|Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique, Saclay|
The Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (CEA) is situated in Saclay, very close to Paris, France. CEA is the central French nuclear physics laboratory. Activities in astrophysics at the centre began in the 1960s. At that time, the CEA wanted to develop nuclear instruments (both civil and military) and had already acquired wide experience in instrumentation for detecting X-rays and γ-radiation. At the same time, space studies were starting to develop with the foundation of the French space agency CNES in 1961. Since X- and γ-rays from space are absorbed by the atmosphere, it was natural to combine the expertise of the CEA and CNES to develop high-energy astrophysics. Thus, CEA's Service d'Astrophysique (SAp) became one of the first French space laboratories dedicated to astronomy. Subsequently, in partnership with CNES, it participated in most of the major astronomy projects investigating cosmic radiation (HEAO, Ulysse), γ-rays (COS-B, Sigma, Integral, Fermi), and X-rays (XMM-Newton).
This research is conducted using multi-wavelength observations, inparticular using instruments in which the laboratory has participated, computer simulations, and theoretical studies. The service currently finds itself in an exceptional position, with five experiments in space, SoHO, Cassini, XMM-Newton, INTEGRAL, and Fermi (recently launched in June 2008), as well as three ground-based experiments, Megacam, HESS and VISIR. In the future, two missions in the high energy domain are in preparation: SIMBOL-X and Svom.