The Planetary Aeronomy Division of IASB-BIRA is involved in different national and international projects
Space missions and instruments
ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter 2016 and the NOMAD instrument
Started in 2010 - launched in 2016 - arrival at Mars: 2017 - First observations: April 2018
ExoMars is the name for 2 missions to Mars and IASB-BIRA began their contribution in 2010. NOMAD is a 3-channel spectrometer developed by an international team that was selected from many proposals for the Trace Gas Orbiter that has been launched in March 2016. The aim of NOMAD is to better characterize the atmosphere of Mars - measuring vertical profiles of various species at different longitudes, latitudes and seasons; mapping possible sources and sinks of rarer gaseous species - for example methane; examining aerosols and their fluctuations over a Martian year.
JUICE and the MAJIS instrument
Started in 2014 - funded PRODEX 2018-2019 - launched in 2022
JUICE - JUpiter ICy moons Explorer - is the first large-class mission in ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 programme. Planned for launch in 2022 and arrival at Jupiter in 2029, it will spend at least three years making detailed observations of the giant gaseous planet Jupiter and three of its largest moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa.
EnVision and the VenSpec-H instrument
Started in 2018 - funded PRODEX 2018-2021 - launched in 2032
EnVision is a mission proposed to ESA following the M5 call and which has been selected by ESA to enter Phase A . Planned for launch in 2032, EnVision follows on from ESA's highly successful Venus Express that focused primarily on atmospheric research. Planned to be implemented with NASA participation, next-generation EnVision would determine the nature and current state of geological activity on Venus and its relationship with the atmosphere, to better understand the different evolutionary pathways of the two planets.>.
Go to the EnVision webpage ...
Venus Express and the SOIR instrument
Launched in 2005 - Lost in Dec. 2014
Venus Express is ESA's first mission to Earth's nearest planetary neighbour, Venus. The mission was born after ESA asked for proposals, in March 2001, suggesting how to reuse the design of the Mars Express spacecraft. Venus Express was launched in November 2005 and inserted into orbit around Venus in April 2006. The sapcecraft was finally loast in Dec. 2014.
Mars Express and the SPICAM instrument
Launched in 2003 - still active
SPICAM is a space instrument onboard of ESA's mission Mars-Express, which has been orbiting around Mars since 2003.
SPICAM has been observing since then and is still operating now.
The instrument was partly built here at IASB-BIRA, in collaboration with the LATMOS (France) and IKI (Russia). It is a double spectrometer composed of an ultraviolet (UV) and a near-infrared (NIR) channel.
We are developing at IASB-BIRA a retrieval algorithm in order to analyse the nadir UV data of SPICAM. The goal is to deduce the quantities of Ozone, aerosol's loading and surface albedo. We will obtain maps giving the evolution of these quantities over the period of SPICAM activity. We will also attempt to derive some optical properties of dust in the UV range. The developement of this retrieval program is also a preparation for the future missions. We will be ready to analyse data of the IASB-BIRA instrument's NOMAD which will be part of the future Trace Gas Orbiter mission.
Reanalysis of all SPICAM UV nadir observations with the latest retrival code developped by Y. Willame
Reanalysis of all SPICAM UV solar occultations considering the gradients of ozone along the line of sight
Preparation of the SPICAV/SPICAM Team Meeting, Greece, June 25-27 2018 - Preliminary agenda soon available
The development of a Global Circulation Model (GCM) for the atmosphere of Mars started in 2006. The GM3 model developed at York University (Canada) was applied at BISA from 2007-2009. In 2010 BISA started to extend and redevelop the GCM under the name GEM-Mars.
ASIMUT - ALVL
ASIMUT is a modular program for radiative transfer calculations in planetary atmospheres. The ASIMUT software has been developed to exploit the synergy existing between the growing number of different instruments working under different geometries. The main particularities of the software are:
ASIMUT has been coupled to SPHER/TMATRIX and (V)LIDORT codes to include the complete treatment of the scattering effects into the radiative transfer calculations.
A more detailed description of the ASIMUT - ALVL software can be found here.
James Webb Space Telescope - Mars Focus group
The broad spectral coverage provided by JWST will permit the characterization of the formation and evolution of global dust storms and cloud systems over volcanoes, while NIRSpec’s spectral resolution will permit the search for trace photochemical species and isotopic compounds. JWST will permit instantaneous measurements of the whole observable disk at very high-spatial resolutions, allowing for the investigation of transient events near the day/night terminator, diurnal (East-West) and seasonal (North-South) phenomena, and the rapid vaporization of polar ices and of other volatile reservoirs.
iMARS International Working Group
iMARS stands for “international Mars Architecture for the Return of Samples”.
ESA CH4 TIR
2019 - 2020
Spectroscopy and forward model error improvement for CH4 retrieval in the TIR. ESA project to explore and consolidate the possible sources of CH4 biases in retrievals from TIR sensors, to establish necessary actions and perform the related work for mitigating biases.
2018 - 2021
The evolution of planets is driven by the composition, structure, and thermal state of their internal core, mantle, lithosphere, crust,
and by interactions with possible ocean and atmosphere.
Go to the EOS ET-HOME page
EuroPlanet - VESPA: a EPN2020-RI European project
Sept 2015 - Aug 2019
The Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 654208 to integrate and support planetary science activities across Europe. The project was launched on 1st September 2015 and will run until 31 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.
ESC2RAD: a European project
The EESC2RAD project ????
The Planetary Aeronomy group of IASB-BIRA is a partner of the project, in particular we will provide ???.
UPWARDS: a H2020 European project
March 2015 - February 2018
The goals of the UPWARDS project match the topics, challenges and scope of the Compet-8-2014 call (Horizon 2020). The UPWARDS Consortium undertake five grand science themes which challenge our current understanding of the complex couplings of the Mars’ climate:
The Planetary Aeronomy group of IASB-BIRA is a partner of the project.
SCOOP, a BRAIN-be network project
December 2014 - March 2019
The goals of the SCOOP (Towards a SynergistiC study Of the atmOsphere of terrestrial Planets) project match the topics, challenges and scope of the BRAIN-be call 2014 of the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO). SCOOP has as its overarching objective the revision and exploitation of data from the European Mars Express (MEX) and the European Venus Express (VEX) missions as well as other Martian missions such as NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN).
It will use a synergistic approach by combining different fields of research in aeronomy and integrating the different layers of the Mars and Venus atmospheres from the surface to the upper atmosphere. It will address major open science questions regarding the atmospheric system by seeking to comprehend the interactions between its various elements. SCOOP will also 1) prepare for ESA’s ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) data analysis and exploitation by developing tools to be tested on selected data from current missions and on the first returned data of TGO; and 2) deliver enhanced scientific context and datasets for defining and designing future missions to our neighbour terrestrial planets.
Cross Drive: a FP7 European project
2014 - 2016
This FP7 project is focused on the realization of innovative tools and techniques for the visualization and sharing of Mars data to strength collaborative science data analysis and real-time operations. A specific focus is given to the preparation of the Exomars 2016 and 2018 missions.
Objectives of the proposal are:
The participants to this project are the Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft - und Raumfahrt EV (DLR), the University of Salford (USAL), the Advanced Logistics technology Engineering Center (ALTEC), Thales Alenia Space (TAS-I), the Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali (IAPS), the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (IASB-BIRA), the Tohoku University and the Johns Hopkins Unversity (JHUAPL).
EuroVenus: a FP7 European project
2014 - 2016
EuroVenus stands for European Unified Research on Observations of Venus using coordinated Space- and Earth-based Facilities. It is a project funded by the EU within the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, EU's main instrument for funding research in Europe.
Venus is Earth's closest sibling, but it has ended up with a radically different climate. Venus atmospheric science is thus increasingly important in an era in which we are trying to understand the divergent evolutionary outcomes for terrestrial planets, whether we are considering the future of our Earth or the habitability in other solar systems.
The goal of this proposal is to investigate in detail the dynamics and composition of the middle and lower atmosphere of Venus by combining data from Venus Express instruments (VIRTIS, VMC, SOIR) with simultaneous data acquired from several ground-based telescope facilities during the course of ESA's Venus Express mission.
We will perform coordinated observations to provide a detailed analysis of dynamical and chemical couplings between different levels of the atmosphere that are probed simultaneously by different instruments.
The IASB-BIRA contribution to EuroVenus occurs through the SOIR channel of the SPICAV instrument on-board Venus Express. The temperature structure of the upper atmosphere and the light absorption due to aerosols in the mesosphere derived from SOIR data at terminator will help resolving the latitudinal dependency of the aureole observed with a set of coronagraphs during the Venus transit in June 2012.
In addition, this project gives access to a platform of complementary ground-based observations and of data from other Venus Express instruments for cross-validating SOIR vertical profiles of temperature, aerosols and minor constituents.
ISSI International Teams on Venus
In 2013, 3 International Teams have been selected to deal with Venus related issues:
Nov 2013 - First meeting at ISSI in Bern (Zwitserland)
June 2014 - Second meeting at ISSI in Bern (Zwitserland) of all teams together
February 2015 - Last meeting at ISSI in Bern (Zwitserland) of all teams together
InterUniversity Attraction Pole (IUAP) Planet TOPERS
2012 - 2017
PLANET TOPERS stands for Planets, Tracing the Transfer, Origin, Preservation, and Evolution of their ReservoirS.
The group is an Inter-university attraction pole (IAP) financed by the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) and addressing the question of habitability in our Solar System.
Based on the only known example of Earth, the concept of habitability refers to whether environmental conditions are available that could eventually support life, even if life does not currently exist.
Terrestrial life requires liquid water. The stability of liquid water at the surface of a planet defines a habitable zone around a star. In the Solar System, it stretches between Venus and Mars, but excludes these two planets. If the greenhouse effect is taken into account, the habitable zone may have included Mars in the past while the case of Venus is still debated. Important geodynamic processes affect the habitability conditions of a planet. The group works in an interdisciplinary approach to understand habitability. The dynamic processes, e.g. internal dynamo, magnetic field, atmosphere, plate tectonics, mantle convection, volcanism, thermo-tectonic evolution, meteorite impacts, and erosion, all impact on the planetary surface, the presence or not of liquid water, the thermal state, the energy budget and the availability of nutrients.
The Space Physics Division and the Planetary Aeronomy group of IASB-BIRA are involved in the part of the project that deals with the thermal-chemical evolution of planetary atmospheres (net loss, sources and chemical reactions) and its interaction with surface, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and space to determine the evolution of pressure, temperature and composition in time, and the existence or not of liquid water. This includes the greenhouse effect and the regulating role of a magnetosphere on atmospheric losses. The comets and asteroids volatile mass influx from space into the atmosphere are dealt with as well.
BeMind : collaboration with ISRO (India)
2012 - 2015
In 2012, IASB-BIRA was selected for a small amount of funding to start cooperation with India. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to send an instrument that resembles NOMAD to Mars in 2014 and was looking for collaborators with experience in radiative transfer models for Mars. A first meeting took place after the International COSPAR conference in July 2012 in Mysore.
May 2014 - The next meeting organized within the BeMInd project will take place at the Kodaikanal solar observatory in India. The 2d ISPA workshop will be again organized jointly between IASB-BIRA and Indian scientists from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) and IIA (Indian Institute for Astronomy).
June 2014 - Finally, the 2014 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.
2012 - 2015
HiResMIR is the acronym of the Groupement de Recherche International (GDRI) called "High resolution microwave, infrared and Raman molecular spectroscopy for atmospheric, planetological and astrophysical applications".
The aim of this "Groupement" is to promote the exchange of ideas between researchers of eight laboratories belonging to five countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain). Each institute brings its own worldwide-recognized expertise, complementary to the other HiResMIR partners. Broadly, these expertises are of two natures, centered on Molecular Spectroscopy and its application in atmospheric, planetological and astrophysical research.
Some of the HiResMIR members (Aachen, Bruxelles-ULB, Madrid, Namur, and Paris) are experts in the generation of accurate reference spectroscopic information (such as positions, intensities and shapes of spectral lines) for molecules of atmospheric, planetological and astrophysical interest. For that purpose, they combine various experimental high-resolution spectroscopic techniques (microwave, infrared or Raman) with high-level theoretical treatments.
Other HiResMIR partners (Bologna and IASB-BIRA) are concerned with the detailed study of the Earth and planetary atmospheres using optical remote sensing techniques. They are therefore users of reference spectroscopic parameters.
The multidisciplinary activities of the partners of the HiResMIR GDRI are therefore strongly linked. However, interactions between these two kinds of expert groups occur on too rare occasions. Discussions and exchanges of ideas to be promoted by the HiResMIR GDRI is an opportunity to contribute to filling this gap.
An international thematic school has been organized in the framework of this project in Fréjus from 3 to 7 June 2013. HiResMIR@CAES-Frejus-2013 will focus on high-resolution spectroscopy and its application for investigating physical or chemical processes taking place in the atmosphere of the Earth and of other planets as well as in the interstellar media.
An international Summer School has been organized in Fréjus from 7 to 12 June 2015. SpecAtmos2015, which will focus on the “Spectroscopy and Physico-Chemistry of Planetary Atmospheres”. The International Summer School had a clearly defined and unique profile that will provide with interdisciplinary education (lectures, tutorials, conferences) in the following fields: Atmosphere radiative transfer, inversion, thermodynamics, dynamics, remote sensing; Physico-chemistry kinetics, laser techniques, simulation chambers; Spectroscopy intensities, line frequencies, line profile, IR techniques, databases
An international Summer School has been organized in Saint-Pierre d'Oléron from 11 to 14 June 2017, SPECATMOS2017. The school focused on the "Spectroscopy and Atmosphere: Measurements and Models" and was a 1-week program dedicated to outstanding and enthousiastic Master-PhD students and young researchers who want to acquire an interdisciplinary scientific culture from leading scientists..
Started Nov 2012 - 18 month duration
SIROCCO is a 18-months ESA project focusing on "Development and performance assessment of synergetic retrieval algorithms for near-surface concentrations of CH4 and CO from SWIR and IR passive remote sensing measurements for Earth and Mars atmospheres".
The consortium is led by J. Chimot at NOVELTIS. It includes M. De Mazière's team at IASB-BIRA, J. Landgraf's team at SRON, P.-F. Coheur's team at ULB, M. Giuranna's team at IAPS and A.C. Vandaele's team at IASB-BIRA.
The study objectives are summarized here: