The Austral Islands, lookouts for the atmosphere and space

DECRYPTION – These islands in the southern Indian Ocean are strategic scientific observatories.

Special envoy to Kerguelen

Being among the few land masses south of the Indian Ocean, in a place where the ocean fronts collide, the southern islands (the archipelagos of Crozet and Kerguelen, and the two islands of Saint-Paul and Amsterdam) are an observatory and a strategic location for space programs since… 1874 – when the transit of Venus was observed by English astronomers from Port-Twelfth, on the Kerguelen archipelago. In the 1960s and 1970s, too, Dragon rockets were launched there to study the magnetosphere due to Kerguelen’s position in relation to the lines of force of the magnetic field passing from one pole to the other.

In 1975, the island even integrated the Araks program (Artificial Aurora Between Kerguelen and Sogra), born in the middle of the Cold War from a collaboration between the USSR and France to study the conditions of propagation of electrons on these famous lines of the field magnetic. Today, the island discovered 250 years ago is home to…

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