How I am bringing the final frontier down to earth

Jane Hanks talks to Jean Baptiste Desbois, who has set himself a mission to make outer space easily accessible to everyone who visits the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse

Space holds a deep fascination for many people – even though it is likely to remain a frontier too far for most of us.
But, it is not as far away as you may think – and one man has made it his mission to bring the cosmos close to home.
The director general of the Cité de l’Espace in Toulouse, Jean Baptiste Desbois, says he wants to make the mysteries of space accessible to everyone. He said he loves to see the eyes of the public shine when they discover how amazing space really is.

“My aim is to share this human adventure,” he says. “Mankind has always wanted to explore new boundaries. First we climbed mountains and crossed oceans. Now we are exploring space.
“You don’t need to be an engineer or a scientist to come here. You don’t need to understand the works of Einstein or Stephen Hawking – but come with a sense of curiosity and there is a great deal to discover.
“Parents often come for their children but find it just as interesting as they do.”

Mr Desbois says the centre aims to be an interface between a subject that can be extremely complex and the general public by explaining complicated ideas in simple words and actions:
“You can see images of the sun on the internet but when visitors look at the eruptions on its surface as they are happening through our telescope for real we hear them go: ‘Wow, that’s incredible’.
“Many of our activities are interactive. You can understand and feel why astronauts bound around on the moon like mountain goats after having a go on the Moon Runner where you experience what it is like to walk when you are six times lighter.”

On September 30 (just after this Connexion edition goes on sale), visitors can witness live the end of the ambitious 12-year Rosetta Mission when the spacecraft is set to make a controlled descent to the surface of 67 ...

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