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Safran fosters science education through Smithsonian Museum sponsorship


The Group’s space activities are spotlighted in the webcast: “Diamonds in the Sky: Stars and Exoplanets”

October 12, 2020

Underscoring the commitment to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, Safran has once again partnered with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to support its “STEM in 30” educational outreach program.

“STEM in 30” is an Emmy-nominated webcast series designed to engage middle school students. This program combines a wide variety of interactive content – including animations, interviews with experts, and unique locations – to inspire the future generation of innovators. Classrooms can tune in to the 30-minute webcasts that are aired on the first Thursday of each month. Additionally, students have the opportunity to submit questions to guest experts during the follow-up “Mission Debrief” live sessions that are aired the following week.

Safran sponsored the “Diamonds in the Sky: Stars and Exoplanets” episode, which aired earlier this year. In this space-focused episode, viewers learned how new exoplanets are discovered by astronomers who measure the light of nearby stars. Watch the episode.

The “Mission Debrief” featured Rémi Bourgois, the ELT M1 Chief Engineer at Safran Reosc, who discussed the Group’s contribution to the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) – the most powerful telescope ever built. See his participation as a guest expert on the “Mission Debrief.”

Safran Reosc – a subsidiary of Safran Electronics & Defense based in France’s Paris region – manufactures the optics for the ELT, which will be used to study the characterization of exoplanets and stellar archaeology. The ELT is made up of five mirrors, all having different sizes, shapes, and roles. With a diameter of 39 meters (130 feet), the primary mirror (M1) is designed to collect light and transmit it successively to the remaining four mirrors.

Working together with Safran’s manufacturing plant in Poitiers, France, Safran Reosc is responsible for polishing, mounting, and testing the telescope’s mirror segments. Precision and attention to detail are paramount in guaranteeing that the telescope produces accurate image reproductions of distant stars and exoplanets. Upon completion, the telescope’s mirrors will be installed in Chile on the Cerro Armazones Mountain. 

ESO’s powerful telescope will collect about 15 times more light than the largest optical telescopes today – almost 100 million times more light than the human eye – enabling astronomers to see farther into the universe.

The National Air and Space Museum opened in Washington D.C. in 1976 and has the largest aviation and space artifacts collection in the world. Over 60,000 objects make up the museum’s collection, including Saturn V rockets, jetliners, gliders, space helmets and microchips. In 2003, the Museum opened its second location, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. Each year, over eight million visitors tour both sites, making the National Air and Space Museum the most visited museum in the country.

As a leading innovator in aerospace, Safran has made many contributions to flight throughout history. The National Air and Space Museum’s collection features more than 40 artifacts donated by the Group, including the Gnome Omega No.1 (1908), Hispano-Suiza* engines and gun mounts, the CFM 56-2 jet engine, and a Snecma* Viking rocket engine. 

*Hispano-Suiza is now Safran Transmission Systems, and Snecma is now Safran Aircraft Engines.