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The physicist Auguste Piccard (1884 -1962) - who inspired Hergé to create the character of Professor Tournesol - his son Jacques (1922- 2008) and his grandson Bertrand (born in 1958) together form a unique dynasty.
For more than a century, this astonishing Swiss family has worked to push back the limits of what is known and what is possible, in a subtle combination of scientific rigour, a taste for innovation and a thirst for exploration.
An ambition that requires the commitment of the body as much as the mind, and has made the Piccard characters worthy of Jules Verne.
Auguste and his stratospheric balloon flights, Jacques and his abyssal dives, Bertrand who launched the challenge of the first round-the-world flight in a solar plane with Solar Impulse.
Psychiatrist & Adventurer
He has all the audacity, even the most insane.
"He is a man with a bite who goes to the end of his dreams".
This is how Jacques Rougerie, the architect of concrete utopias, defines him.
A self-taught eco-adventurer and lecturer in his spare time, Raphaël Domjan is committed to protecting our planet, its biodiversity, its atmosphere and its environment through his SolarPlanet foundation.
Initiator and expedition leader of the "PlanetSolar" adventure, he completed the first solar-powered round-the-world voyage on a catamaran.
Raphaël is also involved in humanitarian projects.
He wants to promote the use of renewable energies in developing countries to enable them to become energy independent while developing new technologies.
He is the creator and pilot of SolarStratos, a new adventure on the edge of space.
"When I was a child, I dreamed I was flying in space..."
And yet, as a member of the active corps of European astronauts, Jean-François Clervoy is not an extraterrestrial.
He is a French aerospace test flight engineer, happy and warm, and he is on the verge of the stars during his space flights.
He flew three missions aboard the US space shuttle:
• in 1994 to study the atmosphere,
• in 1997 to refuel the Russian MIR station,
• in 1999 to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
President of Novespace, he organises parabolic flights for research in weightlessness and for the public. As an ESA astronaut he is involved in the development of the manned spaceflight programme. He is a member of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) and an ambassador of the World Ocean Network.
After completing an internship in surgery and specialising in nutrition and sports biology, Jean-Louis Etienne became an expedition doctor: he was Eric Tabarly's crew member for the 1977-78 round-the-world race and went on expeditions to the Himalayas, Patagonia and Greenland.
In 1986 he was the first man to reach the North Pole solo after a 63-day walk. In 1989-90, he was co-leader with the American Will Steger of the international Trans Antarctica expedition, the longest crossing of the Antarctic by dog sled (7 months, 6300 km).
He then turned to the exploration of the polar regions on board the ship Antarctica (renamed Tara), the Arctic drift on board the Polar Observer, and the crossing of the North Pole by balloon. A tireless defender of the planet, his scientific and educational expeditions aim to raise awareness of the polar regions and explain the essential role they play in the earth's balance and climate.
Airline pilot, captain, engineer, journalist, Gérard Feldzer's life is a novel.
He has espoused several successive and complementary passions.
In 1993, together with Nicolas Hulot, he set the world record for distance in a pedal-powered airship over the Atlantic, an adventure that ended in the sea.
If he is also the television oracle who appears on our screens after every air disaster to offer us an unexpected insight, he is also an eclectic man with encyclopaedic knowledge of transport and aviation.
On 23 November 1999, Laurence de la Ferrière left the South Pole. Her only equipment for progress was a pair of skis and sails, and her only links to civilisation were a satellite telephone and an Argos beacon. Harnessed to her loins, a 140-kilogram sled containing enough to ensure her subsistence in total autonomy.
In front of her, the endless white expanse of a land where no animal or plant life is possible, and nearly 3000 km to cover (of which 1664 km are entirely unexplored) in temperatures that can drop to -50°C...
No one before her had even dared to imagine such a crossing. On 6 February 2000, she reached the Dumont d'Urville base on the edge of the ocean.
For 73 days she experienced cold, wind, unpredictable waves of ice, fear, thirst, exhaustion, extreme solitude... but also the magic of a landscape that no human eye had ever seen before, the will to survive, the desire to push back her limits and to progress at all costs.
Laurence de La Ferrière
Alpinist & Explorer
Catherine Maunoury has distinguished herself in the art of aerobatics.
She accumulates titles at the French, European and World championships and is always among the best female pilots in the world.
Aerobatics is not fancy "acrobatics", but a school of excellence where pleasure, training and patience are combined because the pilot is constantly looking for the best technical performance and aesthetic expression. It is also a codified high level sport. In competition, the figures are listed and presented in programmes, known, free, unknown, as in skating or gymnastics. Creativity is expressed in public presentation and in air shows. However, even there, improvisation is totally excluded because the level of safety required is extreme. It therefore requires a combination of :
• Ability to think and act quickly
• Ability to anticipate
• Ability to manage extreme situations
• Physical stamina
A French astrophysicist, he has been in charge of the solar system exploration programme at the Centre national d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) since 1989 and has been coordinating the implementation of the Mars exploration programme in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA since 1998.
Francis Rocard also supervises the Rosetta programme, which landed the Philae probe on the nucleus of the comet Tchouri.
"I am fortunate to work in the field of space and more particularly in planetary exploration missions. This discipline is fascinating because of the discoveries it makes and the images of a new world that we get from these distant probes. We need to show these images and share these discoveries so that they can be enjoyed by everyone.
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