Patrick Michel

Patrick Michel

Patrick Michel 480 270 Asteroid Day

Dr. Patrick Michel, Ph.D.

Senior Researcher at CNRS, Leader of the Planetary Science Team, Lagrange Laboratory, Côte d’Azur Observatory (France)

Web site:

I am a planetary scientist born in Saint-Tropez (France).

My researches are devoted to:

– The understanding of collisional processes between small bodies of our Solar System (asteroids, comets).

– The physical properties and dynamical evolution of asteroids in our Solar System. In particular, I contribute to the study of the specific population of the Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs), their origin, their evolution, their impact probability with the Earth, the method to study them from the ground (modeling, observations) and from space, and mitigation strategies against an impact with the Earth. Regarding the latter, I’m leading the european science team of the deflection mission concept AIDA under study at ESA and NASA and the work package on numerical simulations of momentum transfer efficiency of a kinetic impactor in the consortiumNEOShield-2 funded by the European Commission. I’m also co-I of the space missions OSIRIS-REx (NASA) and Hayabusa 2 (JAXA).

– The formation of planets and in particular the role of collisions in our Solar System history.

I began my advanced education with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Space Techniques in 1993 whereafter I moved to the study of asteroids. I received my PhD in 1997 at the Côte d’Azur Observatory in Nice for a thesis titled “Dynamical evolution of Near-Earth Asteroids”. I then spent two years at the Torino Observatory (Italy) with a European Space Agency (ESA) external fellowship. I am now a Senior Researcher at CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) where I lead the Lagrange Laboratory planetary science team at the Côte d’Azur Observatory (Nice, France).

I am a specialist of the physical properties and the collisional and dynamical evolution of asteroids. I am author or co-author of more than 90 publications in international peer-review journals, including the cover of both Nature and Science, and of more than 50 invited lectures.

I received the following awards:

  • Prize “Young Researcher” 2006 from the French Society of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
  • Carl Sagan Medal 2012 by the Division of Planetary Science of the American Astronomical Society for Excellence in Public Communication in Planetary Science.
  • Prize Paolo Farinella 2013 at the European Planetary Science Congress in recognition of my work on the collisional process.
  • Asteroid (7561) Patrickmichel, named by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), was announced at the congress Asteroids, Comets, Meteors 1999 in Ithaca (USA).

Here are some of my activities/responsibilities:

– I am leading the TOP Team (Theories & Observations in Planetology) of the Lagrange Laboratory of the Côte d’Azur Observatory.

– I lead the European Science Team of the AIDA project under study with NASA and ESA aimed at deflecting the secondary of the binary asteroid Didymos using a kinetic impactor.

– I am Science Team Co-Investigator (Co-I) of the sample return space mission OSIRIS-REx in the NASA New Frontier program, to be launched in September 2016 to the primitive asteroid Bennu.

– I am Science Team Co-I of the sample return space mission Hayabusa 2 (JAXA, Japan), launched on December 3, 2014, to the primitive asteroid 1999JU3.

– I am Member of the Space Program Committee (SPC) of CNES (2014-2019).

– I am Editor of the book ASTEROIDS IV published in the Space Science Series of the University of Arizona Press in December 2015.

– I was Co-lead Proposer and co-chair of the Science Team of the space mission Marco Polo-R (sample return from a primitive asteroid) selected by ESA in the program Cosmic Vision 2 for the assessement study phase (2011-2013).

– I am a member of the steering committee of the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) and a representative of IAWN in the Space Mission Advisory Group (SMPAG), created in response to a United Nations recommendation (at the 50th Session of the UN COPUOS Scientific and Technical Subcommittee).

– I am a member of the consortium NEOShield-2 funded by the European Commission (program Horizon 2020) to study mitigation strategies against a potentially threatening asteroids (responsible of the work package « numerical simulations of deflection by a kinetic impactor »).

– I was a member of the NEOMAP Comittee (Near-Earth Object Mission Observatory Panel) of the European Space Agency created to recommend and help designing space missions devoted to the risk assessment of asteroid impacts onto the Earth.

– I belong to the organization committee of various international congresses, such as the 8th, 7th and 6th Catastrophic Disruption Workshops in Hawaii (USA), Alicante (Spain) and Cannes (France), in 2013, 2007, and 2003, which involved about fifty international specialists of collisional processes among small bodies, the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2011, 2012, 2013, the Planetary Defense Conference 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, etc.

– I serve as a referee in various international journals: Nature, Science, Icarus, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Planetary and Space Science, etc.