National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
Gesellschaftsstrasse 6 | 3012 Bern | Switzerland
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Professor Willy Benz, Director of the NCCR PlanetS (Photo Alessandro Della Bella)

Dear Reader,

President Kennedy in his famous speech about the US effort to reach the Moon delivered in Houston, Texas on September 12, 1962 said “…We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…”.

Less than seven years later, the Apollo 11 astronauts carried the Bernese Solar Wind Composition experiment to the Moon and brought it back for analysis. Similar experiments were subsequently brought to the Moon by Apollo 12, 14, 15, and 16. The hard things had been done and the skills measured. This pioneering spirit and dedication to challenging measurements represent a unique legacy that still permeates our science today (see for example the articles about Monika Lendl and Sascha Quanz).

In this edition of the Observer, you will also be able to learn more about the experiment itself by listening to Jürg Meister who worked on the experiment as a graduate student. You will also be able to read about the importance of this experiment for Swiss space sciences and how we intend to commemorate this historic moment. If you are in or near Bern, join us for the celebrations.

Historic moments are those for which we remember what we were doing and where we were at the time. As far as I am concerned, I was 14 years old and watching all I could on all possible TV channels. I kept a log of what happened, and had models of everything. As perhaps for many kids my age, this historic moment made space science the “stuff” I really wanted to do later…

Best summer wishes,


Prof. Willy Benz
Director, NCCR PlanetS


Categories: External Newsletter, Uncategorized

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