Galaxies, Etoiles, Physique et Instrumentation) and LAL (Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire) also contribute to the mission preparation.

These laboratories' representatives also sit on the SVOM scientific committee responsible for implementing the mission's scientific programme in conjunction with their Chinese counterparts.

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