A New Era in Astronomy: The James Webb Space Telescope Celebrates Science Through Partnerships

On October 30, 2023, the French-American Cultural Foundation sponsored an event at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the ongoing and successful transatlantic partnership that supports the James Webb Space Telescope. We also hosted a screening of the Netflix documentary, “Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine.”

Our partners for the event included the Embassy of France in the United States, NASA, Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), Arianespace, Euroconsult, Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), RTX, and Northrop Grumman.

The opening remarks for the event were delivered by Aurelie Bonal, Deputy Chief of Mission at the French Embassy. The audience then viewed a Netflix documentary tracking the Webb Space Telescope’s historic journey from inception to launch.

Following the screening, the film’s director Shai Gal participated in a remote interview. This was a particularly timely message with regard to the current Israel-Hamas conflict.

Laurent Pueyo, Astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute then spoke about mysterious dust in exoplanetary systems as explained by the Webb Space Telescope. Pueyo’s remarks were followed by a panel discussion focused on this new era in astronomy. Speakers included:

  • Martin Bergeron – Director, Space Exploration Development at the Canadian Space Agency
  • Dr. Mark Clampin – Astrophysics Division Director at NASA Headquarters
  • Dr. Chris Evans – Head of the ESA Office at the Space Telescope Science Institute
  • Martin Frederick – Corporate Director for Civil Space Programs at Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Wiener Kernisan – President at Arianespace, Inc.
  • Dr. Makenzie Lystrup – Center Director at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The panel was moderated by Natalia Larrea-Brito, Director at Euroconsult US.

Closing remarks for the event were given by Debra Dunn, President of the French-American Cultural Foundation. Debbie noted that a consistent thread throughout the discussion was the “joy” of knowledge, curiosity and collaboration. These are the driving forces behind all our programs – we seek to educate, celebrate and advocate – leaving our audience enlightened and going home with something to think about.

We wish to thank Nicolas Maubert, CNES Representative and Space Counselor at the Embassy of France in the United States, for his role in making this a successful event. We are also grateful for Laurent Bili, Ambassador of France to the United States, for welcoming us to the Embassy and his support of this forum.

Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine is currently available to watch on Netflix.

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