Towards a more resilient aviation system in Europe
14 December 2016 - Aviation is one of the most critical infrastructures of our times. Even comparably short interruptions in commercial aircraft operations can cause economic damages in the billion-dollar range. Natural or manmade airborne hazards such as volcanic ash clouds and nuclear releases may crucially effect the operations of the worldwide aviation system. The Eyjafjallajökull eruptions in Iceland 2010 showed the vulnerability of such a complex system, with thousands of passengers stranded and stakeholders as well as decision makers unprepared to cope with such an event.
Safe flight operations, air traffic management and air traffic control are a shared responsibility of EUROCONTROL, national authorities, airlines and pilots. Despite experiences as in 2010 there is still a gap between available data and information and the stakeholders’ needs for high quality data in order to make consistent decisions.
With the EUNADICS-AV (“European Natural Disaster Coordination and Information System for Aviation”) Project, the Consortium envisions to close this gap.
Complete article Towards a more resilient aviation system in Europe
NOMADs first view of the Martian atmosphere
29 November 2016 – “I am thrilled to see the hard work of the NOMAD team successfully culminating in the first scientific data of the Martian atmosphere! This is the result of a tight international collaboration, lead and mainly financed by Belgium,” says Ann Carine Vandaele, principal investigator of the NOMAD instrument onboard ExoMars 2016 and scientist at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy.
“Our instrument has a detection sensitivity that is improved by several orders of magnitude compared to previous missions. Hence, it is expected that both the main constituents and the trace gases (like methane) in the Martian atmosphere will be much better understood.”
Complete article "NOMADs first view of the Martian atmosphere"
Exceptional SO2 detection due to sulphur mine burning in Iraq
On 24 October 2016, 07:08 UTC, the GOME-2 /MetOp-A instrument implemented in the SACS system detected a very unusual plume of SO2 over Iraq, Syria and Turkey, and automatically notified the subscribed users, about 2 hours after the measurement was performed. This notification was confirmed few hours later by the OMI instrument which observed enhanced local SO2 emission in the area (see left Figure 1).
This exceptional detection of SO2 is due to the burning of the sulphur mine of Al-Mishraq by fighting forces. This voluntary act led to the massive release of sulphur species in the atmosphere which could be detected from space.
Complete article Exceptional SO2 detection due to sulphur mine burning in Iraq
ExoMars 2016 arrives at destination
10 October 2016 - The first mission of the ExoMars programme, launched successfully on the 14th of March this year, is about to arrive at Mars. ExoMars 2016 consists of two components:
The main objectives of this mission are to search for atmospheric trace gases and to test key technologies in preparation for ESA’s contribution to subsequent missions to Mars.
“International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer”
16 september 2016 - In 1994, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 16 September the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing, in 1987, of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Laye.
Global stratospheric ozone amounts stopped decreasing in the late-1990s, and have stabilized at levels about 2-3 % less than those observed in 1980. The latest international assessment of stratospheric ozone (WMO, 2014) has reported a small but statistically significant increase of ozone around 40 km, which has been attributed to both a decrease of ODSs and the cooling of the stratosphere by increased abundance of greenhouse gases.
More recently, several studies have shown signs that total ozone may be starting to recover over Antarctica. Due to the long lifetimes of ODSs in the atmosphere, full stratospheric ozone recovery will take several decades. Stratospheric ozone recovery will also be impacted by climate change.
Substantial Underestimation of Post-Harvest Burning Emissions in the North China Plain Revealed by Multi-Species Space Observations
September 15, 2016 - The large-scale burning of crop residues in the North China Plain (NCP), one of the most densely populated world regions, was recently recognized to cause severe air pollution and harmful health effects. A reliable quantification of the magnitude of these fires is needed to assess regional air quality. The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) and its partners ULB, KNMI (Netherlands) and the Peking University (China) used an eight-year record (2005–2012) of formaldehyde measurements from space to constrain the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in this region.
Using inverse modelling, the scientists derived that satellite-based post-harvest burning fluxes are, on average, at least a factor of 2 higher than state-of-the-art bottom-up statistical estimates, although with significant interannual variability.
Crop burning is calculated to cause important increases in surface ozone (+7%) and fine aerosol concentrations (+18%) in the North China Plain in June. The impact of crop fires is also found in satellite observations of other species, glyoxal, nitrogen dioxide and methanol, and researchers show that those measurements validate the magnitude of the top-down fluxes. The study indicates that the top-down crop burning fluxes of VOCs in June exceed by almost a factor of 2 the combined emissions from other anthropogenic activities in this region, underscoring the need for targeted actions towards changes in agricultural management practices.
Radio Meteor Zoo: help us detect the Perseids!
August 8, 2016 – The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BISA) invites everyone to help scientists monitor the Perseid meteor shower by way of the “Radio Meteor Zoo”.
The website www.radiometeorzoo.be provides all the necessary information about meteors and their detection by the Belgian BRAMS network. Everyone who is interested can participate in the observation and count of the Perseids, a meteor shower originating from the comet Swift-Tuttle, starting from August 12, 2016.
Cartographiae : science and culture at the Royal Palace
As each year, the Royal Palace in Brussels opens its doors to the public in summer: from 22 July to 4 September 2016. The public is able to discover the exposition Cartographiae showing maps and cartography throughout the centuries.
In order to bring the intriguing and little-known world of cartography closer to the public, the 10 federal scientific institutions of Belgium (including the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy) have selected a number of representative items from their collections to show the various aspects of this particular field of science:
In relation to the space research domain the exhibition also has polluting gases mapped by the OMI satellite instrument on display.
Location: Royal Palace in Brussels
Inter-comparison of airborne atmospheric imagers during the AROMAPEX campaign
15 June 2016 - The AROMAPEX campaign was carried out in April 2016 in Berlin. The scientific team involved in the project includes researchers from Germany (FUB, University of Bremen, DLR, MPIC), Belgium (BIRA, VITO), Netherlands (KNMI, TNO, TU Delft) and Romania (INCAS, UGAL).
The primary objective of the AROMAPEX experiment was the inter-comparison of APEX and AirMap; two airborne imagers dedicated to tropospheric NO2, a major air pollutant in urban areas and a key species in tropospheric chemistry. The airborne imagers were operated from two planes: APEX was on board DLR's Do-228-112 D-CFFU and AirMAP on board the FUB Cessna C-207D-EAFU.
AURORA project for ozone monitoring with unprecedented accuracy
18 May 2016 - AURORA (Advanced Ultraviolet Radiation and Ozone Retrieval for Applications) is a space research project funded by the European Community‘s H2020 programme in the field of Earth Observation. The project was launched on 1 February 2016, with a 36-month duration.
AURORA’s overall objective is to use the different tools of the Sentinel-4 and Sentinel-5 missions of the Copernicus programme to monitor the profile of ozone in the atmosphere with unprecedented accuracy.
Documentary film with key questions about Mars
29 January 2016 - To prepare the future ExoMars mission, a consortium of seven European scientific institutions, coordinated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC), will develop new analytical techniques to exploit data of existing missions to Mars.
With its internationally recognised expertise in the observation and modelling of planetary atmospheres- the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) will undoubtedly be a very valuable project partner.
Fabien in Antarctica
16 January 2016 - In order to get a better idea of the state of the plasmasphere, one of the inner regions of the magnetosphere, our colleague Fabien Darrouzet installed a compact VLF antenna at the Princess Elisabeth base in Antarctica (from January 8 – February 10, 2016).
The antenna is part of a worldwide network that gathers data to improve and refine computer models of the plasmasphere.