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Space weather forecasts for Gaia launch

Gaia19 December 2013 - Gaia is a ESA science mission designed to make the largest, most precise three-dimensional map of our Galaxy by surveying an unprecedented one per cent of its population of 100 billion stars. 

The Gaia spacecraft will be launched by Arianespace from Kourou (French Guiana) using a Soyuz-STB/Fregat-MT vehicle. 

The SSA Space weather Coordination Centre is giving support during the launch.

Complete article Space weather forecasts for Gaia launch


Tenth edition of the “European Space Weather Week” (ESWW)

More than 350 scientists, satellite and network operators worldwide gather in Antwerp next week to discuss the theme Space Weather during the tenth edition of the “European Space Weather Week” (ESWW).

During this international congress, they will address the question how vulnerable and at the same time how resilient the society is during severe space weather.


Research into the causes of solar storms, the strategic organization of the data charts of the Sun, space, the Earth and its environment, as well as the continuous space weather monitoring should help us to find an appropriate answer on the threat and impact of space weather.

Details on the ESWW congress website


Cluster shows plasmasphere interacting with Van Allen belts

18 September 2013 - The invisible bubble created by Earth’s magnetic field, the magnetosphere, has been studied by space missions for more than half a century.

One of the first scientific discoveries in space was the existence of two radiation belts in 1958. Another region of the inner magnetosphere, the plasmasphere, has been discovered in the late 50’s. A new contribution on the links between those two regions has been made by a team of physicists, led by Fabien Darrouzet.

Complete article: "Plasmasphere interacting with Van Allen belts"


EPT first results!

11 September 2013 - The Energetic Particle Telescope (EPT) is a compact and modular ionizing particle spectrometer that for the detection of particle fluxes in the space environment. EPT is integrated on the Belgian PROBA-V-satellite, that was launched on 7 May 2013. The design of this instrument results from a fruitful collaboration between BIRA-IASB and UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain-La-Neuve) and QinetiQ Space. Data management is assured by the B.USOC.

AnomalieThe instrument now provides the first measurements of radiation in a space environment around the Earth at low altitude. The first maps of proton and electrons fluxes clearly show the South Atlantic anomaly. Further analysis of the observations are in progress.

"With the new measurements of EPT the models of space radiation will improve," says Viviane Pierrard, scientific responsible of the instrument at BIRA-IASB. This instrument was realized thanks to the BIRA-IASB engineering team, especially Jeroen Maes, Sabrina Bonnewijn, Emiel Van Ransbeeck and Eddy Neefs.


Proof of steady wind escaping from plasmaphere

10 July 2013 - A proof of the existence of the plasmaspheric wind, that was first proposed theoretically over 20 years ago by BIRA-IASB scientist Joseph Lemaire and scientist Robert Schunk of the Utah State University, has been discovered by ESA's Cluster mission.

MagnetosphereThis steady wind that is slowly escaping from Earth’s plasmasphere has been confirmed by researcher Iannis Dandouras, from the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie in Toulouse (France).

 “This discovery confirms that Earth's ionosphere and plasmasphere feed the outer region of the magnetosphere on a regular basis, and not only during active periods.”: says Iannis Dandouras.

This discovery is essential for understanding the dynamics of the magnetosphere, and also for understanding the underlying physical mechanisms of some space weather phenomena modeled by the Space Physics team of BIRA-IASB for several years. This allows to study Earth's atmospheric loss in great detail and to compare it with similar phenomena that occur on other planets in the Solar System.

Read more:


Solar instrument five years in space

4 April 2013 - The space instrument SOLAR / SOLSPEC celebrates its 5th anniversary since its launch. This Franco-Belgian unit measures the amount of solar radiation (solar flux) from space.

SOLAR-SOLSPECSOLSPEC is an updated version of an older instrument that already participated 5 times in space missions over the past 30 years. This new version is designed for long-term space missions.

SOLSPEC is integrated in the SOLAR platform that is mounted on the exterior of the European Columbus module of the International Space Station (ISS). The instrument performs solar measurements regularly, giving scientists a long series of measurements for research on climate and solar physics. The mission will last until 2017.


ESA’s new Space Weather Centre Opens in Brussels

3 April 2013 - This morning the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Solar-Terrestrial Centre of Excellence (STCE) formally inaugurated the Space Weather Service Coordination Centre (SSCC).

SPENVISIt is the first such centre to be opened under the Agency’s Space Situational Awareness programme. The new Space Weather Coordination Centre will serve as the central access point to a portfolio of European space weather expertise.

Located at the ‘Space Pole’ in Brussels, the Space Weather Coordination Centre (SSCC) includes the first European space weather helpdesk and, through this, rapid access to expert support on:

  • solar weather
  • ionospheric weather
  • geomagnetic environment
  • orbital radiation environment

This is made possible by networking and building on key European assets and expertise.


EPT on the Proba-V satellite

SPENVIS26 March 2013 - The Energetic Particle Telescope (EPT) is a compact and modular ionizing particle spectrometer that was designed using a new concept and the most advanced signal processing technologies.

The instrument:

  • will be measuring particle fluxes in the space environment
  • is integrated on the Belgian PROBA-V-satellite
    (launch : April 2013)

The design of this instrument results from a fruitful collaboration between BIRA-IASB and UCL (Université Catholique de Louvain-La-Neuve).

More on



10000 users

SPENVIS27 February 2013 - 10000 registered users for our operational space weather tool SPENVIS!

Consisting of a web interface, it is used by engineers in defining space missions and designing space instruments. SPENVIS allows an initial analysis of problems associated with the space environment and its effects.



Live UV index Antarctica

Antarctica Live UV-index31 January 2013 - In 2007, Belgium started the construction of a new 0-emission research station in Antarctica: Princess Elisabeth Station.

By the end of 2012, the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) has deployed its UV-B and UV-A and pyranometer sensors for the measurement of the global solar irradiation in the UV and visible wavelength ranges.

NewToday the measured data are available on They are important for our research concerning the stratospheric ozone layer that protects the Earth’s biosphere from a large part of the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the Sun.





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