The 2013 Jean Dominique Cassini Medal & Honorary Membership is awarded to Roger-Maurice Bonnet in recognition of his visionary and inspirational leadership at the heart of the establishment of space science in Europe.
Roger-Maurice Bonnet started as an ultra-violet solar observer, using balloons, rockets and satellites. He was a successful scientist early on in his career, having obtained the most detailed images of the solar chromosphere at that time using the Lyman alpha line of hydrogen and provided important information on the heating of the solar corona. From 1969 to 1983 he was Director of Laboratoire de Physique Stellaire et Planétaire of CNRS near Paris.
In 1983 he was selected to be Director of Scientific Programmes at the European Space Agency. For 18 years, he was extremely effective in this position and could certainly be called the chief architect of European space science. He introduced the first long-term planning scheme of ESA, called Horizon 2000, a programme that was fully carried out and proved an outstanding success. After the 1996 crash of four satellites of the Cluster mission in 1996 on-board the first Ariane 5 rocket, he was the central figure in obtaining the funding, rebuilding and launching four new satellites in 2000, which are still in operation.
Bonnet is an outstanding scientific personality who has received numerous major awards. Since 2001 he has played a major role in Space Research as President of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and Executive Director of the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern. From 2001 to 2006, he was the Director General of ESA, had a leading role in the Aurora programme of planetary exploration and, in 2002-2003, he was the Director General for Science at CNES. As president of COSPAR he was very active and he has strengthened the impact of this organisation on international space policy. As ISSI Executive Director, he has contributed to make this institute very well known, through the organisation of forums, symposia, and study groups on astronomy and Earth science.
Video of the Jean Dominique Cassini Medal Lecture given at the EGU General Assembly 2013.