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Perseverance and dedication

Professor Willy Benz, Director of the NCCR PlanetS. (Photo Alessandro Della Bella)

Dear Reader,

In this edition of the Observer, you will read among other about the history of CHEOPS, the tribulations leading to the first light of ESPRESSO, and about the legacy of the Cassini mission. These stories illustrate that great projects are made possible by perseverance and dedication. What appears simple and evident after the fact, hides most of the time an extraordinary amount of work, possibly setbacks, and periods of serious doubts. Valid for science, this also holds true for most human endeavours from sports to art or business! Fortunately, human nature is such that a happy end always transforms retrospectively difficult times into fond memories of intense periods of successful work. To quote Corneille in Le Cid “To conquer without risk is to triumph without glory!”.

To every rule, there are exceptions! As we reveal in this edition of the Observer, despite considerable efforts, we could not completely crack the mystery of all the astronomical references (including to 51 Peg b, the first exoplanet discovered by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz in 1995) on the new Swiss 20 Francs banknote! After considerable research and the work from experts from the Swiss Astronomical Society, we report on a surprising story mixing precise planetary ephemeris, a supernova explosion, and neutrino detectors. As the story unfolds, we learn about the surprising complexity of reasoning behind the design of a banknote. Unfortunately, some of the mystery remains: We have not been able to identify the astronomical mastermind behind this! Some secrets of the Swiss National Bank resist PlanetS investigators’ best efforts!

With the hope that you will enjoy the reading, I would like to extend to you PlanetS’ best wishes for the holiday season and the New Year.

Willy Benz
Director NCCR PlanetS


First light of ESPRESSO
Categories: External Newsletter