Deze website in het Nederlands bekijkenSite en français

Planetary Aeronomy

Aeronomy concerns the study of the atmosphere i.e., all atmospheres, terrestrial as well as… “extraterrestrial”, like the atmospheres around comets or other planets from the solar system in which similar phenomena we already know on Earth, may occur.

Extra terrestrial atmospheres can provide us with precious information about our own atmosphere, its history, its future and even about the origins of life on Earth!

Mars Earth Venus
Mars, Earth & Venus (Image credits: NASA/ESA)

Within our solar system only two planets other than the Earth have atmospheres over a rocky core – Mars and Venus. Titan (one of the moons of Saturn) also has an atmosphere. These pages will focus on the study of the atmospheres of Mars and Venus.


Latest news 

Destination Mars, episode 1: Searching for signs of life

26 Jan 2016 - Jorge Vago, one of the Exomars Project Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA), outlined the mission.

TGO is at Baikonour !

23 Dec. 2015 - The 3rd ExoMars flight containing the Trace Gas Orbiter TGO safely arrived in Baikonur this morning.

More on ExoMars Twitter

PSS Special Issue : "Exploration of Venus"

Sep. 2015 - Compiling the latest results from the Venus Express ESA mission, a special issue has been published in Planet. Space Sc. - IASB-BIRA researchers have been very active

Several papers with IASB-BIRA first authors were published in the PSS special issue on the "Exploration of Venus":

and several papers where IASB-BIRA researchers are co-authors:

EuroPlanet - a new Horizon 2020 project !

15 Sep. 2015 - Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure launches new era of planetary collaboration in Europe

A €9.95 million project to integrate and support planetary science activities across Europe has been launched. The Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) is funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme and will run for four years until August 2019. The project is led by the Open University, UK, and has 34 beneficiary institutions from 19 European countries. Europlanet 2020 RI will address key scientific and technological challenges facing modern planetary science by providing open access to state-of-the-art research data, models and facilities across the European Research Area.

Prof Nigel Mason, the Project Coordinator, said, “We are delighted to announce the launch of this new Research Infrastructure. Since its foundation in 2005, Europlanet has played an immensely effective role in bringing together the European planetary science community. In this latest project, we have an ambitious programme of research, access and networking activities. In particular, our focus will be on fostering a closer integration between industry and academia in planetary science, and supporting institutions and partners from countries in early stages of developing planetary research programmes.”

For more information:
Follow on Twitter via @Europlanet2020

Belgian technology ready for Mars

30 March 2015 - In January 2016, the ExoMars trace Gas Orbiter will be launched toward Mars with on board, a new instrument resulting from an international consortium led by Belgium. This instrument will study the Martian atmosphere, looking for traces of life. On Tuesday 24 March 2015 the instrument will be visible in Belgium for the last time before leaving our country to be delivered to the European Space Agency for the final integration on the satellite.

Communiqué de presse: De la technologie de pointe belge prête à partir pour Mars
Persbericht: Belgische toptechnologie klaar voor vertrek naar planeet Mars

Measuring Mars' Ancient Ocean: NOMAD co-Is interviewed !

5 March 2015 - For decades, planetary scientists have suspected that ancient Mars was a much warmer, wetter environment than it is today, but estimates of just how much water Mars has lost since its formation vary widely. Now, new isotopic measurements by researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center reveal that an ocean once covered approximately twenty percent of the Martian surface. This new picture of early Mars is considerably wetter than many previous estimates, raising the odds for the ancient habitability of the Red Planet.

See the NASA movie

See also an article in the Libre Belgique (in French)

And finally with UVIS !

19 Jan 2015 - and the 3d channel UVIS has now also recorded some spectra !

And now with LNO !

16 Jan 2015 - Some more spectra ... with the LNO channel now

First absorption spectra of NOMAD !

16 Jan 2015 - During the final tests before closing NOMAD, some measurements were done with the SO channel. Just a lamp in front of the entrance and here you go ... a fantastic spectrum of the air ! Today still from Earth, soon from Mars.

Venus Workshop at ISRO, Bangalore (India)

2-6 June 2014 - The 2014 BeMind meeting was organized once more at Bangolare at the ISITE site of ISRO. The agenda comprised 3 full days of presentations, mainly from Indian researchers on Venus and the possibility to build a next Venus mission ! The last 2 days of the week were reserved for 'Hands on': one day on ASIMUT and How to use the SOIR data; the second day: same for VMC and VIRTIS data, plus a very interesting First Course on radar telemetry.

New laboratory measurement of CH4 lines

01 March 2014 : In preparation of the next mission to Mars, ExoMars, researchers at BISA performed preliminary tests using new measurements of CH4 lines obtained by the LLS (Laboratoire Lasers et Spectroscopies) of the Namur University.
Using a tunable diode-laser spectrometer, we have measured the CO2-broadening coefficients of 28 absorption lines in the ν4 band of CH4. Each line was recorded at room temperature (296 K) and at 4 different pressures, ranging from 8 to 50 mbar. The experimental determination of the CO2-broadening coefficients was performed by fitting a theoretical profile to the experimental profile of each line recorded at each pressure. Voigt, Rautian–Sobel’man and Galatry models were therefore used. The impact of these determinations on atmospheric investigations on CO2-rich planetary atmospheres are addressed.

Complete article


"Exploring Mars"

Our next public presentation will take place on November 26 at the British school of Brussels organized by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Exploring Mars
Dr. Ann C. Vandaele, Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy
7:45pm on Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Swoosh Lounge, British School of Brussels
Leuvensesteenweg 19, 3080 Tervuren


Web site update

A new page has been added to the Planetary website listing all the projects in which the Planetary Aeronomy Group is involved.

Venus Express on a stamp

New English stamps. To mark the 50th anniversary of Britain's first contribution to space exploration, a set of six commemorative stamps have been emitted. They all feature images from European Space Agency missions. One represents the Venus Express mission.

SOIR spectra have been analyzed and the hot band 2ν1 + ν2ν2 of 16O12C18O has been observed experimentally for the first time.

15 Dec. 2012 – The results obtained by the SOIR team and co-workers have been published in the Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer. We present absorption bands of carbon dioxide isotopologues, detected by the SOIR instrument on-board the Venus Express Satellite.

Thanks to its high spectral resolution (0.12–0.18 cm-1), we have access to information about the rovibrational excitation state of the molecules present in Venus’ atmosphere. The lines of three vibrational bands have been assigned. They belong to the vibrational bands 21101–01101 and 01111–00001 of 16O12C18O, 20001–00001 of 16O13C18O.

The latter two had been already spotted in planetary atmospheric spectra, on Mars and Venus:

They have been reanalyzed in this study, dispelling doubt about their assignment. The spectroscopic constants characterizing them were obtained for the first time, using a band-by-band analysis tool. These results are a first step towards a systematic assignment of absorption lines in the SOIR’s spectra.

Complete article


NOMAD and TGO mentioned in The Hindu Times !

15 Nov. 2012 - The NOMAD instrument on ExoMars TGO has been cited in an article discussing the presence of methane on Mars.

The Hindu Times reports on the non detection of CH4 announced last week by the Curiosity team. Curiosity is not the last chance to look more closely for methane in the near future: ExoMars, and in particular NOMAD, are being prepared to this goal.

The complete article



More news ...  

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