Deze website in het Nederlands bekijkenSite en français Zoeken
News & press releases Follow us onVolge ons op Facebook en Twitter Volg ons op Facebook Volg ons op Facebook Volg ons op Twitter

SOLAR-ISS: A new reference spectrum based on SOLAR/SOLSPEC observations

19 December 2017 - The precise measurement of the solar spectrum outside the atmosphere and its variability are fundamental inputs for:

  • solar physics (Sun modeling)
  • terrestrial atmospheric photochemistry
  • the Earth's climate (climate's modeling)

The role of solar variability on climate change remains a topic of strong scientific and societal interest. An international scientific team, with an important role for the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), has accurately determined a new solar reference spectrum from measurements made by the SOLAR/SOLSPEC instrument on board the International Space Station.


The study behind this story was published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics in November 2017.

Complete article:
SOLAR-ISS: A new reference spectrum based on SOLAR/SOLSPEC observations


Examining our Eyes in the Sky

8 December 2017 - A recent paper in Reviews of Geophysics explored the challenges of validating data collected from Earth observation satellites.

NO2 global map

The wealth of information about our planet generated by satellites circulating the Earth is remarkable, informative and powerful, but not without its challenges.

An article recently published in Reviews in Geophysics, highlighted the inherent uncertainties of satellite data and discussed different methods for validation. The editor asked the authors to explain what validation means, why it is necessary, why it is so complicated, and what could be improved.

Complete article: Examining our Eyes in the Sky on EOS Earth & Space Science News


Sentinel-5p first light: first TROPOMI results.

4 December 2017 - Launched on 13 October, the Sentinel-5P satellite has delivered its first images of air pollution. Even though the satellite is still being prepared for service, these first results have been hailed as exceptional and show how this latest Copernicus satellite is set to take the task of monitoring air quality into a new era.

SO2 Mount Agung

The Sentinel-5P imaged sulphur dioxide from the Mount Agung volcanic eruption on Bali, Indonesia, on 27 November 2017. During an ESA press event, organised at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), a range of images and animations were shown, demonstrating the unprecedented spatial resolution delivered by the TROPOMI sensor.

Complete article: Sentinel-5p first light: first TROPOMI results


New European satellite Sentinel-5p to be launched

11 October 2017 - On October 13, 2017, the European satellite Sentinel-5 Precursor (Sentinel-5p) will be launched from the Russian Cosmodrome of Plesetsk on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA).

After the successful launch of several Sentinel satellites for the monitoring of lands and oceans, Sentinel-5p has been developed by ESA and the Dutch Space Agency (NSO) as the first atmospheric monitoring satellite of the EU Copernicus Earth Observation programme.

The latter aims at the operational provision of advanced information services on our environment and security to public authorities, policy makers and the citizen. As part of this programme, Sentinel-5p having on-board the TROPOMI instrument will be the precursor of the future Sentinel-5 mission to be launched in 2022.

Press release New European satellite Sentinel-5p to be launched


Volcanic observations in Congo

In June 2017, the UV-Vis DOAS group participated in a 12 day scientific measurement campaign in and around the main crater of the Nyiragongo volcano (in the Democratic Republic of Congo) as part of a BBC documentary expedition.

UV-camera (left) and the DOAS instrument overlooking the Nyiragongo crater

The aim of the campaign was to collect scientific data with different types of instruments (seismic, infrasound detectors, temperature data loggers, weather stations, and several types of cameras) in order to better understand the physical mechanisms that drive volcanic processes in the region.

Complete article Volcanic observations in Congo



New measurements over the Amazonian rainforest reveal link between the surface elevation and the emissions from plants

23 May 2017 - Researchers investigated the role of gases emitted by plants on atmosphere and climate in the Amazonian rainforest, the world’s most important ecosystem. Among these gases, isoprene plays a key role in atmospheric chemistry.

For the first time, the fluxes of isoprene were directly measured from aircraft in central Amazonia. The researchers discovered a surprising link between the fluxes and surface elevation in the forest. A team from the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) compared the observations with atmospheric models, which are constrained by satellite observations, and found similar results. Isoprene flux

Press release: New measurements over the Amazonian rainforest reveal link between the surface elevation and the emissions from plants



Baseline observation geometries ALTIUS satellite

4 May 2017 - ALTIUS (Atmospheric Limb Tracker for Investigation of the Upcoming Stratosphere) is a satellite mission proposed by the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, aiming at the remote sensing of key atmospheric constituents at high vertical resolution.

ALTIUS will be part of the Proba family. This platform has demonstrated excellent attitude control and agility with previous missions such as PROBA-1, PROBA-2, and PROBA-Vegetation.

ALTIUS will heavily rely on these capabilities to operate its baseline measurement scenario: from a sun-synchronous orbit, the three channels will

  • observe the bright limb
  • follow a sunset
  • go through a number of stellar/lunar/planetary occultations
  • find daylight back with a sunrise



First Belgian space mission for atmosphere studies: ALTIUS

25 April 2017 - In the context of a looming dramatic drop of limb sounders, there is a crying need for new missions capable of probing the atmospheric composition with good vertical resolution. This is particularly important for the continuation of the long-term time series of:

  • ozone
  • aerosols
  • greenhouse gases

They help monitoring the impacts of political decisions to protect our environment. This is also crucial for the modeling community pushing for a better inclusion of the stratospheric composition both for improving short-term (weather) and long-term (climate) numerical predictions.

Altius artist impression

As an element of answer, ALTIUS (Atmospheric Limb Tracker for Investigation of the Upcoming Stratosphere) aims at building on the great success of previous limb-scatter and occultation instruments to provide globally distributed key atmospheric species concentration profiles.

The ALTIUS mission concept has been studied since 2006 by the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), together with OIP Sensor Systems and Qinetiq Space Belgium. ALTIUS is an element of the ESA's Earth Watch program.



Setting Sun on Space Station Solar Research

15 February 2017 - The ground control in Belgium switched off a package that had been continuously watching the Sun from the International Space Station for nine years.

‘Solar’ has been measuring most of the radiation emitted by our closest star across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Schiaparelli ExoMars Mars





Link naar de website van het Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid
Link naar de Federale Portaalsite